WASHINGTON — If you’re feeling like you want to cry every time you fill up your car with gas, you’re not alone. An eyewatering $4.81 a gallon is the average in the D.C. region, according to AAA.
There’s been a lot of finger-pointing about who’s to blame. Some people have criticized America’s dependence on foreign oil, saying if President Joe Biden focused on domestic oil production, gas prices would be lower.
Meanwhile, others are claiming U.S. oil production is higher under Biden than any previous president.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm made a similar comment regarding the last three administrations.
“We are now at close to record levels of oil production here in the U.S., averaging now 12 million barrels a day," Secretary Granholm said on June 22. "Under this President, the country is producing more oil on average than it did during the Bush, Obama or Trump administrations.”
A day later President Biden tweeted a bar graph showing how much oil was produced daily under each president.
"I’m doing everything in my power to combat the effects of Putin’s Price Hike with historic oil production," Biden said.
Is oil production higher under Biden than previous administrations?
Yes, technically oil production on average is higher under President Biden than previous administrations on record. But there is a lot of context needed.
WHAT WE FOUND:
First and foremost, our experts say presidents don’t control oil production.
“I have a hard time accepting any presidential comparison, because a lot of the time...a president has no control over oil production in this country,” GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan said.
Mark Finley agreed.
“These are the result of independent investment decisions made by privately held companies in response to the prevailing market environment," Finley said.
We found that domestic production reached its highest point ever in early 2020, while President Donald Trump was in office, with over 13 million barrels of oil produced a day.
But if you compare oil production over the course of a presidency, it’s technically highest under Biden.
According to EIA statistics, on average oil production reached just over 11 million barrels a day during the Trump administration. So far, with 14 months of available data, it's 11.2 million barrels a day during the Biden administration.
So we can verify that technically these claims are true.
"You can't say 'oh, President Trump pushed oil production to 13 million barrels'— no oil companies did that, as oil companies also then shut down production because of COVID," De Haan said as a disclaimer. "President Trump can't take credit for high oil production, he can't take credit for low oil production. Just like Biden can't take credit for low oil production or high low production. Now some of his policies may influence the future of oil production. But that's a long way down the road."
Finley added that it's not a true apples-to-apples comparison yet.
"It's a little bit inaccurate to compare President Biden's tenure so far, which is only, you know, a couple of years with the full four years of his predecessor, and the eight years before that, under President Obama," Finley said.
Also, keep in mind, crude oil is only part of the equation. A lot is happening in the world of refining.
“The biggest change by far is that the cost of refining, you know, the margins that refiners get for processing crude oil into gasoline has risen very sharply,” Finley said.