State of the Union: Biden Silent on Record Production

President Joe Biden delivered the 2024 State of the Union address last Thursday night under what is always one of the most intense spotlights of the year. This comes as he prepares for a general election campaign against former President Donald Trump.

I tuned in briefly, but I don’t enjoy political theater. Therefore, after the speech was over, I read through the transcript. My primary interest is to see what the speaker said about energy.

Given that President Biden’s energy policies have come under attack, I felt certain that he would mention that the U.S. is currently producing more oil and gas than any country ever has, which is an incredible achievement. This is primarily due to the shale-enabled oil and gas boom that began nearly 20 years ago.

Just this week, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote on the social media site X:

“Welcome 2Pres Biden’s America where the fed govt chooses energy dependence over energy DOMINANCE AND INDEPENDENCE.”

It’s a common attack against Biden. Donald Trump often says that if he is reelected, we are going to “Drill! Drill! Drill!” — as if we didn’t produce more oil in 2023 than in any year in U.S. history.

Thus, I thought Biden would highlight record U.S. energy production in the State of the Union address. But he barely mentioned energy at all.

The word “oil” was only mentioned in the speech once, and that was in the context of ending tax breaks on “Big Oil.” Biden didn’t mention natural gas at all in the speech, and he only mentioned energy three times, and that was always in the context of “clean energy.”

So, the incredible energy achievements being recorded in the U.S. were completely ignored in the State of the Union address. Why?

Keep in mind that the address is a political speech. One of Biden’s biggest objectives is to energize his base, and one of the things he campaigned on was addressing climate change.

The Biden Administration has targeted the elimination of fossil fuels for energy generation in the U.S. by 2035. He has passed legislation targeted at speeding up the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and at slowing down or halting fossil fuel development.

Record U.S. oil and gas production are inconvenient facts that run contrary to the administration’s stated objectives. Despite the attacks from Republicans, Biden is probably not keen to remind his base that U.S. oil and gas production both continue to grow.

A second factor may be that Biden knows that record production comes despite his policies, and not because of them. Presidents regularly take credit for things that they had little to do with, but in this case, Biden’s policies have been working to thwart continued expansion of oil and gas. As such, it may have been especially disingenuous to take credit for this.

Still, President Biden is in a campaign for reelection. Clean energy has contributed to our record energy production, even if it wasn’t the primary reason. I would have thought, at a minimum Biden would have pointed out the extraordinary achievement of record U.S. energy production. He could have left it up to his critics to point out that it is primarily due to expanding oil and gas production.

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