So many media outlets are pushing the latest narrative about the Russian invasion of Ukraine being the driver of spiking gas prices. The problem is that it is our own government policy that should be scrutinized before we go all in to blame the current conflict.

The Biden administration has worked aggressively to halt and delay new leases for energy production, which has created uncertainty in the industry at best.

At worst we will see a return to the gas crisis of the 1970s. That crisis was sparked by a 70% price hike and embargo put in place by OPEC to punish nations supporting Israel during the conflict with Syria.

Livia Gerson at smithsonianmag.com writes:

Per the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, the first of the 1970s gas panics began in October 1973, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised the price of crude oil by 70 percent. That move, together with an embargo on the U.S., was part of Arab countries’ response to the start of the Yom Kippur War (a weeks-long conflict that pitted Egypt and Syria against Israel), but it also reflected simmering tensions between OPEC and U.S. oil companies.

Although it may be convenient for the Biden administration to blame Putin, the facts don't support putting 100% of the blame on the Russian dictator. As I have pointed out before, the conflict was entirely avoidable and reports fueling the anger and tension are filled with incomplete or outright misinformation.

Add to this the reality that since January, when Biden rescinded the Keystone Pipeline permit and aggressively stopped leases for drilling in federal lands and water, gas prices have shot up 40%.

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Beyond the limiting of production capabilities, the Biden administration has increased taxes and other regulatory burdens that are, in the words of one industry leader, "shackling the industry."

Dan Naatz, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association, told Newsweek:

Our members believe that the administration's attack on American oil and natural gas, starting with Day 1 has been relentless," Dan Naatz, executive vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, told Newsweek. "They really had the goal of shackling the industry with increased taxes, increased regulations and limiting access on federal lands both onshore and offshore to allow our members to get out and operate.

Aside from the blame game on an avoidable conflict, the very fact that government officials, including the New Jersey governor, seem to have accepted the high prices as something that we should all just accept as reality. This is so dismissive and disconnected from average people. Average working families have to budget the amount of money they can afford to spend on gas in New Jersey with commuters averaging more than a half-hour in the car according to pre-lockdown numbers. What's not included are the truck drivers, rideshare drivers, and food delivery drivers who have to fill up their tanks every day. These are the hard-working people that will struggle the most, while the governor and president play politics with your livelihood.

It's simply unacceptable that political leaders are only focused on assigning blame. Blame does not put food on your table or gas in your tank.

Solutions are what we need to hear from the government, followed by practical action.

Common sense solutions like increasing drilling on U.S. lands. Opening the pipelines and investing in our energy infrastructure. Let's redirect federal subsidies to the solar industry to support small businesses being crushed by the high cost of fuel. Let's gear up for exports for our domestic natural gas production. Let's allow the market to do what it does best, provide necessary goods to the maximum amount of people at an affordable price. It's economics triumphing over politics.

In New Jersey, we need a governor who will scrap the offshore windmills and negotiate an increase in nuclear power and natural gas infrastructure. New Jersey could benefit from a partnership with gas companies and serve as an export point, a plan is already in the works in South Jersey to do just that.

New Jersey already generates most of our electricity from natural gas and nuclear. With another nuclear power plant, we could acheive 100%. We have two refineries that have the capability of producing more than half of the daily imports from Russia just canceled by Biden.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency:

New Jersey has no crude oil reserves or production, but the state has two operating oil refineries.20 Those two refineries have a combined capacity of almost 359,000 barrels per calendar day and produce a wide range of refined petroleum products, including motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, aviation jet fuel, and petrochemical feedstocks.

The bottom line is that if we incentivize our own local production and ease the way for an increase in exports, New Jersey could be a leader in the U.S. for energy production.

Domestic energy independence from foreign oil will stabilize prices and ease the burden on small businesses and working families. Both Trenton and Washingon are failing us. Let's wake up to reality and do better. A lot better.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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