Americans are not happy. (I know … these days, are they ever ?)
But this is different. Americans are getting a reality lesson that almost all the rest of the world learned a decade ago: the days of cheap gasoline are over.
And they don’t like it!
Even most of those who called for, campaigned for and celebrated when US President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline project from Alberta to the US are hurting … a lot.
Gas prices in the US now approach $4 to as high as $5 (US) a gallon in many states … nothing new by Canadian (or European) standards … but a horror for US consumers.
In the Fort Lauderdale area , where I am now visiting, regular gas is now averaging up $3.59 a US gallon … where $2.73 or less used to be the norm.
People are pissed!!! Regardless of their political affiliation.
Of course, it’s due here to a very old and very basic law of capitalist economics: supply and demand.
Not like, in some countries, where environmentally-driven policies are aimed at deliberately making fossil fuels more expensive … to reduce their use and help fight climate change.
THAT is not the case in the US.
Americans are just paying the price, literally, for a post-Covid return to economic growth and the inevitable increased energy consumption.
NOTHING to do with environmental or climate policies.
Of course, the price escalation is not affecting just motorists/families driving to work or out for a weekend drive. This US Thanksgiving, 93% of those planning to travel will do so by car.
Commercial vehicle drivers … from delivery vans to semi-trailers … are also being hugely impacted as well … and passing it on to customers … wholesale and retail.
And huge numbers of the American people … registered Democrats as well as Republicans … are angry.
“Despite strong job gains in recent months and promising signs of economic growth, only 23% of respondents rated the economy positively, the lowest since the height of pandemic lockdowns in May 2020. More than 70% said recent rising gas and grocery prices have caused hardships for their families,” according to Seattle’s KOMO News.
In Fact, in the latest Fox News poll, only 44% of Americans approved Biden’s overall job performance … down 12% since June; and only 36% supported his handling of the economy … a drop of 15%.
Sunday, the New York Post reported even more troubling polling results:
“While the CBS News/YouGov poll pegs Biden’s job approval rating at 44 percent, which is higher than some other recent surveys, it also shows that he gets negative scores for his handling of inflation (67 percent), immigration (64 percent), the economy (61 percent), foreign policy (58 percent), and race relations (56 percent).
“Biden is in positive territory for his distribution of the coronavirus vaccine — 53 percent.”
Supply and demand: or actually, the the LACK of supply is clearly hurting Biden and the Democrats.
And as the world economy continues to rebound, and demands for fuels continue to grow, the picture for the US will likely even get worse … just as US politics heat up again for the 2022 mid-terms!
And how ironic: by killing Keystone, Biden put the plug into the pipeline that could have pumped, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council environmental organization, 830,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands oil a day to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Total estimated supply of crude oil buried in Alberta: 168 BILLION barrels.
Canadian oil for a thirsty America. In return, of course, for billions of US dollars pumped into Canadian jobs, royalties, taxes.
Now, I get it: from an environmentalists’ point of view, Keystone’s cancellation was good for the planet, good for the climate, good for reduction in fossil fuel consumption.
That’s NOT, however, what most Americans now care about … and the implications of that will very likely come back to haunt Biden and the Democrats.
Higher gas prices will bring even lower voter support.
From a practical and political point of view, Biden and the Democrats may have sealed their political fate in the mid-terms.
I doubt Biden had any idea when he killed Keystone, Americans would so soon be facing $5 a gallon gasoline …with prices heading even higher by next summer as world demand continues to grow.
It’s the stuff that can make and break governments … more important to voters than Covid, crime, gun control, civil rights … or climate change.
Perfect fodder for the Republicans… especially if gas prices remain high.
It could even become part of the next campaign.
So if the Republicans re-capture the House and the Senate in 2022, and threaten the Democrat Presidency, the Keystone pipeline story may not be over.
(Special note: deepest care and concern for all those back home impacted by the flooding, mud slides and terrible damage over the past few weeks. Thinking of you … every day.)