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Venezuela, Biden, and Oil Dictators

Venezuelan oil refinery
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By: The Editorial Board – wsj.com – October 6, 2022

The madness of the Biden Administration’s energy policy has been horrifying to watch, like a car crash except all Americans are passengers. The latest bizarre twist is that the White House may ease sanctions on Venezuela and its dictator Nicolás Maduro in an effort to increase the supply of oil on the global market.

“There are no plans to change our sanctions policy without constructive steps from the Maduro regime,” Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the Journal. But the regime has never been willing to concede anything to the opposition. The likeliest result would be that Mr. Maduro opens talks, the U.S. eases sanctions (after the November election), and the talks go nowhere.

The Venezuela gambit is part of the Biden Administration’s rolling dictator tour to encourage more oil supply anywhere except in America. President Biden tried courting the Saudis, but this week they and OPEC+ chose to reduce production by two million barrels of oil a day. The Iran nuclear talks are supposed to liberate Tehran’s oil production, but the mullahs won’t take yes for an answer and are holding out for more U.S. concessions.

That leaves Venezuela, whose production and sales have fallen off a cliff thanks to its own socialist mismanagement and the sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration. Lifting sanctions now on the mere hope of political concessions in Caracas would reward the regime for impoverishing its people and creating a refugee crisis in the region. It isn’t clear how much or how fast Venezuelan oil, which is a hard-to-refine kind of heavy oil, could reach the global market. But Mr. Biden is desperate to reduce American gasoline prices.

Meanwhile, the Administration is hinting that it could allow the Justice Department to file an antitrust suit against the OPEC+ cartel for fixing prices. This might be politically satisfying, but the Saudis and its Gulf allies could easily retaliate by cutting production further and hurting U.S. consumers.

In response to this week’s OPEC decision, some politicians are also threatening to withdraw U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Reps. Tom Malinowski (D., N.J.), Sean Casten (D., Ill.) and Susan Wild (D., Pa.) declared that “it is time for the United States to resume acting like the superpower in our relationship with our client states in the Gulf.” If you want to drive the Saudis further into the arms of Russia and the Chinese, keep this up, guys.

All of this international drama, and growing American economic vulnerability, could have been avoided if the Biden Administration hadn’t made a policy of waging war on the domestic U.S. oil-and-gas industry. The White House blames the industry for high gas prices while it does everything it can to make drilling more difficult and financially risky.

As an act of strategic self-sabotage, this is matched only by Germany’s determination over two decades to make itself vulnerable to Russian natural gas.

Amid a war in Europe, a global energy crisis, and a risk of a global recession, a serious U.S. Administration would do everything in its power to encourage more domestic energy production. This Administration would rather make America more dependent on the “constructive steps” of dictators.

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Source: Biden, Venezuela and the Oil Dictators – WSJ

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