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Opinion
Liam Denning

Biden’s OPEC Plea Is Really Directed at Anxious Drivers

The president worries about the psychological effect of $3-a-gallon gasoline.

Channeling gas-pump angst away from Washington and toward Russia and some Arab monarchies is easy politics.

Channeling gas-pump angst away from Washington and toward Russia and some Arab monarchies is easy politics.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg 

President Joe Biden is calling on OPEC+ to pump more oil and thereby ease gasoline prices. This has kicked off a paroxysm of schadenfreude and indignation. “Wasn’t Biden all about getting us to use less oil?” say, oddly enough, both the advocates and antagonists of fossil fuels. It’s overblown on both sides.

Gasoline prices have averaged more than $3 a gallon since early May. They are now back to where they were in late 2014, just as oil was beginning to crash that year. Yet as a share of expenditures, energy costs — of which road fuel is the biggest and most volatile element — remain close to their lowest in six decades of monthly data. Moreover, with summer winding down and Covid winding up, plus OPEC+ due to raise production anyway, there’s a good chance prices will ease soon, regardless.