But refining petroleum and natural gas is a complicated, not to mention expensive, business. And it has gotten more complicated and more expensive under the Biden administration.
As this recent graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows, U.S. refining capacity peaked during the Trump administration and has declined over the past few years—to levels not seen since 2014.
While EIA notes that two new refineries have recently come online, one much larger one shut down. The fact is that refining capacity has declined, which means less gasoline is making it to the marketplace.
There are several reasons behind that decline. The American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers association explains some of the lost refining capacity.
- Factoring present and projected future fuel demand;
- Political and financial pressure to move away from petroleum derived fuels, and in some cases shift to refining biofuels; and
- Costs associated with federal and state regulatory compliance.
Unfortunately, the situation may get worse before it gets better—if it does get better.
EIA says its refining snapshot represents conditions at the beginning of 2022. Since then, two more refineries have announced plans to shut down. “In April 2022, LyondellBasell announced that its 263,800 b/cd [barrels of crude oil per day] refinery in Houston will close by the end of 2023. In May 2022, Phillips 66 announced plans to stop refining petroleum at its 120,200 b/cd Rodeo refinery in California while the facility transitions to refining biofuels,” writes the EIA.
As with oil and natural gas production and the building of new pipelines, refining fossil fuels and getting that energy to our homes and gas tanks is a complicated and expensive process.
Biden can rail about high gasoline prices all he wants. But there are reasons why gasoline costs so much right now, and many of those reasons point to him.