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Why Biden can't bring gas prices down

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The Biden administration needs gas prices to come down fast. But that could require supporting greater oil and gas production over the long term — the opposite of what it wants to do to fight climate change.

Why it matters: The result so far has been mixed messages and rising tensions with the energy industry, whose help the White House needs to bring gas prices down.

The big picture: The Biden administration has asked the oil industry to boost production and refinery output in the near term, while the White House remains committed to shifting away from fossil fuels over the long term to reduce the severity of climate change.

The industry has not been subtle about its asks: More drilling permits on public lands, pipeline approvals, and taking other steps — while refraining from certain regulatory moves, to encourage putting more money into energy infrastructure.

Zoom in: In addition, the industry is skittish about spending money now to pump more oil, given the stress of recent boom-bust cycles. It wasn't that long ago that oil prices plunged during the first coronavirus lockdowns.

The intrigue: The industry is locked in a war of words with the White House, which has been on full display this week. The friction was apparent, for example, in Chevron CEO Mike Wirth's written response to Biden's letter to refiners.

The bottom line: McNally said the industry would be more comfortable with the policies and rhetoric of the Obama-Biden era, when the White House was publicly in favor of an "all of the above" energy strategy.

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