Jan 14, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Trump's latest Russia defense: fuel prices

President Trump is wielding the U.S. oil production boom and low gasoline prices as a shield against criticism over his relationship with Russia as Robert Mueller continues his probe and Democrats ramp up their inquiries.

"'Gas prices drop across the United States because President Trump has deregulated Energy and we are now producing a great deal more oil than ever before.' @foxandfriends But this is bad news for Russia, why would President Trump do such a thing? Thought he worked for Kremlin?"

My thought bubble: Russia doesn't need high oil prices as much as some other petro-states, notably Saudi Arabia. And Trump's tweet this morning is claiming way too much credit for U.S. crude oil output and gasoline prices, which currently average around $2.25 per gallon.

Reality check:

  • U.S. oil production is indeed at record levels of well over 11 million barrels per day. But the increased level is largely thanks to the shale boom that began around a decade ago as producers used advances in fracking and horizontal drilling to unlock new supplies.
  • The oil industry has welcomed Trump's deregulatory efforts, but they're not currently a major driver of total U.S. production.
  • Gasoline prices, meanwhile, largely reflect oil prices set on global markets, though the U.S. output surge is among the factors putting downward pressure on global crude prices — and hence on gasoline prices.

But, but, but: Trump can, however, claim a measure of credit for pushing the Saudis to boost output last year, which put downward pressure on prices.

Go deeper: NYT: FBI probed whether Trump was secretly working for Russia in 2017

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