Northeast Faces Winter Energy Crisis as Biden Promises 'No More Drilling'

An oil deliveryman in Pennsylvania in 2003 / Getty Images
November 7, 2022

As President Joe Biden and other Democrats promise to curtail U.S. domestic oil production, the northeastern United States could face a historic energy crisis as temperatures fall this winter, burdening an energy economy already beset by record-high prices and oil shortages.

Signs of vulnerability in the Northeast have been apparent in recent months, Bloomberg reported, with retailers already rationing oil as stockpiles of diesel and heating oil are at a third of their normal levels. Those unfavorable conditions could bring about challenges to the Northeast's energy infrastructure that would be unprecedented in most Americans' lifetimes, according to Bloomberg:

Add some cold to the mix, and in the best-case scenario, Northeast consumers will shoulder the highest energy bills in decades this winter. The Biden administration, under pressure to tame prices ahead of the midterm elections, is considering ways to stash more diesel and gasoline in New England. In the worst-case scenario, a cluster of states with a combined economy bigger than Japan's will run out of fuel to keep the lights on and heat homes and businesses.

Even as the Northeast is facing energy shortages, Biden at a campaign event in New York on Sunday reiterated his commitment to shut down the U.S. fossil fuel industry. "No more drilling," Biden yelled at a climate protester in the crowd. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Democratic lieutenant governor Garlin Gilchrist on Saturday promised to "close more coal plants" to "strengthen our state's response to the climate crisis."

The threat of energy instability poses a difficult conundrum for the Biden administration, according to Bloomberg, because the administration may have to choose between boosting oil exports to European allies facing economic pain through their participation in sanctions against Russia and keeping oil supplies at home to help U.S. consumers.

Consumers in the Northeast are expected to face a punishing winter, with energy bills 23 percent higher than last year. And homes that rely on heating oil, of which there are many in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, may pay twice as much to heat their homes than the typical northeastern family, Bloomberg reported.

The Northeast isn't the only U.S. region facing a historic energy crisis. Last month, a major fuel supply company warned that conditions in the diesel supply market are "rapidly devolving" and that it expects several southeastern states to experience a serious diesel shortage.