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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher December 1, 2021

No evidence that Biden canceling an oil pipeline caused higher U.S. gas prices

If Your Time is short

  • President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was not in operation, did not cause the recent increases in U.S. gasoline prices.

A post that blames President Joe Biden for higher gas prices in the United States cites lower prices in three other major oil-producing countries, saying:

"Gasoline in Russia $2.10, Kuwait 78 cents, Saudia (sic) Arabia 98 cents. Nobody shutting pipe lines down there." It ends with an abbreviation that is known to be a taunt directed at Biden.

The Nov. 19 post, which alludes to Biden’s Jan. 20 decision to revoke permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project in the Plains, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Gas prices are lower in those three countries than in the U.S. But the post goes too far in suggesting that the canceled pipeline project is to blame, or that the project would have made much difference in gasoline today’s prices if it had continued. 

Experts say the recent increases in U.S. gas prices are due mainly to a lack of oil production, much more than any actions taken by Biden, such as canceling the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. 

"The pipeline shutdown has absolutely nothing to do with gas prices," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for  GasBuddy. "Prices are higher because production has lagged behind, not because there isn't enough pipeline capacity — there is."

Prices in the post are wrong

The post doesn’t cite a source or a date for the prices it quotes. It understates the current price of gasoline in the three foreign countries by 18% to 58%.

Here were the average prices for a gallon of gasoline as of Nov. 22, according to GlobalPetrolPrices.com:

U.S.: $3.758
Russia: $2.560
Saudi Arabia: $2.351
Kuwait: $1.314

The price tracking site notes that while crude oil prices drive global trends in gasoline prices, retail prices for fuel vary widely from country to country because of taxes and government subsidies. 

Featured Fact-check

Unlike the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait provide subsidies that reduce the cost of gas to consumers. 

Why prices are up: Supply hasn’t met demand

As we’ve reported, De Haan recently calculated the year-over-year price change in gasoline going back to 2002. The 66.1% increase earlier this year ranks as the fastest year-over-year increase during that period.

This is not surprising, experts say. During the coronavirus pandemic, when travel and commuting were sharply curtailed, the demand for gasoline declined significantly, and so did the price. So year-over-year figures compare today’s prices to an unusually low level a year ago, exaggerating the jump.

Since the initial economic wallop from the virus in the spring of 2020, demand for gasoline has risen steadily as business activity has increased. Yet supply hasn’t been able to recover as quickly, thanks to delays in restoring drilling capacity, higher transportation costs, and sluggish production increases.

American Petroleum Institute spokesperson Scott Lauermann said that "first and foremost, higher crude oil prices are the main cause of higher gasoline prices." He agreed that the price of crude, the biggest component of gasoline prices, is higher this year because demand is rising while supply is constrained.

John Stoody, a spokesperson for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, said that Biden has restricted supply by canceling the Keystone XL project and by steps such as suspending leasing and drilling permits on U.S. federal lands. The pipeline industry lobbying group opposed Biden’s Jan. 20 decision to cancel the Keystone XL permit.

Other experts have said that canceling the Keystone, which was not operating yet, would not have an impact on U.S. gas prices for at least a period of years. 

Our ruling

A Facebook post alludes to Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and claims, "Gasoline in Russia $2.10, Kuwait 78 cents, Saudia (sic) Arabia 98 cents. Nobody shutting pipe lines down there," suggesting a link between the pipeline project and rising U.S. gas prices.

The post understates the gas prices for other countries and goes too far in suggesting that cancellation of the Keystone pipeline is to blame for the recent rise in U.S. gas prices, or that the project would have made a difference if it had continued. 

Experts say rising gas prices are due to an imbalance of supply and demand, and aren’t affected by the pipeline project.

We rate the claim False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Nov. 19, 2021

GlobalPetrolPrices.com, "Gasoline prices, US Gallon, 22-Nov-2021," Nov. 29, 2021

PolitiFact, "How high are today's gasoline prices compared with recent history?", Nov. 22, 2021 

PolitiFact, "Why are oil prices so high? And what can be done about it?", Nov. 4, 2021

PolitiFact, "Are gas prices going up? And is it Joe Biden’s fault?", March 2, 2021

PolitiFact, "Keystone XL suspension probably won’t boost oil prices for Americans," Feb. 15, 2021

CNN Money, "Gas prices around the world," accessed Nov. 30, 2021

U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Gasoline explained: Factors affecting gasoline prices," March 2, 2021 

Email, John Stoody, vice president of government and public relations for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, Nov. 29, 2021

Email, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for  GasBuddy, Nov. 29, 2021

Email, American Petroleum Institute spokesperson Scott Lauermann, Nov. 30, 2021

International Energy Agency, "Energy subsidies: Tracking the impact of fossil-fuel subsidies," accessed Nov. 30, 2021

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No evidence that Biden canceling an oil pipeline caused higher U.S. gas prices

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