Getting Gassy: CNN BEGS Readers ‘Don’t Panic’ About Four-Month High Gas Prices

March 13th, 2024 12:48 PM

CNN is back to its old schtick of desperately spinning higher gas prices to look like no big deal for Americans, even though they’re currently hovering at four-month highs. 

CNN addressed gas prices hitting $3.40 a gallon on Friday, after bottoming out at $3.07 in January. Instead of just reporting the straight news, CNN reporter Matt Egan begged readers in his headline: “Gas prices have surged to four-month highs. Don’t panic.” Egan has become a comedic figure at CNN for persistently doing the facts tango for President Joe Biden to deceive Americans struggling to pay at the pump, so it’s not surprising he’s back to his old tricks again.

Egan warned in his latest spin, “The speedy price increase threatens to unwind progress on inflation and add to the financial pressure some Americans are feeling.” But not to fear though, Egan pleaded, “experts say there is no reason to panic about gas prices, at least not yet. Gas prices always rise at this time of the year.” But it’s not “always” the case that U.S. oil refineries are simultaneously struggling significantly to stay afloat due to increasingly daunting maintenance costs and regulations, inconvenient little factoids that undercut Egan's entire premise.

Despite Egan’s simplistic take, recent price increases are not just a simple matter of seasonal upswings, as Prices Futures Group Senior Account Executive Phil Fynn told Fox Business on March 13. Flynn cautioned that people were still feeling the lingering “reverberations” of various refinery outages. If the U.S. refinery industry continues to stumble, said Flynn, “‘we could see a continuation of the uptick in gasoline prices that we have seen.’"

But Egan instead strained to find some kind of silver lining in the gas price squeeze. “The good news is that refineries are starting to get healthy again” after the refinery utilization rate “rebounded significantly in early March” following multi-year lows in February, Egan claimed. But as always with Egan’s half-cocked reporting, there are significant holes in his narrative. 

American Energy Alliance President Tom Pyle ripped Egan’s spin apart in an exclusive interview with MRC Business, saying, “CNN has it completely wrong with respect to the health of U.S. refineries, which are under constant assault from liberal blue state governors and the Biden administration.” Pyle critiqued that Biden and company, given their apathy towards fossil fuels,  “have no incentive to increase our overall refining capacity.” 

According to Pyle, U.S. oil refining is currently “under pressure by federal and state policies that are prioritizing biofuels and renewable diesel over petroleum refining.”. The American Emergency Alliance president warned that many smaller refineries are “shifting to making smaller amounts of food energy at refineries that used to process oil.”  Pyle concluded that the federal policies are basically “driving US refining to mirror California’s, where they have lost 11% of refining capacity over the past decade.” 

Even now, footnoted Pyle, the Biden administration is weaponizing the Environmental Protection Agency through its “Risk Management Program” to target the use of catalysts for making alkylate “an important component of modern, clean-burning gasoline.” In effect, warned Pyle, it will become even “harder to make gasoline in the U.S,” at a time when China just surpassed the U.S. “for the first time” ever in oil refining capacity in 2022. Does that sound “healthy” to you, Egan?

On Feb. 20, energy news website didn’t mince words about how “[o]verall, the U.S. refining industry is in bad shape” — the polar opposite image of what Egan portrayed. The U.S. reportedly lost six “operable petroleum refineries” over the past three years, with refining capacity “falling to 18.27 million bpd as of August 2023,” analyzed. In fact, the energy news site noted that “high maintenance costs as well as a government that is not too keen on fossil fuels have hampered recovery in the post-pandemic period.” Pyle told MRC Business that the government meddling was “unfortunate” because the U.S. “enjoys enormous resources in the form of hydrocarbons which can be made into distillates — including diesel — more cheaply and efficiently, but for government mandates and made-up markets.” 

In early January 2024, U.S. refinery utilization nosedived 11 percent, “reaching a nadir of 81% during the weeks ending February 9 and February 16,” according to petrochemical market intelligence website on March 8. That plunge, wrote ChemAnalyst journalist Sasha Fernandes, “briefly breached the five-year (2019–23) low, signaling a significant downturn in operational activity.” 

But Egan couldn’t be stopped, proceeding to gaslight readers (no pun intended) on how “gas prices are still a bit cheaper than a year ago when the national average was $3.45 a gallon.” That spin is a 180-degree turnaround from how Egan initially treated gas prices when they surged past $3 in July 2021 for a then seven-year high. “Gas prices are above $3. Biden doesn’t have a magic wand to fix that,” read his 2021 headline. Ah, so $3 gas in 2021 was bad, but now Americans are just supposed to shrug off the $3.40 average they’re paying now because at least it’s not as pricey as a year ago? Consistency be damned.

ChemAnalyst had a rebuttal to the kind of spin leftist media talking heads like Egan employ whenever they’re reporting bad economic news in Biden’s world:

Despite retail average prices for gasoline and diesel in the United States remaining below their 2023 counterparts for this time of the year, diminishing inventories across major U.S. refining regions have propelled retail prices upward in recent weeks. The substantial drop in refinery utilization is attributed to reduced plant operations in both the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions, exacerbated by intensified seasonal patterns, consequently impacting inventories.

Hang it up, Egan. People aren’t buying your pro-Bidenomics snake oil. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact CNN at 404-827-1500 and demand the outlet quit gaslighting Americans on gas prices and oil refining under Biden’s anti-fossil fuel obsessed administration.