Oil, gas industry reacts to support from Elon Musk

At the new Tesla Gigafactory in eastern Travis County, hundreds of new electric automobiles could be seen parked outside.

Meanwhile, thousands of people driving gas-powered vehicles were feeling the pinch at the pump. With prices at almost $4 gallon across the Austin area, people like Gloria Johnson are wondering how much higher it may get.

"It’s outrageous, but we have to pay it, we need to get around. We got to do what we got to do," said Johnson and her friend Shemeka Davis.

The situation is bad, but yet, not a family budget buster, according to landscaper Jesus Cedepda. He was filling up his truck in Cedar Park Monday morning.

"Before it was like $50, now it is like $70 to $80 a week," said Cedepda.

The high price of gas even has the owner of Tesla worried. On Friday, Elon Musk posted on social media, "Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil & gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures."

Musk went on to say he expects his electric car business to take a hit. He noted sustainable energy solutions cannot instantly make up losing Russian oil and gas

"I think Musk is recognizing the reality, and he's recognizing what Rick Perry said a few years ago is that we need freedom gas exported all across the globe," said Todd Staples, the President of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.

It’s no surprise Staples agrees his industry needs to ramp back up. But he also believes in a blended approach to energy independence.

"I don't want to discount the fact that we really do believe and all of the above energy approach is a smart policy approach. But the market needs to be recognized as playing an important role, and we need to make certain that the platform is available for all energy sources to compete equally. And that's not what has occurred in America," said Staples.

Over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed oil and gas production is currently near record levels. She went on to promote the Biden Administration's goal for more clean energy technology as the best way to be energy independent. 

Staples disagreed with Psaki’s accounting and took exception to what he considered to be political spin.

"So to suggest that renewables are the real answer in today's quandary is to be disconnected from reality, and consumers and voters are smarter than that," Staples.

The debate over who or what is to blame for the higher prices at the pump can be frustrating. For some, like Shemeka Davis, they don't have an opinion.

"I really don’t have an opinion, on that at all, it is what it is, it’s not going to change the face that it’s still going up and we still have to pay," said Davis.

A grand opening ceremony at the Tesla plant near the airport is planned for early April. As for meeting Europe's energy needs, Musk is urging leaders there to restart their mothballed nuclear power stations.

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