The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently held a hearing with executives from six major U.S. oil and gas companies to assess the American energy landscape, given recent increases in gas prices and international dynamics such as Russia’s Ukraine aggression.
Predictably, the hearing quickly turned partisan as Democrats repeatedly attempted to blame skyrocketing gas prices on the American energy companies. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly has tried to hold the industry “accountable” by consistently claiming that “this is not the time to sit on record profits.”
Gas prices are currently at record highs, $4.27 average in Pennsylvania; it was $2.42 at this time in 2020, almost half. The Democrats and White House can be thanked for this nationwide increase. Their calls for American energy independence contradict actions taken by President Biden and his federal officials on energy policies.
We had become a net-energy exporter of energy in 2019; the first time since 1952. On Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order that banned the sale of oil and gas leases on federal lands and commissioned the Department of Interior to report on the environmental impacts of drilling on federal lands. While eventually overturned by a federal judge, his executive order resulted in a decrease in domestic energy production, moving us away from true energy independence.
Inconceivably, the administration has repeatedly attempted to stonewall oil and gas companies from being a part of the clean energy transition. An emissions-free future involves a great deal of infrastructure development, planning, and implementation, something the White House does not seem to understand. Our country, and the rest of the world, is unable to transition to clean energy at the pace the White House envisions. The U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency both have stated that oil and natural gas will need to play a part in the transition to a lower-emission future.
Pennsylvania is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas. The industry provides close to 500,000 jobs and over $78.3 billion to our state’s economy. Tax revenue collected from our state’s “impact fees” has totaled roughly $2 billion since its inception in 2012. Simply said, Pennsylvania is an energy state. Communities in every corner of the commonwealth rely on the jobs and tax revenue supported by energy development.
I was relieved to see Congressman John Joyce stand up for not only one of our state’s critical industries and the communities that rely on it, but also for American energy independence at large. He was able to put the facts on the table and correct the misinformation that the White House and other federal officials have been attempting to sell when it comes to American energy production.
Following the hearing, Congressman Joyce summarized by saying, “President Biden’s failed energy policies have placed Green New Deal priorities ahead of American families, and the result is the skyrocketing gas prices that my constituents are now paying at the pump. This hearing is a chance to call attention to those failed policies and provide a roadmap back to American energy dominance.”
Federal officials must hold themselves accountable for our current national economic crisis, rather than attempt to blame Russia and American energy producers. They must work with, not against, American energy producers to ensure that our nation can become truly energy independent. This is how to lower gas and other energy prices, support communities that rely on energy development, and help our allies abroad who are beholden to foreign energy empires like Russia.
Will Tallman, from Reading Township, is a former elected representative to the state House.