By: U.S. Senator John Barrasso
July 2, 2021
Every Fourth of July, Americans pile into their vehicles and take to the roads to celebrate our independence. We drive to backyard cookouts, town parades, community pools and local firework shows to celebrate the events of 1776.
In 2019, America celebrated a different kind of independence – energy independence. That’s when, for the first time since 1952, the United States produced more energy than it consumed.
We should enjoy it while we can. With President Biden in charge, it won’t last long. Bad policy is already creating conditions like higher gasoline prices that we haven’t seen in a very long time.
Last July, President Trump promised America’s energy workers, "We will never again be reliant on hostile foreign suppliers. We will defend your jobs and … America’s newfound energy independence."
He wasn’t kidding. His administration unleashed the nation’s energy potential. He cut the reams of red tape that strangled energy projects, lifted the ban on coal mining on federal lands, greenlit long-delayed energy pipelines, and opened up the Arctic for energy exploration. President Trump also encouraged fracking, instead of trying to stop it.
Over the four years of his presidency, oil production jumped 28% and natural gas 26%. By 2020, domestic production of both was at record highs.
Americans saw the results. We led the world in oil and gas production. Now, we’re a net energy exporter for the first time in nearly 70 years.
For most Americans, this is a cause for celebration. Not for President Biden. His administration’s hostility to U.S. energy companies and workers that provide four-fifths of our energy is unprecedented.
On his very first day in office, the president killed the Keystone XL Pipeline and 11,000 American jobs with the stroke of a pen.
The next week he "temporarily paused" new federal oil, gas and coal leases. In reality, it’s a ban with no end in sight. It could destroy a million jobs and will cost consumers a bundle in higher utility bills.
Twenty-two percent of our oil and 13% of our natural gas comes from federal lands. The demand for these fuels isn’t going away. If we don’t produce them here, we’ll have to import them.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland admitted as much. During her confirmation hearing, she agreed a leasing ban would not slow global oil and gas production. It would simply shift that production to other countries.
The OPEC oil cartel and adversaries like Russia would love to see us more dependent upon them to meet our energy needs. We shouldn’t pursue policies that make that more likely. We are better off selling energy to our friends than having to buy energy from our enemies.
The energy policies the Biden administration is pushing won’t make us more energy secure. They’ll do the opposite. Technologies like solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries use imported materials often produced by countries that are our strategic adversaries.
China, for example, dominates the supply chain of copper, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and other critical minerals. The Muslim Uighur minority in China is used as forced labor in the production of solar panels. Cobalt mining in the Congo is notorious for using child labor. We all remember the term "blood diamonds" from the 1990s. These are "blood batteries."
These supply chains are badly tainted. We should mine more of these minerals here at home, in states like Wyoming.
Given all this, is it any wonder we're seeing surging fuel prices and inflation? The president’s desire to spend without limit is driving inflation to levels that punish most working families. April saw the highest inflation rate in over a decade.
As energy costs rise, so do the prices of groceries and household products that are shipped across the country. People are noticing. The price of meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and dairy have all gone up.
Nowhere are Americans feeling the pain more than at the pump. Gasoline prices have spiked about 70 cents per gallon since President Biden was inaugurated. They will only continue to climb.
This Fourth of July, drivers will pay almost a dollar more per gallon than they did last year. That means the typical driver of full-size pickup will shell out nearly $111 for a fill-up. That’s $33 more than they paid just one year ago. That’s the high price of bad policy choices.
America’s political independence from Great Britain has lasted 245 years. Here’s hoping our energy independence can survive four years of the Biden administration.
Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, is ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.