ICYMI: Barrasso Op-Ed: President Biden’s Misguided Energy Transition

September 28, 2022

By: U.S. Senator John Barrasso

Sept. 28, 2022

Washington Times


President Biden‘s push for an “incredible transition” in energy has taken us from energy dominance to record inflation and sky-high energy prices. It’s weakening our economy and hurting our families. 

America and the world can’t allow an energy transition that chokes off U.S. energy production. By now it ought to be obvious even to Democrats that we need more - not less - American energy. 

The Energy Information Administration anticipates that U.S. energy demand will keep rising for decades. Worldwide, energy use will grow nearly 50% by 2050. Instead of debating which energy sources to phase out, Washington should be focused on how to meet the growing demand with reliable, affordable and clean American energy. 

One fact is clear. The United States is a model for clean energy production. If we want to address the need in an environmentally responsible way, America must lead. 

We’re the world’s top producer of natural gas. Even the European Union now accepts that natural gas is environmentally sustainable. Moreover, its use as a baseload power source makes wind and solar possible. As we watch the energy crisis unfolding in Europe, it’s obvious we should be doing more to give them an alternative to Russian supplies.

American oil production also is much cleaner than in other countries. The amount of gas flaring per barrel produced in the U.S. is among the lowest in the world. It is 18 times lower than in Venezuela and seven timers lower than in Iran. Both are countries the Biden administration is in negotiations with to lift sanctions. It makes no sense to encourage less environmentally responsible oil production abroad while killing production at home. 

America’s coal is secure and plentiful, especially in Wyoming. We need to make sure America is the leader on carbon capture and storage technologies to make this vital resource as clean as we can, as fast as we can. And we must do it without raising costs for the consumer. 

In the years ahead, the U.S. will also open a new generation of advanced zero-emissions nuclear reactors. That includes TerraPower’s Natrium reactor in my home state of Wyoming. With ample reserves of nuclear fuel, we have the capacity to supply our own needs and the needs of our allies. 

The U.S. is also a leader in alternative energy technologies. The problem is the excess red tape stifling its development here and ceding the international market to bad actors. 

Minerals such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, manganese, and others are essential in the production of electric vehicles. This means they will have to be produced in unprecedented quantities. But instead of producing those here, the U.S. and the world continue to rely on just a few sources. 

China, for example, controlled about 60% of the graphite and rare earths produced in 2020. The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces about 70% of the world’s cobalt supply. Russia is a large supplier of nickel. 

The United States has ample reserves of many of these critical minerals. We need to eliminate the unnecessary government regulation and the threat of litigation that make it impossible to access them. 

Growing our energy supply would have another positive effect. It would help bring prices back down. 

Just-released inflation data show the cost of energy is up by 24% over the last year. Gasoline is up 25% over the same time period, and more than 50% higher than when President Biden took office. Millions of Americans are finding it difficult to cover huge energy bills. The situation may get much worse this winter. 

We have the ability to use America’s abundant energy to both power our nation and help our allies. Democrats in Washington are committed to keeping those resources locked in the ground. 

In a world so desperate for more energy, the last thing we need is an expensive and unachievable “transition.” Europe’s tried that, and it has been a disaster. Instead of trying to replace one source of energy with another, we need to encourage additional domestic production from a range of sources. That includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar. 

It’s good for America and good for the world. 

Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He also serves in Senate Republican leadership as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. During his 24 years as an orthopedic surgeon, he served as President of the Wyoming Medical Society and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year.