Barrasso: Bernstein’s Support for Higher Energy Prices is Disqualifying

April 27, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), sent a letter to Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC) of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The letter noted prior writing supporting higher energy prices and inaccurate information in the testimony of Jared Bernstein, and encouraged the Committee to reject his nomination for Chair of the President’s Council on Economic Advisers.

Read the full letter here and below.

Dear Chairman Brown and Ranking Member Scott,

I am writing to you in firm opposition to the nomination of Jared Bernstein to be Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). In particular, I would like to draw your committee’s attention to Mr. Bernstein’s extreme views on energy.

Mr. Bernstein’s nomination comes at a time when Americans are still paying more for energy than they should because of the wrongheaded policies of this administration. While most Americans long for the pre-Biden days when energy was affordable, Mr. Bernstein has different ideas. He likes high energy prices and thinks the rest of us should like them, too.

In October of 2019, Mr.Bernstein wrote an article for Axios on energy and climate that praised the Green New Deal—a plan so radical no Senate Democrats could bring themselves to support it when it came to a vote that March. He wrote that “Fossil fuels are severely underpriced.” Because of the policies he has advocated since joining the Biden Administration, Mr. Bernstein has gotten his wish—higher fuel prices.

The week his Axios article was published, the price of gasoline was $2.74 a gallon and the price of diesel fuel was $3.05 a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Today families and businesses pay more than a dollar extra per gallon. It doesn’t end there. Heating oil is more expensive. Propane is more expensive. Natural gas is more expensive. Electricity is more expensive.

During his testimony before your committee, Mr. Bernstein said he could not recall whether he recommended denying the Keystone XL pipeline a presidential permit. He is on record opposing the pipeline. In a 2011 blog post on the pipeline, he quoted approvingly climate activist Bill McKibbon’s idea that “Stopping Keystone will buy time.” If that does not happen, he wrote, “then oil from the tar sands will flow, and it will keep flowing until we put a price on carbon or come to our senses, whichever comes first.”

Mr. Bernstein also misinformed your committee when he claimed “…I think the important point here is the domestic production of traditional forms of energy under which our administration has a top track record of any presidential administration on record, 11.6 million barrels a day, considerably higher than the previous administration, higher than any other Administration on record.”

This Biden Administration talking point is simply false. EIA data show that in 2019, U.S. crude oil output was 12.3 million barrels per day. Moreover, in no single month of the Biden Administration has crude oil production come close to the record high set in November 2019 of 13 million barrels a day.

Instead of a green ideologue, we need a CEA Chair who understands the importance of, and is an advocate for affordable and reliable American energy—including oil, gas, and coal. Mr. Bernstein’s record clearly is in opposition to this idea. But now that Mr. Bernstein’s wants to be confirmed by the Senate, he has now changed his tune. Your Committee should not be fooled.

Mr. Bernstein is the wrong choice for this important post. I ask that you and your colleagues oppose his nomination.