Alabama Monthly Newspaper Column

Alabama Monthly Newspaper Column

February 2023

This winter, prices for the main energy sources used to heat homes have continued to skyrocket. Families are forced to pay 45% more for heating oil, 25% more for natural gas, and 11% more for electricity. It is projected that these price increases will only get worse as temperatures drop. This leaves some families with an unthinkable choice. More than 40% of the households in Alabama had to reduce or skip necessities such as food or medicine to keep their lights on. I don’t want Alabamians to be forced to choose between feeding their families or keeping their houses warm, but unfortunately this is the new reality brought on by the Biden administration’s war on American energy.

For the past two years, President Biden slashed our energy production, emptied our petroleum reserves, and increased our reliance on foreign energy sources under the guise of a so-called ‘climate crisis.’ On his first day in office, he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, costing American jobs and telegraphing to the world that American energy independence is no longer a priority. President Biden’s cancellations didn’t end there, as he then delayed permits required to bring additional production online from offshore federal oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to cutting domestic production, the Biden administration began aggressively draining our strategic petroleum reserve for political gain, bringing it to its lowest level since 1984 by releasing up to one million barrels per day — the largest release in history. If that wasn’t enough, President Biden willingly handed over nearly a million barrels of oil from our emergency stockpile to China. However, China was likely able to secure much more than a million barrels from America’s inventory as sales from the strategic petroleum reserve are unrestricted. Now, the reserves have around 372 million barrels—almost half of its 726.6-million-barrel storage capacity.

The strategic petroleum reserve was established to serve as a reliable source of energy in the event of a catastrophe, not to give our enemies like China a leg up. Depleting the strategic reserve is a dangerous short-term fix to a long-term problem. The real solution is to work with American oil and gas producers to increase domestic energy production.

Instead of undermining the domestic energy industry and emboldening foreign adversaries, we should unleash American energy to restore our energy independence and provide relief for Alabamians and families across the country.

I supported the Keystone XL pipeline as a commonsense approach to bolster American energy independence. The pipeline stood to transport more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil per day, which would drastically reduce our reliance on foreign adversaries such as Russia, Iran, and Venezuela. The Keystone XL pipeline would have also strengthened our economic security, providing up to 59,000 jobs and injecting an estimated $9.6 billion into the economy. I also called for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to quickly end their de facto ban on new drilling that rapidly diminished the share of royalties from the oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico shared with Alabama via the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).

In order for domestic producers to be successful, we must roll back radical regulations and restrictions that stifle the production and transmission of oil and gas. These producers are the backbone of the world’s largest economy, but they have come under attack by politicized federal agencies like the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To restore energy independence and end the crusade on fossil fuels, we must ease regulatory burdens on companies, rescind the moratorium on gas leases, and bar restrictions that reduce American energy security.

Climate fearmongers are disconnected from reality. Unaware or untroubled with the problems facing everyday Americans, green activists continue to pursue actions and implement regulations in response to a crisis yet to materialize. Alabamians are tired of paying for these games. It is time to unleash American energy to lower costs, create jobs, and strengthen our national security.

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