Biden should take page from Reagan's playbook to restore energy dominance
By Sarah Chamberlain
Rampant inflation. Skyrocketing gas prices at the pump. A Kremlin invasion of one of its neighboring countries. A hostile Iran.
Ronald Reagan faced those issues because of Jimmy Carter’s failures. President Biden faces the same challenges dealing with a domestic energy and mineral production crisis created by his policies. But he can follow the early 1980 Reagan playbook and embrace policies that Congress will support in a bipartisan manner.
Reagan’s integrated solution – which subsequent Presidents adopted– was accomplished before an era where clean technology helped the United States become a net exporter of liquified natural gas to our economic partners.
He cut regulations, encouraged more domestic oil and gas production, pressured our NATO allies to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas exports, protected Persian Gulf energy supply lines for us and our allies, and encouraged partner nations like Saudi Arabia to increase their oil output.
The result? The collapse of the Soviet Union, the demolition of the Berlin Wall, and a true economic revival. Under Reagan – and others before Biden – we had energy dominance.
President Biden’s announcement that he’ll tap the oil reserve to push gasoline prices down is putting lipstick on a pig to distract from his failed policies. It will do nothing to increase the domestic production of our resources. It is a short-term panacea with an eye on the 2022 midterms, not a long-term strategy.
President Biden has already embraced the progressives’ environmental vision and its misguided opposition to all forms of carbon-based fossil fuels. The truth is that the United States is more environmentally friendly than many other large countries.
Congress and President Biden have embraced the Reagan playbook by banning Russian oil and gas imports and many other products.
The President could do much more.
He could lift restrictions on U.S. production to increase supply, lower prices, and continue exporting liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. While exports rose nearly 16% in March to a record high, with shipments to Europe leading the way, we can do better.
Europe got hooked on Russian gas despite President Reagan’s warnings. It now depends on Russia for about 40% of its LNG imports, thanks to a 3,500-mile gas pipeline from Siberia to Germany that Reagan unsuccessfully tried to block.
We can’t help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian gas without a Reagan-like strategy.
We need to shorten permit review timelines, streamline (not eliminate) debate over site selection and environmental impacts, and stop the weaponization of frivolous lawsuits.
Candidate Biden promised more domestic mineral production. President Biden reversed course and canceled federal mining leases. We need to reinstate those canceled leases and we need to access oil and gas on federal lands and waters.
We can reduce our overreliance on adversarial nations like Venezuela, Russia, and China.
We can support the industry’s efforts to reduce or eliminate carbon from natural gas at the time of combustion (carbon capture).
We can reinstate the Keystone XL pipeline and put the brakes on Putin’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to alleviate market uncertainty and reignite investment in the oil and gas sector.
We can abandon the effort to undo the streamlining of the National Environmental Policy Act accomplished under President Trump.
Environmentally conscious mining, drilling, and electricity generation should be the goal for the production and use of fossil fuels. We can grow American jobs while protecting the environment.
We can push back on the EPA's over-regulation, focusing on its destructive, misleading "Clean Power Plan." Environmentally conscious mining, drilling, and electricity generation should be the goal. Environmental regulations should be realistic and scientifically achievable.
The path forward is simple: Reduce regulation, encourage our European allies and Pacific partners to ban imports of Russian oil and gas products, free up our oil and gas reserves, and leverage what are some of the world’s most advanced (and cleanest) extractive technologies.
The Reagan strategy could be summarized in that previous paragraph; the Biden strategy requires a book-length summary. Reagan’s policies were rooted in a conservative, limited government, free market, pro-competitive approach.
Equity doesn’t stop at our borders.
Sarah Chamberlain is president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership.