- Peter Osborne
Capito: It's time to unleash American energy independence
By Sen. Shelley Moore Capito
According to AAA, the average gas price in West Virginia today is $4.07. Some parts of the country are paying more than $5–or even more than $6!–per gallon of regular unleaded gas. As a country, we’ve surpassed the highest recorded average gas price ever.
Unfortunately, this was all too predictable given the Biden administration’s domestic energy policy actions.
On Day One of his presidency, President Biden managed to immediately kill thousands of union jobs and paralyze America’s energy industry with the Executive Orders that killed the Keystone XL pipeline. At peak capacity, the pipeline would deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day to American refineries.
The president also put a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, moving America from energy superpower back to an increased reliance on foreign adversaries for fuel feedstocks. Equally as important, these are countries that have much more lax environmental rules.
The Biden administration has also been openly against all-of-the-above energy resources and anti-pipeline with its rhetoric, through its actions, and embodied by the people they have elevated to leadership roles like Gina McCarthy and John Kerry.
The administration has also injected regulatory uncertainty at a time of record inflation.
And, they want to completely rewrite the definition of WOTUS — otherwise known as Waters of the United States — to regulate ponds and ditches (even on private lands) all across the country. A broader definition will devastate energy production as well as sectors like agriculture and home building at a time when their products are already in high demand and under immense inflationary pressures.
To add onto this, the administration is considering new, tighter methane regulations that will also raise energy costs, including for home heating and electricity bills.
It’s revising the regulations to implement the National Environmental Policy Act — otherwise known as NEPA — undoing the streamlining that was done during the Trump administration. NEPA touches nearly every infrastructure project in our country.
More red tape means more costs for producers. This regulatory uncertainty is increasing energy prices for Americans across the board and is felt the most acutely at the gas pump.
Then you have the Energy Department slow walking the buildout of LNG export terminals, which means we can’t export much-needed energy to our allies as efficiently as we could be.
Endless regulatory delay and environmental lawsuits — including on permits already issued — delay more than pipelines and kill more than jobs.
They also crush our economy with inflation and leave us, and our allies, more susceptible to bad actors like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran.
All of these actions have a tremendous chilling effect on investments, buildout, and research and development of domestic energy infrastructure.
This couldn’t come at a worse time.
In fact, we’re seeing the importance of energy independence play out in real time with the destruction in Ukraine.
The Biden administration’s policies that I just outlined weaken our ability to provide an energy backstop to our European allies trying to break their Russian oil and gas habit.
Right now, the world is begging for American leadership. Ukraine is begging for American leadership. Europe is begging for American leadership. That includes energy leadership.
We need to incentivize American energy infrastructure buildout, drill on federal lands, and provide regulatory certainty.
We must address the poor energy policy decisions of the Biden administration in order to unleash full American energy production to provide long term energy affordability for ourselves and our allies.
We must act quickly because the energy security of the free world depends on it.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., serves on the following Senate committees: Appropriations, Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and Rules and Administration.
This op-ed originally ran in The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register on April 2, 2022