The Biden administration should lift regulations on oil and gas production | Opinion

By Earl Baker
Biden administration spokesperson Jen Psaki has been assigned the unenviable task of fronting for the Biden Administration’s logic defying positions on energy. Whether or not she believes the talking points she is spouting is one thing, but her recent analysis on how the United States should best respond to the energy shocks in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine illustrates the cognitive dissonance the administration exhibits on energy security.
In response to recommendations that the United States should lift restrictions on oil drilling on federal land and restart the Keystone XL pipeline to combat increasing oil prices, Psaki suggested that these proposals were a “misdiagnosis of what needed to happen” and that we “need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general.”

Such cavalier dismissals of America’s domestic energy needs are indicative of the hostility that President Biden has shown towards traditional energy production and infrastructure since his first day in office. They are a major reason why America and its allies are in this current energy predicament.

The fact of the matter is Biden Administration’s platitudes about advancing alternative energy projects to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil disregards the fact that renewables will not ensure reliable and affordable energy that Americans demand today. It also ignores the fact that the United States has the ability to produce significant amounts of its own oil and gas, if only the Biden Administration would lift regulations that are standing in the way.

Ending the current energy shortages and high prices tied to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the impending ban on Russian oil imports could be dealt with in a much more immediate and cost-effective way; by restarting pipeline projects such as Keystone XL, which would bring millions of barrels of oil to the market every day and allowing energy producers to tap into America’s vast oil and gas reserves.

The administration must reevaluate its posture toward energy leasing, both on onshore federal lands and offshore. In January of 2021, President Biden directed the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and on offshore waters. The indefinite pause on energy leases on federal lands has contributed to higher prices on gasoline and increased home heating and cooling costs.

The offshore leasing plan, which is renewed every five years, is set to expire at the end of June. Regrettably, the Interior Department has not signaled any intent to renew the five-year plan. This lack of clarity from the administration diminishes American investment and, as a result, increases our dependence on foreign energy.

Even Elon Musk, the king of solar power and electric cars, has called on America to produce more fossil fuels to help gain energy independence arguing that”sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports.” A recent Rasmussen poll further shows that the American public hold a similar sentiment and that 70% of them are in favor increased production of oil and gas.

States like Pennsylvania can do much to fill the void left by Russian oil and natural gas. As the second largest producer of natural gas in the country, the Commonwealth is a leader in energy exports both domestically as well as to our allies overseas. Regrettably, opposition to new pipeline construction and a reluctance by regulators to approve any new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export infrastructure has left both average Americans as well as our allies high and dry. Leadership in Washington will be needed to help change such policies.

Biden administration critics have claimed there are 9,000 unused leases and the energy sector hasn’t taken advantage of this access. This critique ignores the reality of how leasing works. A Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “First, companies have to obtain additional permits for rights of way to access leases and build pipelines to transport fuel. This has become harder under the Biden Administration. Second, companies must build up a sufficient inventory of permits before they can contract rigs because of the regulatory difficulties of operating on federal land.”

It is unfortunate that some policymakers in Washington want to try and leverage the crisis in Ukraine to further advance policies that will do nothing to curtail our dependence on foreign energy or reduce energy costs. This simply misses the mark and invites further aggression from Vladimir Putin. We must all work together to bring maximum economic pain upon the Russians for causing this crisis and boosting America’s domestically produced energy to free ourselves and our allies from Russian oil and natural gas will be a key part of that plan.

Earl Baker is a former three term County Commissioner and two term State Senator of Chester County. He chaired the State Senate’s Labor and Industry Committee.

Author: Earl Baker
Publication: Penn Live
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