After years, the debate on energy and climate is somehow lacking seriousness. If the White House and Congressional Democrats were being transparent about their intentions, they’d admit their climate policy agenda has two main goals: destroying the U.S. oil and gas industry and increasing government spending on favored projects, financed by higher energy costs on American households and businesses.
While the Democrats seek to incite panic, missing is the recognition of just how fundamental energy is to everything in the economy. Let’s look at the facts. The U.S. is the world leader on energy not only in economic terms but also in environmental gains - for now at least. Why are we the leader in environmental gains? It’s because the robust American economy innovates and finds new, cleaner solutions.
But that truth is too inconvenient for liberal Democrats in Washington. They use climate policy as a cover for their real intent destroying the hydrocarbon industry and raising taxes to spend money on pet government projects.
The majority of Americans know that raising taxes on employers so that Congress can grow a government spending account is neither good public policy nor is it likely to go far toward solving problems.
To borrow a line from President Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.” Real solutions are driven by the private sector through innovation, not through regulation and higher taxes. In the case of energy and climate change, serious policy solutions should be based on the principles of what’s best for the American economy and for emissions reductions. Problems are solved through public policy’s ability to spur private investment and innovation.
One area in need of investment is carbon-free nuclear power. In the 1970s, power companies across the country built more than 100 nuclear reactors that have provided as much as 20% of our country’s electric power. The effort was an enormous economic boon for the country, and still employs many thousands in high-paying jobs. These plants have long lives but are nearing the end of their useful service.
If the Democrats were actually serious about emissions reductions, wouldn’t you expect they’d be urgently working on the new generation of nuclear power plants to replace the old ones that are closing? They are not. Rather, their priority for energy is to tax oil and gas companies out of business and to balloon spending by doling out over $300 billion to subsidize electric vehicles and build more wind and solar projects. While these technologies certainly have a place in the mix, relying on them exclusively is not a serious strategy.
Energy is one of the highest value sectors in the U.S. economy and a major competitive advantage for our country. The recently proposed, so-called Made in America Tax Plan, is actually pretty transparent in laying out President Biden’s intention to destroy the oil and gas industry. Under Biden’s plan, doing business in Iran would be easier than doing business in the U.S. Why would we want to go back to relying on the Middle East for our energy supply?
Thousands in my small state of Mississippi work in the oil and gas industry. For the many young adults working in the business making $70,000 or more per year for their families, simply telling them to go seek another job with similar wages is not feasible.
But tax increases on oil are not President Biden’s only harmful decree. He has stopped construction on the Keystone Pipeline that would bring petroleum down the center of our country to the refineries on the Gulf Coast. He also has stopped offshore oil and gas exploration. Both of these moves will result in higher emissions. Products not transported by pipeline will be transported by trucks and trains instead. As we know, energy not produced in the U.S. is imported through big tankers travelling overseas. More emissions, not less. His is not a serious strategy or an honest attempt to reduce emissions.
We need honesty out of Washington and that starts with admitting that domestic oil and clean-burning natural gas are permanent parts of our energy sector. Our objective is to make using and transporting energy a cleaner endeavor than it is today not pretending this industry will or even could just go away. Our economy depends on it.
If it will make the Democrats feel better to hear from someone on their side of the aisle, they should remember and ponder the words of Democratic strategist James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Biden’s policies may be good for his liberal friends, but not so much for the environment or the economy.
• Tate Reeves is the 65th Governor of Mississippi. In his State of the State address on Jan. 26, 2021, Gov. Reeves described Mississippi as “unconquerable,” noting that its citizens continue marching forward though they’ve “been tested by every force of nature, disease, and human frailty.” He touted that Mississippians have “improved our education, and we’ve shown the world that we’re open for business.” He is a husband and father to three daughters.
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