Recent federal policies have placed our energy production out of step with domestic demand, and misguided efforts to date have failed to fill the supply gap. Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion into Ukraine, the Biden administration halted crude oil deliveries from Russia. Russian oil accounted for three percent of all U.S. petroleum imports in 2021 a small, but statistically important portion of U.S. crude. While the President may have made the right decision sanctioning Russia, he did not provide an actionable plan to offset the ban on Russian oil, let alone provide solutions that meet the increased demand for an economy recovering from a pandemic. In the process, these moves have illuminated a major national economic risk. With gas prices reaching yet another record high, we need to boost American production to modulate energy prices.
Instead of looking to increase energy production here at home, the administration has turned to other countries. Like Russia, countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela do not share our geostrategic and geopolitical interests, and now hold increased influence on American fuel costs. We need to be doing all we can to fortify our national energy infrastructure and solve this critical domestic issue right here at home.
Unfortunately, long before the invasion of Ukraine, the administration set policies into motion which indirectly led to the conundrum America is currently facing. President Biden has been antagonistic toward the American energy industry from his first days in office when he instituted a ban on new energy leases on federal lands and offshore and mounted an all-out assault on pipeline infrastructure.
In June 2021, the builders of the Keystone XL pipeline announced their intent to abandon the project after the Biden administration blocked the (previously approved) cross-border permit. Similarly, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still reviewing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), despite multiple previous reviews that found the pipeline posed no significant environmental impacts. DAPL follows rigorous safety standards and is one of the safest pipelines ever built. Additionally, the DAPL project created 12,000 jobs for American pipeline workers and has been safely operating since June of 2017, transporting more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil every day.
As a retired Army Corps officer, I am well acquainted with pipeline permitting issues. Redundant, burdensome reviews and processes hampered by partisan politics, jeopardize the pipeline, the livelihoods of the pipeline workers, the ability to make risk-based investment decisions, and our energy security overall. Despite being illogical, these economically harmful policies are likely in service of activists with no viable alternative solutions and whose agenda ultimately impacts the wallets of every American.
This, in part, is why we are witnessing significant spikes in fuel costs since early 2021. Unfortunately, even after the invasion of Ukraine and an economy finally emerging from the worst of the pandemic, the administration has done little to adjust its policies to meet the demand. Just last week, the Biden administration canceled oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, which has halted the potential to develop domestic energy on more than one million acres. By slow-walking pipeline permitting, failing to expand energy development along the coastal shelf, and halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands, the administration has caused enduring harm to our energy sector.
Sadly, middle-class America is paying the price for the administration‘s obstinacy. According to AAA, current prices for regular gasoline and diesel prices have topped $4.56 and $5.57 a gallon respectively, nearly doubled since the President entered office. These are the highest prices ever recorded. Price surges have directly contributed to widespread inflation increasing costs and reducing availability of food and household goods.
The answer to our country’s current energy crisis is right here at home. If the United States does not support a robust energy market domestically, it will always be dependent on foreign oil, with no capacity to surge to meet increasing demands. Focusing on domestic sources deters drastic outcomes and benefits the economy, enabling the U.S. to prosper no matter the foreign circumstance.
• Tom Magness (U.S. Army colonel, retired) served as a commander in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He is the founder of the Eagle Leadership Group and acts as a strategic adviser to the Grow America’s Infrastructure Now Coalition (GAIN).
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