Recent Op-Eds

Rising Temperatures, Rising Prices

By Sen. John Thune

June 3, 2022

I think it’s fair to say that in South Dakota, the unofficial start of summer begins when the temperature hits – and stays – over 65 degrees ... give or take. It’s been another long winter and spring, and I think we are all looking forward to some warmer, sunnier days. Few things can top summers in South Dakota, and some of my fondest childhood memories are from our summer road trips to the Black Hills. We’re blessed to call South Dakota home, and South Dakotans quickly win the hearts of all who travel to the state. We are home to the Corn Palace, the Missouri River, the Badlands, Wall Drug, the Black Hills, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and more. As they say, there is something for everyone.  


With the school year officially wrapped up, families are not only starting to fine-tune their summer schedules, but they’re having to revisit their budgets, too. Everything from sports camps, summer school, carpool duty, road trips, and nearly everything else in between – whatever keeps the kids busy – may cost more this summer due to rising gas prices and soaring inflation. For lots of folks, a summer road trip is a no-brainer, but the price hikes hitting Americans threaten to shorten plans or keep travelers home altogether. As I travel throughout the state, I continue to hear from South Dakotans who tell me about the tremendous toll these high fuel costs have on their household budgets.


The national average for a gallon of gas leapt over $4 in May and seems to climb higher each day. In fact, the national average for a gallon of gas is double what it was the day President Biden took his oath of office in January 2021. Heading into peak travel season, this means families are reprioritizing their spending and having to make tough decisions on whether or not they can afford to spend the day driving through the Badlands or having enough groceries to get through the week.


I am frequently asked what can be done to lower these egregious fuel costs. The short answer: an all-of-the-above energy strategy. Since taking office, President Biden has pursued a radical agenda that is hostile to conventional energy. The president cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office and he almost immediately froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands – sending a clear signal to oil and gas producers that his administration would be reluctant to work with them to increase American energy production. As we are seeing now, the only effect of curbing conventional energy production is to either force Americans to pay more for their energy or rely more on foreign sources for oil, like the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The more we rely on energy from abroad, the more vulnerable Americans are to energy price spikes and global shortages.


The ongoing energy crisis hasn’t spurred the Biden administration to take action beyond raiding our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which only minimally stunted rising prices. However, I am pleased that the administration recently permitted the summertime sale of E15 fuel, which went into effect on June 1. I have long advocated for the year-round sale of E15 as a way to offer American drivers a more affordable and cleaner option at the gas pump. Earlier this year, I led a bipartisan letter to the president calling for this very policy. It’s a step in the right direction, but President Biden needs to get serious about leveraging all American energy solutions. Failure to take meaningful action to reverse rising energy prices will cast a long shadow over the summer and our economy.


As families all across the country have to dig deeper into their pocketbooks in order to fill up their tanks and make ends meet, I will continue to press the administration to abandon its failed energy policies and put our country back on track to restore our energy security.