U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out the Biden administration for its egregious energy policies that are stifling American energy development through out-of-touch and overly burdensome regulations. Thune noted that the Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending spree would further drive up energy prices for South Dakota families and make energy less reliable.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, Americans are currently dealing with the worst inflation in more than 30 years.
“High grocery prices, high rent prices, high gas prices, high car prices, increases in the price of household goods … the list goes on.
“Inflation is so bad that it has outstripped wage growth, resulting in a de facto pay cut for many Americans.
“Mr. President, one of the price hikes hitting Americans hard is the increase in the price of gas.
“Gas prices have risen 40 percent since President Biden took office.
“That takes a tremendous toll on family budgets.
“And of course high gas prices and other energy costs contribute to price increases on a whole host of other goods.
“Manufacturers facing higher transportation costs thanks to high gas prices, for example, are likely to pass on at least some of those increased costs to consumers in the form of price hikes.
“In my home state of South Dakota, families are facing an increase in home heating costs as high as 50 to 100 percent, depending on how severe of a winter we face.
“Nationwide, concerns over high heating costs this winter have been tempered by mild weather so far, but predictions of huge home energy bills could return with a period of sustained harsh weather.
“And that would be another financial blow for families whose budgets are already severely stretched by our current inflation crisis.
“It’s easy for, say, a wealthy Democrat politician to dismiss the consequences of inflation, but for families living paycheck to paycheck, an increase in the grocery bill or heating costs or the cost of a tank of gas can mean tough decisions – like choosing between adequately heating the house or filling the car to get to a job.
“So what has President Biden been doing to help alleviate rising energy prices and inflation?
“Well, the answer is, not much.
“First, he pleaded with the OPEC cartel to increase oil production and increase global supply, which is the single most influential factor when it comes to gas prices.
“OPEC was unmoved.
“Then the president recently announced the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – a move that Congress had, in part, already mandated.
“Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a short-term relief measure – if that – as it will do little to give our energy sector the certainty it is seeking to bring production and American energy jobs back online.
“Mr. President, while Democrats helped create the inflation crisis we’re experiencing by flooding the economy with unnecessary government money earlier this year, the president is not solely to blame for high energy prices, which have also been driven up by COVID-related issues.
“However, the president is certainly to blame for the hostile attitude his administration has displayed toward conventional energy production.
“And he is certainly to blame for the reckless tax-and-spending spree he is pushing, which would further drive up energy prices for American families.
“The president made clear his attitude toward conventional energy production on day one of his administration, when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline – an environmentally responsible pipeline project that was already underway and that would have delivered more than 10,000 construction jobs and helped decrease energy costs by increasing regional energy supply, all while being fully offset with a $1.7 billion investment in renewable energy.
“The president also almost immediately banned 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.
“Then of course there was the release of the first outlines of the president’s reckless tax-and-spending plan, which displayed a clear hostility to conventional energy.
“Given this record, it’s no surprise that many energy producers have been less than enthusiastic about coming fully back online as we emerge from the pandemic.
“The market signals to increase production are being muted by this administration’s burdensome policies and clear intent of sidelining American energy development.
“Then there’s the current version of the reckless tax-and-spending spree, which Democrats are pushing to pass in the very near future.
“This legislation will not only likely worsen our current inflation situation, it will also make our energy less reliable and more expensive.
“If Democrats succeed in passing their legislation, American families will have to brace themselves for even higher energy bills.
“One major driver of those higher energy bills will be the bill’s new fee – or tax – on methane, which is targeted at crippling the natural gas sector that spurred America’s recent energy renaissance and has actually been the largest driver of coal displacement.
“The American Gas Association says the proposed fee could add as much as 34 percent to natural gas bills.
“And that’s on top of any increases Americans may already be facing.
“As I mentioned earlier, home heating bills are already projected to rise as much as 50 to 100 percent in my state this winter – and that’s without the reckless tax-and-spending spree piling on.
“And if progressive Democrats have their way, Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree could also penalize our oil and gas sector by ending longstanding tax provisions like the percentage depletion deduction, which underpins an overwhelming number of independent producers representing roughly 90 percent of wells drilled in the U.S.
“Simply put, this administration wants to make it more expensive and more difficult to develop our abundant energy resources in favor of their preferred energy technologies and electric vehicles – with predictable consequences for Americans’ pocketbooks.
“And a word about those electric vehicles, Mr. President.
“The president’s transportation secretary recently suggested that families feeling the pinch of high gas prices could solve their problem by buying an electric vehicle, which would allow them to, quote, ‘never have to worry about gas prices again.’
“Well, I have news for the president’s transportation secretary: A lot of Americans can’t afford to replace their car with an electric vehicle.
“Not to mention that electric cars and trucks are still not a practical option for many Americans for other reasons.
“Secretary Buttigieg’s statement shows just how out of touch Democrats have become with ordinary Americans.
“Mr. President, I know Democrats are deeply invested in their Green New Deal fantasies of an instant, mostly electric energy regime.
“But the reality is that American consumers will need to use liquid fuels and electricity and heat from natural gas well into the future.
“And punishing or discouraging responsible American energy development in oil and natural gas will do nothing but drive up energy prices for consumers and force our nation to rely more on oil and gas imports from unstable areas of the world.
“We should be encouraging American energy development of every kind – from oil and natural gas to wind, solar, and biofuels – not artificially picking winners and losers and discouraging essential production.
“And with American consumers struggling with long-term inflation, the last thing we need to be doing right now is passing legislation that will drive up energy prices.
“Unfortunately, if Democrats have their way and succeed in passing their tax-and-spending legislation, Americans will soon be able to add even higher energy bills to the list of challenges they’re currently facing.
“So much for ‘building back better’ for the American people.
“Mr. President, while I’m on the topic of energy, I’d like to briefly comment on yesterday’s announcements from the EPA and USDA concerning biofuels.
“To put it simply, the administration can’t have it both ways on the renewable fuel standard, something agriculture stakeholders in South Dakota know all too well.
“Yesterday the EPA announced a proposal to take the unprecedented step of clawing back previously set biofuel blending targets.
“2020 volumes would be reduced by 2.5 billion gallons, and 2021 would see a reduction.
“Now, the EPA is trying to sell this by simultaneously proposing an increase in the 2022 blending volumes, which on its own would be favorable.
“But it’s far from enough to make up for the lost gallons.
“And keep in mind that the EPA’s proposal pulls back blending obligations from a final rule, giving stakeholders little confidence that this promised 2022 increase won’t meet the same fate.
“Again, not every component of yesterday’s announcement is bad on its own.
“Signaling an end to the out-of-control small refinery exemption program is long overdue, and it is consistent with the renewable fuel standard and a 10th Circuit ruling.
“It’s also good to see the Department of Agriculture moving forward with assistance funds for biofuel producers, but this was funding signed into law last December.
“It’s almost as if it was withheld from our producers for months so that USDA could help the EPA sell our ag stakeholders a bill of goods.
“Mr. President, I urge the administration to make good on its commitments to our farmers and finally leverage American biofuels for the energy and environmental solution they can provide.
“I yield the floor.”