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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” will further erode America’s energy security and do nothing to help alleviate the economic pain from which many Americans are already suffering as a result of high energy prices.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, high energy prices – like high grocery prices – have become a distinguishing feature of the Biden economy.
“Electricity prices increased 15.8 percent in August – the largest year-over-year increase since 1981.
“I wasn’t even married the last time we saw an electricity increase like this.
“Now I have grandchildren.
“Utility gas service was up 33 percent from a year ago in August.
“And the price of home heating oil – which many households in places like New Hampshire rely on to keep their homes warm in the winter – has soared.
“All told, the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association estimates that home heating costs for the winter heating season will average $1,202 – a 17.2 percent increase from last season.
“And I haven’t even mentioned gas prices.
“Gas prices may have decreased from their $5.00 high this summer – partly as a result of President Biden’s problematic decision to draw down our nation’s emergency petroleum reserves to their lowest point since 1985 with no plan to refill them – but customers are still paying $1.30 more per gallon than they were when President Biden took office.
“And the average price for a gallon of gas has increased this week, ending a streak of diminishing – although still high – gas prices.
“Mr. President, if there’s one thing we should be doing about high energy prices, it’s increasing our domestic energy supply – including our supply of conventional energy, namely oil and natural gas.
“I’m a longtime supporter of alternative energy, and I come from a state that derives a substantial portion of its electricity generation from wind.
“In fact, in 2021, over 50 percent of our state’s power generation came from wind, and 30 percent came from hydroelectric on the Missouri River.
“But if it weren’t for traditional fossil fuels backing up that generation, especially on days when the wind is still, we’d be left in the dark.
“The fact of the matter is, no matter how much Democrats might wish it were otherwise, alternative energy technology has simply not advanced to the point where our country can rely exclusively on alternative energy.
“And attempting to pretend we’ve advanced further than we have, or have solved all the requisite supply chain hurdles, will lead to nothing but economic pain for American families.
“Just look at California, whose overreliance on alternative energy technology has resulted in an electricity grid that cannot sustain the demands being placed on it.
“Californians were recently asked to ration their energy usage and refrain from charging electric cars during certain hours to reduce strain on the grid.
“And yet the state has issued a final regulation that will require all new cars sold in the state to be electric or otherwise zero-emission by 2035.
“I don’t see this ending well for Californians.
“And this is the kind of unrealistic thinking that has permeated pretty much the entire Democrat Party.
“I am all for advancing clean energy technologies.
“I’ve done a lot of work here in Congress to advance clean energy, from renewable fuels to wind energy.
“But until clean energy technology has advanced to the point where it can truly, reliably, and affordably supply Americans’ energy needs, we need to continue to invest in responsible conventional energy production as part of the all-of-the-above energy strategy we need.
“Otherwise the high energy prices Americans are struggling with right now could get even worse … and persist long into the future.
“President Biden, of course, has been discouraging conventional energy production since day one – which is one reason why high energy prices have become a defining feature of the Biden administration.
“From canceling the Keystone XL pipeline to discouraging investment in conventional energy with a targeted ESG agenda to making it more difficult for oil and gas companies to develop leases, President Biden has shown a distinct hostility to conventional energy.
“Last month, the president signed into law the so-called Inflation Reduction Act – the partisan tax-and-spending spree Democrats jammed through Congress in August.
“I’ve mentioned the high energy prices Americans have been experiencing.
“Well, apparently Democrats think that the best solution to that is to pass a bunch of new fees and tax hikes … that will drive up energy prices.
“Their so-called Inflation Reduction Act includes a slate of taxes on conventional energy production at the worst possible time.
“The methane fee in their bill alone has the potential to drive up Americans’ natural gas bills by 17 percent.
“Just what Americans need while they’re paying 15.8 percent more for electricity and 33 percent more for utility gas service and $1.30 more for every gallon of gas …
“But at least Americans can feel good about the fact that their tax dollars will be going to fund Democrats’ Green New Deal fantasies – like tax credits for wealthy Americans to purchase electric vehicles.
“The so-called Inflation Reduction Act – which, by the way, even the Democrat chairman of the Senate Budget Committee admits will do nothing to fix inflation – pours hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into Green New Deal priorities.
“In addition to tax credits for wealthy Americans, the Inflation Reduction Act also includes funding for things like expensive electric vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service, mitigating urban heat island hot spots and monitoring gaps in tree canopy coverage, and climate-related political activity.
“Climate-related political activity.
“Mr. President, Democrats succeeded in pushing through the Inflation Reduction Act – and its tax hikes on conventional energy – by promising one of their members a vote on permitting reform legislation.
“Now, real permitting reform is something I heartily endorse.
“Too many energy permits spend years mired in bureaucracy, leading to completely needless delays in energy development.
“Cleaning up the permitting process would help advance both conventional and renewable energy production.
“Unfortunately, it’s not clear that the permitting reform deal that was released last night will do anything to meaningfully address permitting delays—and in some cases, could make things worse.
“For one, it would expand FERC’s authority to override state jurisdiction for projects the president designates as ‘national interest facilities,’ which is why the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission is opposed to it.
“And it would give states wide latitude to kill the very infrastructure projects the bill purports to expedite by expanding state Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
“In other sections where this proposal seeks to shorten deadlines for various stages of permitting, which is a goal I support, the consequences for not meeting a deadline are merely notifying the Office of Management and Budget and the lead department secretary.
“It’s hard to see this actually moving the chains, Mr. President.
“And on top of that, it’s starting to seem extremely doubtful that Democrats actually have the votes in their conference to pass permitting reform legislation.
“Republicans, thanks to the efforts of Senator Capito, have a meaningful, substantive permitting reform bill ready to go.
“It’s supported by every member of our conference.
“And it would need the support of just 10 Democrat senators to pass.
“It would be nice to think that there are 10 moderate Democrat senators – if the words Democrat and moderate can still go together in this time of the Democrat Party’s rapid rush to the extreme left – who would be willing to join Republicans to pass our legislation and finally take a real step to ease the burden of high energy prices on American families.
“But given the president’s – and the Democrat Party’s – hostility to any measure that would genuinely start addressing high energy prices, I’m not holding my breath.
“Mr. President, high prices – for energy and just about everything else – have become the distinguishing feature of the Biden economy.
“And if Democrats continue to take steps to discourage conventional energy production, high energy prices will be a Democrat legacy that lasts long into the future.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”