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Thune Warns of Biden’s Anti-Conventional-Energy Policies

“If the president doesn’t start encouraging conventional as well as renewable energy development, consumers – and our country – are going to pay a heavy price.”

May 3, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how President Biden’s Green-New-Deal, anti-conventional-energy policies jeopardize our nation’s energy supply and drive up prices for American consumers. Thune noted that the president should be pursuing an all-of-the-above energy policy that embraces the full spectrum of available renewable and conventional energy sources. Thune also urged President Biden to utilize biofuels to their full potential, following the administration’s decision to allow the summertime sale of E15 fuel at Thune’s request.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, last week I came to the floor to talk about how the president’s economic policies are failing to serve the lower- and middle-income Americans he claims are his priority.


“The president talks about wanting to give American families ‘a little bit of breathing room,’ but his big-government, big-spending policies are taking away Americans’ breathing room – as cash-strapped families struggling with the effects of the president’s historic inflation crisis can attest.


“Well, today, Mr. President, I want to talk about another set of the president’s policies that aren’t serving Americans – the president’s energy policies.


“Since the day he took office, President Biden has pursued an agenda that is hostile to conventional sources of energy – namely, oil and natural gas.


“He set the tone on his very first day in office when he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline – an environmentally responsible pipeline project that was already underway and that was to be paired with $1.7 billion in private investment in renewable energy to fully offset its operating emissions.


“He also 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.


“And he’s continued along the same lines ever since.


“From raising taxes on conventional energy to proposing a rule that would effectively mandate that automakers only make electric vehicles beginning in the near future, the president’s policies have targeted conventional energy.


“In March, the president announced that he would close off a substantial part of the Arctic to oil and gas development.


“And in the same week, his Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule – its so-called “Good Neighbor” rule – that threatens to close a number of fossil-fuel-powered power plants.  


“So why is all this a problem, Mr. President?


“After all, members of both parties support alternative energy technologies.


“Why are the president’s efforts to shut down conventional energy production a problem?


“Well, Mr. President, the president’s attacks on conventional energy are a problem because conventional energy still plays an essential role in providing a steady, reliable energy supply to American consumers.


“No matter how much the White House might wish it weren’t the case, the technology to fully transition the United States to clean energy simply doesn’t exist yet.


“And all the Green-New-Deal, anti-conventional-energy policies in the world can’t change that fact.


“What the president’s Green-New-Deal, anti-conventional-energy policies CAN do, however, is jeopardize our nation’s energy supply and drive up prices for American consumers.


“Americans know the energy price hikes of the Biden administration all too well.


“From restricting oil and gas production to imposing tax hikes on conventional energy, President Biden’s energy policies have driven up Americans’ energy costs.


“But that will be nothing compared to what will happen if the president succeeds in choking off – or drastically reducing – conventional energy production.


“Prices will soar. 


“Blackouts, brownouts, and calls for energy rationing will become commonplace.


“And our economic and national security will be in jeopardy.


“We’re not yet at the point where we’re experiencing blackouts and brownouts on a regular basis – unless I guess you’re a resident of California, whose energy grid is known for being unreliable because of the state’s overreliance on renewables.


“But the president’s policies could push us over the edge.


“Mr. President, in February the PJM Interconnection – which manages a substantial part of eastern America’s electric grid – released a report warning that fossil fuel plants are being forced to retire at a faster rate than new renewables can be brought on line, at a rate of roughly two to one.


“In other words, Mr. President, we’re rapidly approaching a situation in which we simply don’t have the ability to keep up with electricity demand.


“And, as the report underscored, that situation is being driven by anti-conventional-energy policies.


“The Wall Street Journal, which weighed in after the PJM report was released, noted that, and I quote, ‘Most projected power-plant retirements are ‘policy-driven,’ the report says.’


“In other words, power plants aren’t closing because they’ve reached the end of their operating life. 


“They’re closing because of policies designed to discourage conventional energy.


“I’ve already mentioned the EPA’s new ‘Good Neighbor’ rule, which could force power plants in 22 states to close. 


“Then there are things like utility-company environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, policies – policies that utility companies can voluntarily adopt, but that this administration wants to mandate – which the PJM report highlights as a factor in plant closures.


“Not only do overreaching ESG policies force some of our most reliable energy facilities offline, these facilities are also being replaced with technologies like solar that are inherently intermittent and can’t be dispatched in times of high demand.


“The Wall Street Journal notes that, and I quote, ‘Illinois and New Jersey climate policies could reduce generation by 8,900 [megawatts].’


“That amount of energy would be enough to power over 7 million households. 


“So, in other words, Mr. President, policies that discourage conventional energy are already having an effect and threatening our nation’s energy supply.


“And if the president continues to pursue these types of policies, his presidency may be remembered not just for a historic inflation crisis but for setting off a long-term energy crisis caused by an unreliable and insufficient energy supply.


“Mr. President, instead of trying to bring about a clean-energy future before we have the technology to get us there, the president should be pursuing an all-of-the-above energy policy – an energy policy that embraces the full spectrum of available energy sources, both renewable and conventional.


“I am a strong supporter of clean energy, like so many of my Republican colleagues.


“But unlike Democrats, Republicans recognize that our nation is not going to be fully transitioning to 100 percent zero-emission energy any time soon, no matter how much the administration would like it to.


“There are a lot of hurdles to be crossed before we can rely solely on clean energy.


“And so Republicans are committed to supporting both alternative energy and the responsible development and deployment of the conventional energy we need to keep our nation’s energy grid reliable and Americans’ energy costs down.


“For evidence, you need look no further than the energy legislation recently passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives, which would advance both responsible conventional energy development and clean-energy technologies.


“Predictably, the Senate Democrat leader has declared this legislation ‘dead on arrival’ in the U.S. Senate.


“But Democrats are so beholden to the radical environmental wing of their party that anything that doesn’t adhere to their Green-New-Deal orthodoxy isn’t up for discussion.


“But Democrats’ opposition is unfortunate – not just because this legislation would help ensure an adequate supply of conventional energy but also because it would help advance alternative energy projects.


“Republicans’ legislation would tackle permitting delays, which are a leading impediment to energy development – including alternative energy development.


“Republicans’ legislation would also actually help support the electric-car development that Democrats are so committed to by enabling the development of critical mineral resources here at home – the same critical minerals that are essential ingredients in electric car batteries.


“And, Mr. President, while I’m on the subject of cars, I will say that the president made one right decision on energy last Friday by approving the sale of E15 fuel for this summer.


“Americans saved $57 million last year thanks to summertime E15 sales.


“And with the war in Ukraine continuing to stress fuel markets, renewing this E15 permission will help drive down the expected summer surge in gas prices while at the same time benefiting our environment and offsetting production cuts from OPEC.


“But while I’m glad the president listened to calls from me and others to extend E15 sales through the summer, it’s unfortunately one of just a handful of times where the president has opted for reliable and affordable energy instead of an unrealistic anti-conventional-energy policy. 


“Mr. President, an all-of-the-above energy policy – a policy that embraces both conventional and renewable energy sources – is essential for keeping energy prices affordable, ensuring the reliability of our nation’s energy supply, and keeping our nation secure. 


“And if the president doesn’t start encouraging conventional as well as renewable energy development, consumers – and our country – are going to pay a heavy price.


“The president has already ensured that he will be remembered for a historic inflation crisis.


“He should make sure that he isn’t remembered as the instigator of a future energy crisis as well. 


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”