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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the need for an all-of-the-above energy policy and urged President Biden to take a more realistic approach to American energy. Thune noted that any energy policy that doesn’t embrace conventional and renewable sources is insufficient, and the president must stop undermining the nation’s energy supply with policies that prioritize renewables. Thune also promoted Republican proposals to strengthen the permitting reforms enacted in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, summer is almost here, and with it summer driving season.
“And with gas prices up 48 percent since President Biden took office, and inflation still a major problem, the cost of those family road trip miles is likely on Americans’ mind.
“And it’s not just the cost of gas that can be challenging in the summer.
“Hot temperatures can bring a corresponding increase in electricity bills, as families rely more on their air conditioners.
“And with electricity prices up 22 percent since President Biden took office – and, as I said, with inflation still a major problem – those bills can be a stress.
“But it’s not just energy prices that are of concern this summer, Mr. President.
“A recent article in the Washington Post entitled ‘Fresh blackout threats emerge as power grid faces a stressful summer,’ noted, and I quote, ‘The nation’s power grid is in precarious shape heading into what could be an especially hot summer … with much of the country at risk for outages if it experiences scorching weather scientists say looks increasingly likely.’
“‘Much of the country at risk for outages.’
“Mr. President, the reliability of our nation’s electric grid is becoming a serious concern.
“And it’s being driven in part by attempts to move our country off conventional energy before we have the necessary technology to rely mostly on renewables.
“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.
“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, Mr. President, 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.
“Mr. President, I am a longtime supporter of renewable energy.
“But the fact of the matter is, technology has simply not advanced to the point where our nation can rely solely or even mostly on renewables.
“And attempting to move to zero-emission energy before we have the technology and resources to get us there is going to result not only in price increases but in serious deficiencies in our nation’s energy supply.
“I say going to result in.
“But as I’ve mentioned, premature attempts to move us to a Green New Deal future are already compromising the reliability of our electric grid.
“And the Biden administration has been driving the problem with its anti-conventional-energy policies.
“While the president has made isolated positive energy decisions – like approving the sale of E15 fuel for this summer – in general his presidency has been characterized by environmental extremism and hostility to conventional energy.
“This year alone, he’s closed off a substantial part of the Arctic to oil and gas development, and his Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule that threatens to close a number of fossil-fuel-powered power plants and undermine the stability of our electric grid even further.
“Those are policies with far-reaching negative effects.
“An unstable electric grid, for one, can be a very serious problem.
“It’s not just a matter of inconvenience.
“Electricity blackouts threaten key systems.
“Soaring temperatures without the relief of air conditioning can leave elderly Americans vulnerable.
“The president’s anti-conventional-energy policies are not victimless.
“They have consequences.
“And we are well on our way to seeing those consequences in action.
“Mr. President, the solution here is simple.
“The president needs to stop undermining our nation’s energy supply with policies that attempt to prematurely push us onto renewables.
“And he needs to unleash American energy production – conventional as well as renewable.
“We did receive some good news on the energy production front last week with the passage of the debt ceiling agreement the president reached with Speaker McCarthy.
“Thanks to the efforts of Speaker McCarthy, the Fiscal Responsibility Act makes a down payment on permitting reform by placing a two-year time limit on environmental impact statements and a one-year time limit on environmental assessments.
“It also implements a ‘One Federal Decision’ framework that establishes a lead agency and single document stream for permitting decisions.
“Currently it takes an average of four and a half years for an environmental impact statement.
“These reforms will shrink that timeline and help both conventional and renewable energy projects get off the ground more quickly.
“However, there’s more work to be done to streamline the permitting process, and I hope we will be able to find bipartisan agreement on further reforms.
“Bogging projects down in environmental review for half a decade provides no meaningful environmental advantages, delays valuable energy projects, and can discourage domestic energy production.
“And additional permitting reform should be a priority.
“Senators Capito and Barrasso have put forward comprehensive contributions to the discussion, the RESTART Act and the SPUR Act, respectively.
“And the House has passed H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act.
“Collectively, these bills would resume federal lease sales for oil and gas development, set timelines against endless legal challenges, and advance an American, all-of-the-above energy comeback.
“Mr. President, after two and a half years of demonstrated hostility to conventional energy production, the president seems unlikely to change his ways.
“But he still has time to embrace a more realistic approach to American energy.
“And I hope that the increasing fragility of our electric grid – to say nothing of higher energy prices – will encourage him to take a more all-of-the-above approach to energy production.
“Otherwise he may be remembered for presiding over not just an inflation crisis, but an energy crisis as well.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”