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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the Democrats’ radical energy agenda has helped create record-high inflation and soaring fuel prices. Thune argued that Congress and the administration should instead pursue a pro-growth agenda that reduces the United States’ reliance on foreign countries for oil, cuts costs for hardworking families, and helps restore America’s energy independence.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, yesterday morning June inflation numbers were released.
“And as usual with this administration, the news was not good.
“Inflation rose once again in June, to 9.1 percent – the highest inflation since November 1981.
“I was in college the last time inflation was this bad.
“Mr. President, Americans are suffering.
“Everywhere Americans turn, they’re being asked to pay more.
“More for cleaning supplies.
“More for gas.
“More for health insurance.
“More for groceries.
“A new analysis yesterday from the Joint Economic Committee found that inflation will cost the average American household a staggering $718 a month over the next year.
“$718. A month.
“And, Mr. President, that will happen even if prices stop going up tomorrow.
“$718. Per month.
“More than $8,600 for the year.
“No working family can afford that.
“Mr. President, a major reason that we’re in this crisis is because of Democrats’ decision to flood the economy with unnecessary government money with their so-called American Rescue Plan Act.
“And unfortunately, there is no easy solution to the crisis they helped create.
“But the first thing – the first thing – should be to do no more harm.
“Incredibly, however, Democrats are currently attempting to double down on the strategy that helped create this crisis in the first place by passing a version of the Build Back Better tax-and-spending spree they tried to force through last year.
“Apparently Democrats think more government spending – like the government spending that helped get us into this mess – plus new taxes are a good solution for an inflation crisis and an economy teetering on the brink of recession.
“Mr. President, if Democrats want to help our country get out of this inflation crisis, more unnecessary government spending and new taxes are the exact wrong way to go about it.
“In fact, the biggest thing Democrats can do is to avoid making this crisis worse by flooding the economy with more unnecessary government money.
“And after that, the biggest thing Democrats – and the administration in particular – can do to help alleviate this crisis is to unleash American energy production.
“I don’t need to tell anyone that energy prices have been a major contributor to our inflation crisis.
“Gas prices are up nearly 60 percent.
“The current cost of a gallon of regular gas is $4.60 – almost double what it was when President Biden took office just 18 months ago.
“And the price of diesel is even worse – which is a big concern for farmers and ranchers back home in South Dakota and around the country.
“Not to mention all of our truckers.
“Electricity is up 13 percent.
“Utility gas service is up 38 percent.
“Americans are feeling the pinch.
“And of course high gas prices – and utility prices – don’t just cause direct pain at the pump, they also contribute to higher prices across our economy.
“Which means that lowering energy prices is one of the most important things we can do to help ease high prices on a variety of goods.
“And the way to lower energy prices is to unleash American energy production – including (and especially) conventional energy production.
“Unfortunately, the president has shown – and continues to show – a clear hostility to conventional energy production, despite the fact that our economy cannot function without conventional energy.
“I’m a longtime supporter of alternative energy – from wind to biofuels – 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, 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 that means that unless we want Americans to be permanently buried under the pain of high gas prices, we need to invest in responsible production of oil and natural gas.
“We have tremendous natural resources here at home, and the ability to extract those resources in a far more environmentally responsible way than frequently happens in other countries.
“But unleashing American production is going to require action from the president – who despite the current energy price crisis continues to display hostility to domestic production.
“He touts the number of leases oil and gas companies have available, but he fails to mention that just three months ago his administration made it harder for oil and gas companies to actually make use of the leases in question by increasing the regulatory burden for environmental reviews.
“On top of this, thousands of drilling permits – which are required to actually begin drilling on oil and gas leases – are currently stuck in the approval process at the Department of the Interior.
“And at the beginning of this month, the administration released a new offshore drilling plan, which includes an option to offer, at most, a paltry 11 new leases over the next five years.
“It also leaves the door open for zero new leases.
“If this proposed five-year plan doesn’t make it clear that the president isn’t interested in increasing our domestic energy production, I don’t know what does.
“I could go on, Mr. President.
“I could mention the administration’s proposed SEC climate-disclosure rules that are designed to discourage investment in conventional energy.
“Or the president’s quest to increase taxes on domestic oil and gas production.
“Or Democrats’ efforts to impose a new fee – or tax – on methane that could cost consumers an additional $35 billion to $69 billion annually.
“But I’ll leave it there.
“But, Mr. President, I hope, I really hope, that the president and his administration will take a good, hard look at their hostility to conventional energy production.
“Inflation is at 9.1 percent.
“American families are paying nearly twice what they were paying in gas prices just 18 months ago.
“And utility gas prices have increased sharply.
“Unless Democrats want Americans to be facing staggering prices at the pump and on store shelves for the long term, then the administration needs to start encouraging domestic production of conventional energy.
“That means not just approving leases, but making it easier for oil and gas companies to actually develop those leases and produce oil and natural gas.
“It means encouraging, not discouraging, investment in responsible conventional production and infrastructure like natural gas pipelines.
“And it means giving up attempts to discourage domestic energy production with new and higher taxes or burdensome ESG regulations.
“American families are struggling, Mr. President.
“And the president can actually do something to help them.
“I hope he will.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”