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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how the Biden administration’s radical climate policies and its assault on domestic energy production are creating record-high energy prices for South Dakota families. Thune noted that if Democrats take their climate hysteria to new levels, by discouraging lending to certain sectors of the agriculture economy, for example, Americans could also see food prices rise more sharply than they already have.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, from the beginning the Biden administration has displayed a hostility to fossil fuels.
“President Biden set the tone on day one of his administration 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 and is only now making new onshore leases available for sale after being ordered to do so by a federal judge.
“His first budget contained a series of tax hikes on conventional energy production.
“And his budget this year, released in the midst of an energy crisis, calls for hiking taxes on fossil fuel companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.
“And the list goes on.
“Perhaps even more troubling, however, is the more insidious campaign the president has been conducting against conventional energy production, using the long arm of financial regulation and government pressure to directly or indirectly discourage investment in fossil fuels and other industries disliked by his political base.
“The Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued a completely unworkable proposed rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose information not only about their own greenhouse gas emissions but about those of their suppliers and even their customers – clearly attempting to make companies diminish or outright cut ties with traditional energy.
“Never mind whether this expanded environmental, social, and corporate governance, or ‘ESG,’ disclosure desired by the far left can be accurately or consistently measured – much less proved to have a positive impact on the economy or for the climate.
“But the administration doesn’t stop there.
“The Commodity Futures Trading Commission established a so-called Climate Risk Unit that potentially seems designed to pressure industries into making certain investment choices.
“The Federal Reserve, which has zero business inserting itself into debates over climate policy, is suggesting that it should provide, quote, ‘supervisory guidance’ to large banks on so-called ‘climate-related risks.’
“Similarly, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently issued draft principles for banks on ‘climate-related financial risk.’
“President Biden’s climate envoy, former Secretary of State John Kerry, has actively pressured banks not to invest in fossil fuels.
“And, disturbingly, the original draft of the National Credit Union Administration’s ‘Draft Strategic Plan 2022-2026’ – though since revised – went beyond discouraging investment in conventional energy production and actually suggested that investing too heavily in agriculture could be problematic for climate-related reasons.
“I’m not sure where the National Credit Union Administration thinks our food is going to come from if banks and credit unions don’t provide capital to their farm and ranch clients …
“Mr. President, all of these measures, as I said, are designed to directly or indirectly discourage investment in conventional energy production and other industries the far left believes interfere with its unrealistic environmental agenda.
“And that is a problem.
“While I am a longtime supporter of clean energy and come from a state that in 2020 derived 83 percent of its energy generation from renewables, the fact of the matter is that our country is nowhere close to being able to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Clean energy technology has simply not advanced to the point where we can replace all conventional energy production with renewables.
“And cutting off investment in clean, responsible oil and gas production will do nothing but drive up energy prices for American consumers and increase our reliance on energy from unstable or unfriendly countries – which, I might add, often extract energy in a far less environmentally friendly way than do U.S. producers.
“Americans are already struggling with high energy prices, thanks in part to the Biden administration’s hostility to domestic oil and gas production – I don’t think too many Americans are eager to see energy prices rise even further.
“In the worst-case scenario, limiting investment in U.S. conventional energy production could not only drive up prices but contribute to fuel shortages here at home – as we may end up seeing with countries that are overly reliant on Russian energy.
“And I’m pretty sure there aren’t many Americans who are eager to wait in line at gas stations for a rationed amount of gas.
“And it’s not just higher energy prices that Americans could have to worry about.
“If Democrats take their climate hysteria as far as discouraging lending to certain sectors of the agriculture economy like livestock, which now seems possible, Americans could also see food prices rise sharply.
“I think it’s safe to say that is the last thing American families need in an economy already beset by 8.5 percent inflation.
“Not to mention the fact that agriculture should actually be regarded as a good investment when it comes to climate change considerations.
“American agriculture should be leveraged as part of environmental and conservation policies, and our farmers have a vested interest in our land and water.
“Add in the biofuels industry, and our agriculture sector can responsibly provide food, fuel, and fiber for the nation.
“In fact, the Department of Energy has found that ethanol, driven by increasingly higher crop yields, has a more than 40 percent lower lifecycle carbon footprint than gasoline.
“Beyond all this, Mr. President, is the fact that the president’s attempt to dictate investment by privately owned banks and credit unions and companies is a misuse of the financial regulatory system.
“The president’s use of the financial regulatory system to pressure companies on energy investment has all too familiar echoes of the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point initiative, which used the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Department of Justice to target companies whose activities the Obama administration didn’t like.
“The question also becomes where does all this end?
“The government is already pressuring companies on firearms and energy investment.
“And now there are dangerous signs that agriculture could be targeted on perceived climate-related grounds.
“Is the Biden administration going to pressure banks not to lend to companies who don’t espouse the Biden administration’s extreme abortion agenda?
“Or who donate to causes the Biden administration does not support?
“Is he going to pressure banks not to lend to states with laws the administration doesn’t like?
“These are legitimate questions.
“As we’ve seen more than once, the Biden administration doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for those who disagree with its far-left policy goals.
“Concerns like these are one reason why I led 10 of my fellow Republicans earlier this month in sending a letter to the president expressing our alarm with his administration’s use of the financial regulatory system to attempt to choke off lending to conventional energy production and potentially target American agriculture.
“And I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the Biden administration and its regulators are not making improper use of executive power to discourage investment in essential production and pick winners and losers among American industries.
“Americans should not have to suffer because Democrats’ climate agenda is out of control.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”