On April 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled “Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump.”
This was the latest venue for an exercise of political theater. The majority called as witnesses executives from the oil and gas industry. It should be noted that Democrats convened their hearing on April 6 to berate oil and gas companies for not meeting current demand, but last October in a Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, they berated oil and gas companies for producing too much!
As the Republican Leader of the Subcommittee, I was ready to correct the record, and so were my Republican colleagues.
I noted in my opening remarks that President Biden entered office with American production providing a reliable, affordable, and secure domestic energy supply. His actions from day one sought to undercut American production. Those efforts are being felt in high prices, but the Biden Administration’s efforts to respond expose its fundamental misunderstanding of the energy industry’s operations. A temporary green light to produce oil from the Biden administration will not undo the layers of red tape and aggressive anti-fossil fuel policies driving gas prices to new highs.
Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA), the Republican Whip, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and a representative of a major energy-producing state, came prepared with comments from Joe Biden before he won the presidency which showed his intentions: “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill. Period. Ends.”
Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), another member of the Committee and representative of a major energy-producing state, supplied even more of then-candidate Biden’s declarations regarding energy.
In 2019, when asked if there would be a place for fossil fuels in his Administration, Joe Biden said, “We would make sure it’s eliminated.”
In January 2020, when asked about stopping new pipeline infrastructure, the candidate said, “Yes, yes.”
In February 2020, he said, “We are going to get rid of fossil fuels.”
Congressman Armstrong went on to point out that even after gas prices had risen by a dollar and Russia had invaded Ukraine, congressional Democrats introduced a bill imposing a major new tax on oil production, and President Biden’s budget proposed raising taxes on domestic energy production by $45 billion.
Anybody who reads this column will be familiar with what happened when President Biden took office: he sought to make good on these pledges immediately by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, issuing a moratorium on new leases for drilling on federal lands, and more.
The war on domestic production was carried out on other fronts as well.
Energy-related regulations at the federal level are most associated with agencies such as the Departments of Energy and the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. President Biden has sought to use financial regulators for the same work.
His Securities and Exchange Commission has rolled out proposals to impose onerous disclosures on finances related to energy. A nominee he picked for the Federal Reserve, former Obama official Sarah Bloom Raskin, had a history of pushing for the same agenda, which ultimately sank her nomination when even some Senate Democrats balked.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) noted that achieving the unrealistic electric vehicle goals of the Biden Administration meant to decrease dependence on gasoline would require an increase in mining of lithium by 2,000%, indium by 8,000%, and cobalt by 300-800%. Meeting such demands would have to be done overseas. We do not possess sufficient domestic sources of all of these elements, and the Administration is hostile to domestic mining anyway.
I believe our efforts in the Oversight and Investigations hearing demonstrated where the blame for high gas prices lies, and it is not primarily with the energy industry. It is with the Biden Administration.
If I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee in the next Congress, I would use our oversight responsibilities to hold the Biden Administration and officials in the executive branch, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, accountable for their performance in office. The matters in our jurisdiction are too serious to let the executive branch escape scrutiny.
For questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405, my Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671, my Washington office at (202) 225-3861, or to reach my office via email, visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.