- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sen. Steve Daines wants President Biden to spur domestic energy production to combat skyrocketing gasoline and heating costs across the country.

Mr. Daines, Montana Republican, introduced legislation on Tuesday requiring the Interior Department to restart oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters. The bill aims to boost domestic energy production, which has lagged since Mr. Biden took office.

“We must do what we can to bring back Made in America energy jobs and restore our global energy dominance by supporting an all-of-the-above energy portfolio which includes oil, gas, wind, solar and more,” Mr. Daines told The Washington Times.

The SMART Energy Act would require the Interior secretary to immediately hold at least four oil and gas leasing sales in the top seven energy-producing states. The bill, which was previewed exclusively by The Times, also requires the Interior Department to expand renewable energy leasing offshore in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The legislation faces daunting odds for advancing in the Democratic-run Congress that has made climate change a higher priority than energy production.

Upon taking office, Mr. Biden suspended all new oil and gas leases on public lands pending a review by environmental regulators. White House officials claim the moratorium is meant to be short-term, however, little has been done to resume oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

The White House did not immediately return requests for comment.

Mr. Daines said the administration’s position was only exacerbating the rising cost of energy prices across America.

“Biden’s war on Made in Montana and Made in America Energy is crushing U.S. energy independence, killing American jobs, and sending us headfirst into a European-style energy crisis with sky-high energy prices,” he said.

Energy prices have soared in the 11 months since Mr. Biden took office. Part of the reason is that the White House has killed several major energy projects, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The overall effect is that Americans are paying significantly more across the board for energy.

According to consumer groups, the price of gasoline-per-gallon is more than a dollar higher than it was in November 2020. Last week, the national average for a gallon of gasoline was priced at $3.41. The average price when Mr. Biden took office in January was $2.39 per gallon.

Likewise, the Energy Information Administration expects heating prices to significantly increase as winter temperatures arrive.

The EIA released a report earlier this month indicating consumers can expect a 54% increase in the cost of propane, while home heating oil will rise 43%. For consumers using natural gas to heat their homes, the cost is expected to rise 30%.

Correction: A prior version of this story inaccurately described Mr. Daines‘ proposal for bolstering renewable energy offshore. 

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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