America’s energy revolution was a game changer that turned us into the world’s pre-eminent energy power. Joe Biden is mounting a counter-revolution against it.
The president inherited an energy economy that was the envy of the world. He has spent the last 14 months working to dismantle that legacy. We are living with the consequences.
America’s energy revolution was an astonishing technical and entrepreneurial achievement. It made us energy independent for the first time since the early 1950s. It made energy more affordable, which made us more prosperous and more competitive. It also delivered geopolitical flexibility at a time when America was contending with several emerging threats that intersected with energy.
Driven by fracking, horizontal drilling, and advanced seismic imaging technologies, America’s crude oil and natural gas production shot up. From 2005 to 2019, oil and natural gas production jumped 116 and 89%, respectively. Over the same period, carbon emissions dove 19%.
That revolution came about because of a change of mindset toward policies that embraced energy abundance rather than energy scarcity.
Instead of welcoming America’s energy revolution, this president is mounting a methodical “whole of government” counter-revolution against it, all to achieve some completely unrealistic Green New Deal targets.
Practically every agency—from the Department of Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve—is being enlisted to starve fossil fuel companies of financing, deny them access to resources and infrastructure, tie them up in “green tape,” and tax them.
Personnel is policy, and Mr. Biden‘s picks for important positions in his administration are uniformly hostile to America’s energy revolution.
Attacking the fuels that provide four-fifths of the energy we use has had predictable—and dire—consequences for America’s families. This administration has wreaked havoc with America’s energy economy and added to inflationary pressures, especially hurting households with low or fixed incomes.
The administration has created enormous uncertainty that has contributed to the underinvestment in the oil and gas sector especially. Europe is giving us a preview of the energy fiasco that underinvesting in reliable and secure fossil fuels can create.
Democrats now see energy prices and inflation heading north and their poll numbers heading south. Desperate gimmicks like releasing more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or a gasoline tax holiday will not solve the fundamental problem: America’s energy crisis is a supply crisis. The solution is more American energy, but that is the one solution the administration will not allow.
At about 11.7 million barrels per day, U.S. crude oil output is running 1.3 million barrel per day below the pre-pandemic peak. In 2020, the Energy Information Administration forecast that producers were on course to hit 14 million barrels per day by 2022. We can realize that with the right policies.
It is not just fossil fuels. The Biden administration is so beholden to the environmental left that it is slow-walking or blocking permits for mines that would produce the minerals used in the energy technologies the president says he wants.
Wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries for electric vehicles use certain key minerals in much bigger quantities than the technologies they are meant to replace.
Existing supplies, however, are largely controlled by our adversaries. That has not stopped the administration from cancelling or delaying mining projects in places like Minnesota, Arizona, Alaska, and Nevada.
We should not have to rely on China and Russia for minerals we can mine here. We need to be energy self-sufficient. That’s true not just for oil, natural gas, and coal, but for the raw materials needed for nuclear, solar, wind, and batteries.
Biden‘s energy counter-revolution is counter-productive. What America needs is sensible policies that support more American energy and innovation.
The president has a stark choice. He can continue to throw away one of America’s biggest economic and geopolitical advantages. Or he can change course and unleash America’s entrepreneurs and workers to sustain America’s energy revolution.
Energy pre-eminence is central to realizing our economic and geopolitical interests. America is the world’s energy superpower. It is time we started acting like it again.
• Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He also serves in Senate Republican leadership as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. During his 24 years as an orthopedic surgeon, he served as President of the Wyoming Medical Society and was named Wyoming Physician of the Year.