- - Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The United States is facing an unprecedented energy emergency. Gas prices over the past twelve months have risen by almost fifty percent and now average $4 per gallon—with no significant relief in sight. Prior to this month, Russia accounted for eight percent of the United States’ gross petroleum imports, making it no surprise that President Biden’s ban on such imports has contributed to the sharp spike in domestic gas prices. On this issue, the President made the right decision, but now we must find a substitute in order to fill the energy supply gap. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to look far, he just has to let America drill.

A recent poll shows that even when experiencing higher energy costs, ninety percent of Americans support the ban on Russian oil. People understand that continuing to purchase Russian energy is to effectively fund their war machine against Ukraine. Now, with Europe joining the U.S. in boycotting Russian energy purchases, we are putting pressure on the most important segment of their economy. Since revenues from oil and gas sales make almost half of their federal budget, these actions will have a significant impact on the Russian government.

Of course, the supply gap caused by the decisions by leaders in Europe and Washington has impacts and a fix is needed.

Thankfully, the United States has the capacity to make sustainable investments in energy here at home. The U.S. has more untapped oil than any country on earth—about 264 billion barrels worth— that can be leveraged to put downward pressure on future prices in the future. It’s a reasonable approach towards becoming energy independent, and a majority of Americans recognize it’s time we utilize it.

To tap into American energy, President Biden should prioritize domestic development and pipeline projects. Our vast pipeline network connects oil patches with refiners and other manufacturers across the country, helping fuel the American economy. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation show pipelines are the safest way to transport energy.

With this information, President Biden should quickly reverse his decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Had the pipeline not suffered years of regulatory roadblocks—and an eventual shutdown—we could be safely importing up to 900,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Canadian oil sands. An amount that far exceeds the previous volumes of crude oil coming into the U.S. from Russia before President Biden’s ban.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—currently under ongoing scrutiny— is also critical for achieving energy independence and economic growth. This project creates jobs, provides wages to workers, connects communities, and pays millions of dollars in taxes. DAPL isn’t just safe—it’s extremely popular. A recent poll found those who support the pipeline outnumber those who don’t by a five to one margin. The project also has vigorous support among 83 percent of North Dakotans, who have seen the work up close.

Despite the White House’s claims of support for domestic energy production, the Biden administration’s policies make tapping into them extremely difficult. The administration reversed more than one hundred regulations designed to promote U.S. energy leadership and independence. Even with the recent announcement that the Department of Interior is resuming onshore oil and gas lease sales after a year-long pause, they significantly scaled it down and made the process more expensive. This adds yet another hurdle to production.

In this era of political polarization, energy independence is an issue that unites people on all sides. 86 percent of Americans agree that instead of turning to foreign sources, we should rely on the tremendous amount of energy we have at home. Everything we need is right beneath our feet—it’s time we tap into it.

• Craig Stevens, former senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now (GAIN).

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