- - Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Before President Biden took office, America was the largest energy producer in the world, and oil and gas — the raw materials for vital farm inputs from diesel fuel to fertilizer production — were abundant and affordable. In the first week of the Biden administration, the president enacted two executive orders that stifled the development and expansion of American energy resources. These executive orders halted new oil and gas leases on federal lands and offshore waters and revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

By tightening methane standards and proposing to increase climate disclosure requirements, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission have knee-capped innovation in the oil and gas sector on the regulatory front as well. In other words, the Biden administration — in just over two years — has effectively waged a war on our domestic energy capabilities, having all but eliminated the financial incentive for domestic energy producers to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure. As a result, U.S. consumers are seeing increased demand and higher prices for conventional liquid fuels and their byproducts.

For example, the average cost of diesel fuel per gallon in 2020 was $2.551. In 2022, the cost of diesel rose by 95% to $4.989 a gallon, reaching a record high of $5.816 by the summer. In addition, fertilizer prices increased 125% from January 2021 to January 2022 and continued to break records through 2022, which largely affected farm profitability, food prices, and the costs of consumer products.

As chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and proud representative of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, I am no stranger to the challenges facing the U.S. energy industry and their direct impact on farming communities. In fact, the commonwealth showcases the nexus between energy and agriculture production each and every day. Pennsylvania is home to the Marcellus Shale and America’s first commercial oil well — both responsibly developed resources that provided energy affordability to generations of Americans and transformed the U.S. into a global economic powerhouse — and our state’s largest industry is agriculture. The viability of our agricultural sector, as in any other region of the country, is reliant upon access to abundant and affordable energy resources.

By gambling away domestic oil and gas production in the name of climate change, the Biden administration has harmed the very industry— U.S. agriculture — that contributes to 13% of our annual greenhouse gas sequestration. The hardworking men and women who feed and fuel our nation and the world are, in reality, climate heroes. Even still, the administration has continued to take irrational regulatory and policy actions that foster uncertainty and limit our ability to meet the food, fiber and energy demands of our nation and the world.

This is why House Republicans, through our Commitment to America, remain steadfast in our promises to make gas, groceries, and other necessities affordable for working families. Under Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s leadership, House Republicans have introduced HR 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which aims to provide a reprieve for America’s families, including our farmers, ranchers and foresters, who have struggled with fractured supply chains, skyrocketing input costs and historic levels of inflation, all of which were exacerbated by excessive spending and regulatory overreach from Washington.

The bill will increase domestic energy affordability by resuming responsible development of our domestic energy resources, and it reverses anti-energy policies advanced by the administration, including the rescission of the $27 billion EPA slush fund for green-related projects. This legislation reforms our broken permitting process to ensure America can build the infrastructure necessary to support robust commerce and transport of goods. The bill also reforms our federal environmental review process to develop America’s vast critical mineral resource potential, ensuring we are less reliant on foreign countries for inputs that are essential to agriculture and so many other U.S. industries.

Given the right tools and regulatory certainty, American agriculture can serve a vital role in alleviating global food instability and mitigating costs for consumers. The Lower Energy Costs Act provides this certainty and will deliver long-lasting relief for nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.

As I’ve always said, food security is national security. We need dependable local power generation, adequate infrastructure, a strong workforce, and lower energy costs for farm operations to remain viable. It’s time we return to embracing American energy, not abandoning it, and in doing so, enable America’s agriculture sector to thrive. House Republicans made a commitment to an economy that is strong. Through the Lower Energy Costs Act, we are upholding that promise.

• Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, Pennsylvania Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

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