White House Misdirection on Energy

White House Misdirection on Energy 2Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine calls for the United States to respond with the diplomatic and economic tools we have in our hands. One that the Biden Administration has been reluctant to use has been American energy.

As I noted in my last column, the United States imported 200,000 barrels of crude oil and 500,000 barrels of other petroleum products per day from Russia in 2021, purchases that funded Vladimir Putin’s regime. Our country’s leadership in energy production, however, should allow us to stop importing Russian energy and export our energy to other countries.

Since I wrote that column, President Biden moved to ban Russian energy imports. It was a welcome step, but the hesitation in taking it and the subsequent efforts by the White House to stop stronger measures indicates that the Administration still does not grasp the power and potential of domestic energy production.

President Biden issued the ban on March 8. He did so as negotiators on Capitol Hill worked on legislation not only to ban energy imports but also to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and its ally Belarus. The congressional action under discussion would have been stronger than the President’s, so his Administration followed up its ban by pressuring Congress not to go any further.

The bill that came to the floor could have been much stronger. I voted for it only after Democrats blocked a better bill offered by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) that would have further restricted Russian trade and opened up American energy production.

In a sign of the muddled direction of this Administration, just a few days after blocking a bill that would have stripped Russia of normal trade status, President Biden called for Congress to send him a bill that does so.

The White House has seized on the import ban as a convenient way to explain high gas prices and push its underlying domestic agenda.

A reporter asked President Biden on March 8 about gas prices, “What can you do about it?” He responded, “Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible.”

Anyone who has filled a gas tank since January 20, 2021, when the President was inaugurated, recognizes his statement as disingenuous.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national retail gas price for the week of President Biden’s inauguration was $2.48 per gallon. Before Putin invaded Ukraine, it had soared to $3.62 per gallon – an increase of more than a dollar.

Russia was not responsible for depressing American energy production. Vladimir Putin has committed many wrongs, but he did not cancel the Keystone XL pipeline or issue a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Those wounds were self-inflicted thanks to the Biden Administration.

The only other response the Administration has besides deflecting blame is urging Americans to buy electric vehicles. Such a suggestion probably leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Americans when they consider that the average transaction price for an electric vehicle is $62,876, according to a Wall Street Journal article that cites recent Kelley Blue Book data.

If buying a used electric vehicle, a buyer has to look at how much the battery has diminished and whether it will need a new battery pack or modules, which can cost over $10,000.

Price aside, plenty of other factors limit electric vehicles as a solution to the present energy crisis. I brought up one of them at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing; following the White House’s lead, House Democrats chose to discuss electric vehicles rather than urgent problems and realistic solutions.

The issue I raised at the hearing was the range of electric vehicles. During good weather, I could not drive an electric vehicle from one end of the Ninth Congressional District to another without recharging. Axios reported that cold weather diminishes their range even more. In Norway, electric vehicles lose about 20% of their driving range and take longer to charge, and AAA found that the loss in range when the car’s heater is on at full blast could be as high as 41%.

Taking these facts with others I have previously noted, such as cost, the insufficiency of current charging stations, and the inadequacy of today’s electric grid to support new electric vehicle infrastructure, electric vehicles are clearly inadequate for addressing our near-term energy challenges.

The solution remains obvious to everyone but the White House and congressional Democrats: more domestic energy production.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.