GOP lawmakers have turned up the heat on the Biden administration, repeatedly slamming it for rising energy prices that consumers have experienced recently.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hosted roundtables in his office on both Tuesday and Wednesday where energy industry leaders, local officials and his fellow House Republicans sniped at Democrats, blaming them for increased costs hitting Americans. The officials also took aim at climate provisions included in the pending $3.5 trillion budget bill.
“There’s nothing that’s becoming more expensive than gasoline today,” McCarthy said on Wednesday. “And it doesn’t have to be the case. When gasoline becomes more expensive, the people that it truly hurts are those that are less fortunate, those that have less money. It literally takes food away from their children.”
“As we look to Thanksgiving coming up, it’s going to be the most expensive Thanksgiving in history for Americans,” he continued. “But the real challenge is happening here. It’s the policies of this new administration.”
Since July, energy prices have skyrocketed in the U.S. and abroad with both oil and natural gas hitting multi-year highs. Heating costs may even tick up as much as 54% for Americans this winter and could be even higher depending on how cold it gets, the EIA projected on Oct. 13.
Meanwhile, gasoline prices rose again Wednesday, reaching a national average of $3.39 per gallon, according to a AAA database, and soaring past $7.50 per gallon in some areas. The last time Americans paid more than $3.40 per gallon at the pump was in September 2014, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed.
“This administration is only six or eight months into their policies on energy right now,” Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves said. “This is what we’re seeing right now as a result of executive orders, as a result of policy decisions. With the reconciliation package, they are trying to come in and double and triple down on the strategies that have caused higher price.”
President Joe Biden has made solving climate change a top priority and, as a result, has aimed to curb the U.S. fossil fuel industry’s influence. But the White House has also turned to Middle Eastern and Russian producers of oil and natural gas for reprieve from surging energy costs.
The House Republicans who participated in McCarthy’s hearings this week further argued that energy has become a national security issue because of the American economy’s growing dependence on foreign powers.
“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, this is actually a national security issue at this point,” Oklahoma Rep. Stephanie Bice said on Wednesday.
She noted that besides growing reliance on foreign energy, cumbersome U.S. regulations on rare Earth mineral mining have hindered American companies and favored those abroad. Such metals are key for a range of technology including renewable energy products, CNBC reported.
In addition, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested that tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency 714 million barrel oil depot controlled by the U.S. government, was an option for reducing prices, the Financial Times reported on Oct. 6. Biden said the federal government could tap into the reserve during a town hall last week, but added that such a move would only decrease the price of gasoline by about $0.18 per gallon.
“The answer is very straightforward and it’s right under our feet,” Republican Whip Steve Scalise said Tuesday when asked about the Biden administration mulling potentially tapping into the emergency reserve. “There’s energy all throughout America, we saw with the shale revolution and with other advances in American technology.”
“Instead of trying to drain what’s left of our reserves, we ought to be producing more energy and creating more jobs here in America,” he continued.
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