(Casey Harper, The Center Square) Senate Republicans blasted the Biden administration’s energy policies Tuesday and pointed to House legislation that could, among other things, reform the permitting process to allow for more oil and gas drilling.
Gas prices rose to record highs last summer, surpassing $5 per gallon of regular gas. Those prices dropped but are expected to rise again this year. President Joe Biden has prioritized renewable energy sources, discouraging or sometimes outright blocking either pipeline development or new drilling.
“This administration has become so beholden to the far left, all these Green New Deal climate ideologists and extremists,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said during the a news conference Tuesday with her colleagues.
“And what they are so fixated on in this administration is making sure that everybody is driving an electrical vehicle,” she added. “Think about it. Where do the batteries for those electric vehicles come from? They come from China. So what the administration is saying is we should be more reliant on China and the batteries that require child and slave labor to produce instead of looking inward at the abundant resources that we have domestically, he continues to look outward and rely on our adversaries.”
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said energy prices have risen roughly 40% since Biden took office and pointed to permitting reform as a key Republican solution.
“We’re looking at ways to put time limits on bureaucratic foot-dragging that slows down projects and dangerous and damaging and dilatory lawsuits to make it harder to get projects built,” he said. “That’s our focus.”
U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Senate Republicans will be working this week to overturn multiple Energy Department regulations, in particular the Waters of the U.S. rule that gives the federal government broad authority over local waters, even small ponds.
“We view energy security to be synonymous with national security,” he said. “And while the Senate is unlikely to take up whatever the House ends up passing, we believe it is an issue that should be debated in the United States Senate, which is why we continue to raise a lot of these issues through the use of the Congressional Review Act Resolutions of Disapproval.”
Biden and other Democrats have pointed to climate concerns while Republicans have focused on the higher energy costs for Americans.
Critics also point out that while the U.S. reins in fossil fuel use, other nations are not. For example, developing nations are showing little signs of holding off their energy growth and China, one of the biggest environmental offenders, builds two coal plants a week
“Joe Biden has surrendered to climate hysteria,” Barrasso said. “And in surrendering, he has hurt the American people in terms of their finances as well as their freedom. This is a betrayal of the American people.”
This is not the only criticism the Energy Department has received recently. As The Center Square previously reported, a watchdog report of the agency found “risks of insufficient federal staffing, potential conflicts of interest, recipient fraud, and inadequate internal controls, among others” that led to this waste in the Inflation Reduction Act and other recent spending bills.
House Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., and subcommittee chair Pat Fallon, R-Texas, announced an investigation into the Energy Department, sending a letter to Secretary Jennifer Granholm calling for answers.
“According to a DOE Office of Inspector General (OIG) report detailing DOE’s management challenges for Fiscal Year 2023, the Department’s budget ‘will grow from managing a $45.3 billion budget in fiscal year 2022 to $100 billion of appropriated funds and $336 billion in loan authorities’ in fiscal year 2023,” the letter said. “The OIG states, ‘[t]hese are historic and unprecedented times at the Department of Energy’ and warns about ‘a greatly increased risk of fraud, waste, and mismanagement.’”