Fifty years ago, the United States was embroiled in an energy crisis. Motorists sat in long gas lines, and President Jimmy Carter eventually encouraged them to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.
The crisis, sparked by the Arab oil embargo, revealed an unfortunate lesson: The U.S. relied far too heavily on foreign countries for its energy. We should have learned our lesson then.
Today, we’re witnessing a new energy crisis. War in Europe has brought instability to energy markets and to our world, at a time when supplies of oil and natural gas were already low due to increased demand during COVID-19. The result now is that people are paying more at the pump, paying more to heat their homes and businesses, and the world is less secure than it was just a few weeks ago.
But unlike in the 1970s, we now have the capacity to produce much more energy in this country and to become more energy secure and more energy independent. However, we are lacking the leadership in the White House and Congress to get it done.
Instead of attacking our oil and natural gas workers, President Joe Biden should be unleashing the ingenuity and prowess of this high-tech, vital industry, as I urged him to do this week in a letter to the White House .
White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently asserted that the U.S. needs to respond to this crisis by decreasing its dependence on fossil fuels and investing more in renewable energy. But that technology is decades away from being able to power the grid, much less fuel the nation’s vehicles. The White House’s pie-in-the-sky thinking will do little to help people who are struggling to get by today as they’re faced with higher inflation and higher costs for food and energy.
Also, a push for renewables will only increase our dependence on foreign supplies mined in other countries, including both China and Russia.
Psaki’s statement is also in direct opposition to the administration’s actions. Biden has actually asked OPEC to produce more oil to bring down prices for consumers — he just won’t let our domestic industry produce it at home.
The shale revolution has made the U.S. the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world. But for the last year, the Biden administration has made it increasingly difficult for our domestic companies to produce this vital resource. From the president’s short-sighted “ban fracking” chatter during his campaign to his ban on federal oil and gas lease sales on his first day in office to his upending of the Keystone XL pipeline, Biden has worked to create a hostile and unstable environment for the industry, which fosters both less outside financial investment and less production.
My home state of Colorado is one of the top oil and gas producing states in the country — fifth in crude oil production and seventh in natural gas production. My home county of Weld produces more than 90% of the state’s oil.
Colorado should be part of the solution. But for the past two years, the number of rigs operating across the state has remained stagnant, hampered by an overzealous and overreaching regulatory structure that also has injected uncertainty into the marketplace.
Under Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who signed into law a slew of job-killing regulations in 2019, oil production has dropped 30%.
We can and should be better than this. Developing our natural resources closer to home is good for jobs, good for our economy, good for national security, and even good for the environment.
With the environmental regulations and protections in place in Colorado and across much of the country, and given technological enhancements and developments in the industry, the men and women who work in American oil and gas are producing much cleaner energy than anything coming out of Saudi Arabia or Russia.
Now is the time to remember the lessons of our past, to embrace the technology and science that is leading to cleaner oil and gas development, to produce more of our resources here at home, to benefit American consumers, and to make the world safer.
Ken Buck represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.