Rep. Buck: Poor policy driving high gas price

Co-sponsors resolution calling for return to drilling, exploration, energy independence

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Windsor, need not look further than his neighbor to understand the detriments that have been caused by energy policy in Colorado and Washington, D.C., he says.

His neighbor was previously employed by an oil exploration company in the Denver-Julesburg field.

“He was laid off as a result of Colorado’s policy,” Buck said. “Now, he travels to North Dakota for two weeks at a time, while his family continues to live in Weld County. This is a very difficult situation caused by the State of Colorado.”

Buck is a co-sponsor of a resolution in the U.S. House that would call for support of “safe and responsible development of energy resources” through drilling, an effort, the resolution reads, to restore a robust energy supply chain.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline Friday in Morgan and Weld counties was $4.04 – among the lowest pricing in the state – while it was priced at $4.20 in neighboring Logan County and residents in Sedgwick County were paying $4.41. Diesel in Weld County is selling for $5.31 per gallon, an increase of 46 cents in a month.

“We don’t know what the pricing would have done without the release of reserves into the market,” Buck said.

America’s strategic petroleum reserves were at capacity under President Donald Trump, and now have been depleted to a 20-year low.

“The king of Saudi Arabia will not return the President’s phone calls. They will not increase production,” Buck said. “We have the solution to drill and produce more here.”

He blames the price being paid at the pump on Democrat policies both in Colorado and Washington, D.C.

“They have attempted to shutdown oil and gas as a way to promote green energy,” Buck said. “It is a dangerous situation for America and the world. Bad actors are producing oil and gas – Russia, Venezuela and Iran, in particular.”

President Joe Biden’s Administration has taken steps, through executive action as well as in rhetoric, to limit American drillers’ ability to develop the strategic oil and natural gas resources of the United States, the resolution reads.

“This is a crisis of the Biden Administration’s own doing,” Buck said.

The withdrawal of crude oil April 29 from strategic reserves lowered America’s holdings to 550 million barrels, the lowest level since August 2002, the resolution reads. Meanwhile, the average price paid for a gallon of gasoline in Colorado has risen by $1.06 in a year.

An average of 30 drilling permits were being granted monthly when then Gov. John Hickenlooper left office, Buck says, and an immediate decrease was realized under Gov. Jared Polis. One policy in Colorado limiting new exploration is expanded setbacks, which Colorado’s Oil & Gas Commission put in place under Polis after voters opposed such a policy.

According to Baker Hughes, a company which performs a weekly rig count, Colorado only has six rigs in operation. In 2020, the United States supplied 15% percent of the world’s oil, more than Russia, Saudi Arabia or any other country. In November 2018, there were 887 rigs in operation in America, according to Baker Hughes, compared to 563 in operation today. There were 676 rigs in operation nationally when Trump left office and within five months rigs in operation had dipped below 200.

Each oil and natural gas drilling rig in the United States can produce more than one million barrels of oil and 5 billion to 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas in the first year, the resolution reads.

But, less production means greater reliance on oil abroad and higher prices at the pump, leading to increased pricing on everyday products, Buck said.

“The cause of the high diesel price is the same as gasoline,” he said. “When the cost of transportation costs more, that has to be offset by pricing you find on food at the store. The higher price of diesel also puts the squeeze on [truck] owner-operators locked in a contract. Their costs have gone up dramatically.”