Opinion-Editorial by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
Any Kentuckian who has been to a gas station or paid their utility bill recently knows that energy prices are soaring. Now, President Biden and his congressional allies plan to raise them even higher, hurting families and helping China.
In Congress, liberals are pushing far-left environmental legislation that poses a grave threat to our Commonwealth. Kentucky is a fossil fuel producing and reliant state. When Washington Democrats launch a war on the energy industry, we feel the pinch first, and we feel it especially hard.
Already, the average gas price in the Commonwealth is over $3 a gallon, rising as fast as fifteen cents a week recently. Kentuckians are paying a dollar more per gallon than this time last year. Even worse, some analysts fear the cost of a barrel of oil could rise to $200 soon – more than double the current price. In a state like Kentucky, where an estimated 93% of our labor force drives to work, that type of increase would be catastrophic.
Home heating bills are going up as well. Natural gas is more than 100% more expensive than it was last year. Our friends in Europe are already preparing for life-threatening winter shortages. As we approach the colder months, shortages may be heading for Kentucky as well – just in time for Christmas.
With our country facing energy crises on multiple fronts, one might expect President Biden and congressional Democrats to abandon their plans to kill American energy production. Instead, they’ve doubled down.
President Biden set the tone for his anti-energy administration early on when he vowed to stop all oil and gas leasing on federal lands and shut down the Keystone XL pipeline, ending a project that would have provided reliable, North American-produced energy to families nationwide. Now, he is working with his congressional allies to craft some of the most radical climate legislation ever. Through their repackaged version of the Green New Deal, Democrats promise to make it harder for American families to pay their bills while forfeiting a critical economic advantage to China.
President Biden’s plan is riddled with policies that take direct aim at American energy producers. He’s proposing a new natural gas tax and calling it a “methane fee.” What better time to tax U.S. natural gas production than when prices are skyrocketing just as we head into winter? Liberal logic boggles the mind.
He wants to slap new fees on the fossil fuel leaseholders operating on federal lands and waters that produce nearly 10% of American oil and gas, doubling down on his earlier moratorium on new drilling in government-owned areas. It makes no sense to try and crush domestic production, killing jobs and raising prices, while simultaneously begging OPEC and Russia to produce more oil. But this is exactly what the Biden Administration is doing.
President Biden plans to punish businesses that don’t march in lockstep with his green energy priorities. He would enact harsh penalties against electricity producers that refuse to fully convert to his preferred forms of power generation. In Kentucky, where the vast majority of our electric grid is powered by coal and natural gas, this directly translates to higher electric bills for working families.
When Kentuckians sit around the kitchen table at the end of this month, figuring out how to pay their ever-increasing utility and gas bills, they now have to worry that more Democrat-driven price increases are on the horizon. I’ve heard from citizens all over our state who are outraged at what President Biden plans to do.
One family in Benton told me they “don’t know if [they] can continue to survive these high energy prices” if increases continue. Another constituent in Ashland worries we are heading for a “man-made crisis of our own making,” because “America cannot afford the Democrats’ green energy policies.” They are right.
President Biden should focus on the crises he’s already caused before he starts creating new ones. Beyond spiking energy prices, Kentuckians are facing an acute labor shortage, raging inflation, and a stumbling economic recovery because of this administration’s policies. It’s time for Washington Democrats to drop their big government, socialist schemes and start addressing the issues actually affecting Middle America.
I’ve been proud to stand as a firewall for Kentuckians, defending our interests against Democratic leaders who overwhelmingly hail from out-of-touch, coastal liberal enclaves. I look forward to leading Republican opposition to President Biden’s radical energy policies, ensuring they receive no conservative support in the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is the Senate Republican Leader.