Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter from state Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, to Gov. Andy Beshear.
October 18, 2022
The Honorable Andy Beshear
Governor of Kentucky
700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, KY 40601
Dear Governor Beshear:
As you are aware, the price of gasoline is on the rise again in our commonwealth, across America, and the globe because of OPEC’s decision to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. This action, along with global instability and our increasing dependence on foreign oil production, significantly harm Kentucky families struggling to put food on their table and gas in their tank.
Governor, make no mistake, I joined you in the sentiments you expressed on social media on September 17 when you publicly celebrated the price of gasoline dipping under $3 in Frankfort and a dip from the peak national average of over $5 in June.
Though I strongly disagree with President Joe Biden’s administration’s leadership—or lack thereof— on this issue, I even shared his sentiments and those of his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as they publicly heralded the slight decrease in costs. This was despite the fact that the average price of gasoline at the time of your and President Biden’s celebration was still significantly higher than the $2.33 national average in January 2021. There was cause for optimism that the people of Kentucky, and America, were finally seeing some financial relief at the pump.
Our allies in European nations such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany are facing an energy crisis the likes of which they have never experienced before because of their leaders’ careless dependency on Russian oil. The residents of those nations are suffering because of their elected leaders’ ignorance and arrogance, preventing energy independence.
As chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, I share my grave concerns that our nation is headed down a similarly dangerous path. I appeal to your better judgment as the leader of the state executive branch and ask you to join my General Assembly colleagues and I in demanding the federal government reverse course on the devastating green policies, which put Kentucky residents and U.S. citizens in a perilous position. These destructive policies are only emboldening and strengthening our foreign enemies.
There are several measures President Biden can take today to mitigate this disaster:
• Rescind executive orders strangling American oil production and lift federal lands and waters restrictions. I have attached a document citing specific regulations.
• Encourage Congress to authorize critical energy infrastructure projects to support production and processing.
• Embrace open capital markets where individual companies have access to markets free of artificial constraints of government-preferred investments.
• Enable all U.S. refineries to use the existing critical process technologies to produce fuels needed for global energy markets.
• Extend Section 45Q tax credits for carbon capture, utilization and storage development and create a new credit for hydrogen produced from all sources.
• Repair the broken National Environmental Policy Act process by creating uniformity in the review process and limit reviews to two years, reducing the bureaucratic burdens currently preventing America from delivering resources to allies abroad.
• Dismantle supply chain bottlenecks such as steel tariffs that still exist on imports from U.S. allies. Steel is an essential need in energy production.
Surely you must see the hypocrisy in the President’s inconsistency on oil production, stifling domestic production in appeasement of radical environmentalists while criticizing OPEC’s decision to cut production by 2 million barrels per day. The President cannot have his cake and eat it too.
To be plain-spoken, Governor, you and President Biden stand on the same policy platform. It is a platform I argue is responsible for the energy crisis and soaring inflation hurting our residents. As head of the commonwealth’s executive branch of government, you are responsible for standing up for those you represent, as the legislature does. I am troubled by your silence on this issue and the scripted rhetoric we too often hear from your podium. Your words require depth and meaning today. You must not deflect your responsibility by citing small actions that ring hollow to the men, women, and children who care not for political hyperbole but are focused on the necessities of modern life. Keep in mind I have brought these concerns to your attention in the past, including during a floor speech near the end of the 2022 Legislative Session, when I also voiced frustration with your administration’s blocking of coal, oil, and gas permits at a time when we could be providing these needed commodities to the market amid the sting of energy shortages.
While we cannot undo past damage immediately, a swift reversal of policy to allow domestic oil drilling will help mitigate long-term fuel costs while also bringing relief in other areas, like the cost of groceries. As you know, rising diesel prices not only impact the farming and trucking industries here in the Bluegrass state but their increasing costs are passed along to consumers when we go to the grocery store or gas station.
I request your correspondence on the bold and public measures you and your Energy and Environment Cabinet are taking to bring relief to Kentucky families and compel members of your political party to reverse course on Green New Deal-style policies.
Senator Brandon Smith
Chair, Senate Natural Resources and Energy
cc: Rebecca Goodman, Secretary
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet