Have you filled up your car or truck recently? With gas reaching nearly $4 per gallon, 50% more than last year, paying for a full tank is getting downright painful. Across the board, Montanans are getting hit hard by skyrocketing energy costs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only made matters worse for the global energy market.
Government Excess Blocks Energy Production
"Prioritizing energy production at home will require a change from politicians and groups who historically have been dedicated to growing the size and scope of the government."
In a rare display of bipartisan unity, Montana’s entire federal delegation to Congress, along with Gov. Greg Gianforte, each recently called on President Biden to act quickly to expand domestic energy production.
Unleashing all types of American energy production to help reduce costs and preserve our country’s independence seems like a no-brainer. But prioritizing energy production at home will require a change from politicians and groups who historically have been dedicated to growing the size and scope of the government.
Since being elected, Biden has opened the floodgates on new regulations, repealing Trump-era orders for federal agencies to limit the growth of red tape. The results are what you would expect. Federal rule notices indicate new regulations added by the Biden Administration have stuck American businesses with an additional 133 million hours of bureaucratic paperwork to deal with annually and imposed $190 billion in new regulatory costs on our economy.
This sizable growth of federal government bureaucracy comes at direct cost to the American economy, especially our ability to produce energy. For example, new guidance issued last month by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will require “environmental justice” be taken into account when permitting new natural gas projects, a move certain to delay such proposals. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said the new regulations would surely create “additional road blocks that further delay building out the energy infrastructure.”
Politicians have also wielded the federal government’s immense power to block domestic energy production directly. Probably the most stark example of this was Biden’s decision to terminate the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, a project that would have shipped nearly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta through Montana to the Texas Gulf Coast and created hundreds of Montana jobs along the way.
We’ve heard some environmental activists contend that fossil fuel companies have ample opportunity to produce more energy, they simply aren’t taking action. But these claims ring hollow as those same activists consistently weaponize the judiciary to block energy production. This month we heard environmentalist groups cheer as a federal judge axed hundreds of oil and gas leases, many in Montana, because of their lawsuit asserting the Bureau of Land Management didn’t do enough to prioritize sage grouse habitat.
Some recent columnists have also suggested we should be prioritizing green energy production rather than fossil fuels. Even in this area, government constantly gets in the way. Despite innovations in nuclear and geothermal energy which provide an opportunity to scale up clean, green baseload power generation, the onerous federal permitting process remains the biggest obstacle for bringing these energy projects to the market. Even wind and solar projects have proven they aren’t immune to the years-long slog of environmental red tape or the threat of opposition from litigious environmental groups.
Montanans know better than other states about the abundant resources our land has to offer. We are nicknamed the Treasure State after all. Failure to fully use the treasure of our energy resources costs us dearly. Unleashing American energy production will require a renewed commitment to downsizing the federal government.
This article was originally published in lee newspapers.