Liberal Legislators Kick the Dog

Last week 41 of the biggest energy-haters in Congress sent a letter to Richard Glick, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, caterwauling about high energy prices. Like the gassy wheezer who fouls the living-room air and then kicks the dog to shift the blame, this cabal of pipeline blockers and permit-revokers tries to shift the blame from their own kill-oil and kill-gas policies. Instead, they point their fingers at the companies that actually produce the oil, and gas. Bad dog!

Like so many in DC, the signers of the letter show they have no grasp of basic principles taught in Econ 101. For instance, demand curves slope down. When supply is restricted by government action, the cost will go up. This cannot be fixed by anti-trust action or even price controls. It is fixed by un-restricting supply so that producers can drill, produce, and transport more energy. But, more oil and gas are an anathema to this group, even as they claim, oblivious to the irony, that some new-found greed on the part of oil and gas companies is the cause of the undersupply.

The letter does acknowledge two things that this group often ignores, higher energy prices are most painful for the disadvantaged and that we have been warned about it.

“In October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted that some households’ winter heating bills may rise by as much as 39 percent, compared to last year—a spike that will most affect those with the fewest resources. Nationally, low-income households face energy burdens that are three times higher on average than other households. This is also a racial justice issue, with Black and Hispanic households having a median energy burden that is 43 percent and 20 percent higher than non-Hispanic white households, respectively. The loss of utility service due to high energy burdens is one of the primary reasons for homelessness, especially for families with children.”

The American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research have long warned about high energy prices’ devasting impact on the poor. These impacts are not mitigated by magical promises of an imminent cornucopia of cheap renewables.

The promise of cheap renewables has gone on for decades and decades. The promised land is always around the corner, but we never seem to get there. On the other hand, policies to cut oil and gas production are served up pronto.

Though there was a respite during the Trump administration, the anti-oil and anti-gas policies go back to at least the Obama administration, with its revocation of drilling permits and reduction of access to the federal estate’s enormous energy assets along with adding costly regulations on energy production. 

President Biden couldn’t wait one day to restart the war against affordable energy. On Inauguration Day, he signed an order blocking a pipeline that would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil to American refineries. That day he instantly destroyed thousands of jobs with the stroke of a pen. 

In further action, President Biden canceled oil leasing in Alaska and suspended oil leases on federal land, even after a court ruled the moratorium illegal. None of the signers of last week’s letter complained.

Though he killed the nearly completed pipeline that would bring oil from one of our most steadfast and loyal allies, Canada, of late the president has been begging OPEC to produce more oil. Less oil from our own reserves, less oil from our most trusted allies, but more dependence on oil from the most unstable part of the world is a disastrous policy.

Even more disastrous is the policy of getting rid of the reliable, affordable energy we already have while heaping unconscionable amounts of debt-finance subsidies on wind, solar, and other undependable, unaffordable energy sources, as the Build Back Better plan does. We don’t need to speculate on how this will turn out. We don’t need to see any studies. Europe has done the experiment for us and it’s a catastrophe. Energy prices are skyrocketing, manufacturers are closing down or leaving, and high utility bills threaten to leave people in the cold this winter.

This is the future we would get with the Build Back Better bill these letter-signers support, but they don’t have the honesty to own up to it. Blame somebody else is their pathetic response. 

David Kreutzer is a senior economist at the Institute for Energy Research. A native of Fairfax County, Virginia, Kreutzer earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and received the first Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He taught economics for 23 years at James Madison University and for three years before that at Ohio University. He has published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Political Economy, Climate Change Economics, The National Tax Journal, Economic Inquiry, and Applied Economics. More of his works can be found here.

Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.