On the campaign trail as he sought the presidency, Joe Biden promised in September 2019, “I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuel.”
Recent steps by the Biden Administration to expand the world’s supply of oil would appear to be a U-turn from this pledge. One might at first glance welcome this as good news. Unfortunately, President Biden’s newfound interest in fossil fuels focuses on foreign countries, even some hostile to the United States. Increased energy production in United States, which is cleaner, safer, and a job creator, still appears off the table.
The latest push by the Biden Administration to undo some of the damage its anti-domestic energy policies created focuses on Venezuela, a country ruled by the socialist anti-American dictator Nicolas Maduro. The Administration would offer relief from sanctions to allow Chevron to resume pumping oil in the country. It is telling that President Biden would do business with a tyrannical regime before North American producers.
Engagement with Venezuela occurs as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, dubbed OPEC+, plan to reduce oil production by two million barrels per day. The decision by OPEC+ follows a visit this summer by the President to Saudi Arabia, a leading country in this oil cartel, made in part to seek greater production. Apparently, he was unpersuasive.
While OPEC+ cuts oil production and negotiations with Venezuela continue, the Biden Administration has settled on yet another release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the national stockpile meant for emergencies. The White House labels its release of our oil reserves “historic,” and in a sense, they are right: the reserve is now at its lowest point since 1984.
There is a better path. In fact, one was unveiled in Virginia by Governor Youngkin at an event I attended on October 3.
The 2022 Virginia Energy Plan champions reliability, affordability, and innovation. Instead of setting arbitrary ideological deadlines to phase out fossil fuel use, it seeks an all-of-the-above approach. Among the cutting-edge technologies it includes to meet our energy needs are small modular nuclear reactors, one of which is slated for Southwest Virginia. Governor Youngkin’s plan looks forward.
Sensibly, the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan calls for the Commonwealth to be unchained from California’s automobile standards.
California bureaucrats have announced that they will outlaw the sale of non-electric cars in 2035. This decision is just the latest imprudent choice by California’s leaders, who recently had to urge electric vehicle owners not to charge them at certain times to avoid overtaxing the electric grid. Nevertheless, they made the decision, and Virginia will have to follow if a law passed by the previous Democrat-controlled General Assembly and signed by the previous Democrat Governor is not repealed.
At the federal level, I sent a letter along with more than 150 other Members of Congress to the Biden Administration urging it not to grant a waiver to California from automobile standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The waiver would let California pursue its draconian ban on gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, and Virginians and many other Americans would be dragged under this edict.
Keep in mind that in addition to their cost (which most Southwest Virginians cannot afford) and their impact on the electric grid, concerns I have raised repeatedly, electric vehicles fall short of reliability and safety standards as well. Florida officials in the wake of Hurricane Ian warned that the batteries of these vehicles can corrode when they are waterlogged, resulting in fires.
California still chooses to go all in on electric vehicles before the myriad problems facing them are resolved. The rest of the country should not have to follow the state’s decision to defy reality.
President Ronald Reagan was a Californian who possessed a trait sorely lacking among the state’s leadership today: common sense. He noted, “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers.”
A simple answer to the energy crisis afflicting our country is encouraging all-of-the-above energy policies and increasing all domestic production, including fossil fuels. Rather than pleading with dictators, President Biden could make his life and ours much simpler by recognizing this fact.
- Congressman H. Morgan Griffith