Dems Vote To Support Biden Energy Policies Making For ‘A Cruel Summer At The Gas Pump’

Every Single Senate Democrat Voted To Support President Biden’s Moratorium On New Oil And Gas Exploration On Federal Lands As Gas Prices Have Shot Up Over A Dollar In The Last Year

All 50 Senate Democrats voted against Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ (R-WY) amendment, which would have reversed the Biden administration’s moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on public lands. (S.Amdt.3104, S.Con.Res.14, Roll Call Vote #320: Rejected 49-50: D 0-48; R 49-0; I 0-2; 8/10/2021)

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Our new Administration is failing that test on domestic energy. China, Russia, and our other competitors must be thrilled that our new government is essentially declaring war on some of our own economic foundations to satisfy a craving for symbolic gestures. Willfully throwing our own people out of work… reducing our domestic energy security… raising costs and prices for working families…  All for no meaningful impact on global temperatures. Just to buy applause at those international conferences where the participants all assemble by private jet. … This President was not elected to enact policies that prompt a certain young Congresswoman from New York City to boast online that her radical ideas are shaping his energy policies. The last four years proved that growing our prosperity, reducing emissions, and expanding domestic energy are not in tension. We can achieve all three. There’s nothing green about a tsunami of pink slips for American workers, or carting Canadian crude around in trucks and trains instead of a pipeline.  This piecemeal Green New Deal is the wrong prescription -- for the environment… for national security… and most of all for all the working Americans who will soon be formerly-working Americans if this keeps up.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/28/2021)

SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-WY): “Since 2019, America has been energy independent. We have covered our own needs for energy with our own production, and we can now export our cleaner energy to other nations. As America’s biggest net energy supplier, Wyoming has been at the forefront of this energy revolution. Unfortunately, Democrats and the Biden administration would rather tether our energy future to Russia and OPEC than let us develop our own energy. Their green dream is a real nightmare for Americans, from the oil well to the gas pump. At the same time, this green obsession is actually causing more pollution by bolstering foreign energy produced under lax environmental regulations. This administration’s policies are actually doing more harm to our planet, and Americans are paying the price every day.” (Sen. Lummis, Press Release, 8/10/2021)


‘It’s A Cruel Summer At The Gas Pump’ As Prices Hit ‘The Most Expensive Gas Price Average Of The Year,’ Over A Dollar Per Gallon Higher Than This Time Last Year

AAA: “[G]as prices are still positioned to remain high in August. Today’s national average is $3.19. That is the most expensive gas price average of the year as well as $1.02 more than a year ago, a nickel more than a month ago and two cents more than a week ago.” ("Crude Prices Fluctuate, but Remain High Amid Growing Global COVID Concerns,” AAA Gas Prices, 8/09/2021)

PENNSYLVANIA: “‘What bothers me the most right now is gas. When you're retired and you're on a fixed income, it affects you a little bit more than somebody that's working,’ said Elmo Frey Jr., a retired judge, who was sipping coffee at the Nazareth Diner.  Frey says he drives a lot, and lately, he's spending more money filling up his car. ‘It was $1.89 when Trump left. Now, I just got gas yesterday, it was $3.29,’ he said.” (“Inflation Is A Big Political Test For President Biden's Economic Agenda,” NPR, 8/05/2021)

NEVADA: “Deangeles Phipps stopped at the Shell station on Blue Diamond Road, where a gallon of regular gasoline was going for $4.07, midday Wednesday to top off his tank. With gas prices in Nevada hovering around $4 a gallon, Phipps said he spends about $85 to fill up his SUV these days. That’s led the Las Vegas resident to cut back on driving a bit in recent months. Still, Phipps notes, sometimes he just doesn’t have a choice. ‘Gas prices (have) been really high for a while,’ he said. ‘But it seems like they’ve been fluctuating a lot higher than usual recently.’ According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Nevada crept up over $4 per gallon, for an average of $4.02 statewide. That’s the highest the state has seen since 2014, a spike in prices that have been on the upswing for months. Drivers are spending about 26 cents per gallon more than a month ago and nearly $1.50 per gallon more than a year ago, when the state was in lockdown …” (“Nevada Gas Prices Now 3rd Highest In US,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/04/2021)

MICHIGAN: “Michigan gas prices just hit a new high for the year of $3.31 a gallon … That's nearly $50 for a 15-gallon tank of gasoline. Monday's gas price was still, however, 10 cents more than a week ago, 11 cents more than this time last month and $1.10 more than this time last year during the pandemic. Not only is the demand very robust for peak driving season, AAA reported, but it is 2% higher than the same time period in 2019, before the pandemic. At the same time, high crude oil prices are helped to increase pump prices even more.” (“Michigan Gas Prices Creep To New High As Supply Tightens, Demand Increases,” Detroit Free Press, 8/09/2021)

IDAHO: “After ticking up about twenty cents per gallon in the last two weeks, gas prices in the Wood River Valley have now surpassed the $4 mark. That’s about $1 more than drivers in Ketchum and Hailey paid for regular gas in March. The local increases at the pump have mirrored a statewide trend, according to the American Automobile Association. Regular gas in Idaho averaged $3.79 on Wednesday, up from the $3.50 mark in mid-July. ‘It’s a cruel, cruel summer,’ AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde said on Monday.” (“Gas Prices Eclipse $4 In The Wood River Valley,” Idaho Mountain Express, 8/06/2021)

‘Rising Gas Prices Will Hurt Low-Income Families The Most’

MARK WOLFE, economist specializing in income inequality and director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association: “According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), gasoline prices are now at their highest level since 2014. Since January of this year alone, they have increased from $2.33 a gallon to $3.23 a gallon. And all signs point to higher prices to come.” (Mark Wolfe, Op-Ed, “Rising Gas Prices Will Hurt Low-Income Families The Most. The Government Needs To Help,” CNN Business, 7/13/2021)


During His First Week In Office, President Biden Issued A Moratorium On Oil And Natural Gas Exploration On Federal Lands

“The Biden administration announced Thursday a … suspension of new oil and gas leasing and drilling permits for U.S. lands and waters, as officials moved quickly to reverse Trump administration policies on energy and the environment. The suspension, part of a broad review of programs at the Department of Interior, went into effect immediately under an order signed Wednesday by [the] Acting Interior Secretary … It follows Democratic President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to halt new drilling on federal lands and end the leasing of publicly owned energy reserves as part of his plan to address climate change.” (“Biden Halts Oil And Gas Leases, Permits On US Land And Water,” The Associated Press, 1/21/2021)

“Mr. Biden [also] revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and moved to stop oil companies from drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” (“Biden’s Climate-Change Policy Targets Oil Industry,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021)

  • “Keystone XL’s developers laid off 1,000 workers immediately upon Mr. Biden’s move last week, and tens of thousands more could follow if oil companies can’t keep drilling on federal territory. Industry leaders also say the moves endanger progress on emissions, which have fallen dramatically in the U.S. in recent years in part from a drilling boom that allowed power producers to burn more gas instead of coal.” (“Biden’s Climate-Change Policy Targets Oil Industry,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021)

Biden’s Moratorium ‘Would Heavily Impact Energy Producing States Such As New Mexico And Wyoming’

“[T]he federal government owns large swaths of land companies use for oil-and-gas drilling. Such a policy would heavily impact energy producing states such as New Mexico and Wyoming, which together have almost 53.8 million acres of federal land, according to the Congressional Research Service. U.S. oil production on federal lands grew to 954.3 million barrels in fiscal 2019, up 28% from fiscal 2016, Interior Department data showed. Drilling on federal land and water generated almost $6 billion in government revenue last year.” (“Biden’s Order to Freeze New Oil Drilling on Federal Land: What You Need to Know,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/27/2021)

‘The Oil Industry Is Emerging As A Primary Target Of President Biden’s Climate Policy’

“The oil industry is emerging as a primary target of President Biden’s climate policy, setting the stage for a confrontation that could shape the future of the energy sector. The president is [issued] an executive order Wednesday that would suspend new oil and gas leasing on federal land … in what is widely seen as a first step toward fulfilling Mr. Biden’s campaign pledge to stop drilling on federal lands and offshore. Drilling on federal lands accounts for roughly 9% of U.S. onshore production, but oil industry leaders see a curtailment on future development as a significant threat….” (“Biden’s Climate-Change Policy Targets Oil Industry,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021)


‘Any Doubt That The Biden Administration Plans To Slowly Regulate Fossil Fuels Out Of Existence Vanished’

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “Any doubt that the Biden Administration plans to slowly regulate fossil fuels out of existence vanished [in January]. First came the Keystone XL pipeline kill, but perhaps more significant is the 60-day freeze on new leases on federal lands and bureaucratic permitting. The pause could soon become a long-term ban. Federal lands account for about 22% of U.S. oil production, 12% of natural gas and 40% of coal. When the Obama Administration slowed oil and gas permitting on federal land, drilling and exploration shifted to private land. The Biden Administration may shut that down too.” (Editorial, “Biden’s Fossil-Fuel Freeze,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/2021)

  • “[S]hale fracking occurs in large part on federal land in western states, and it continually requires new leases and investment. Federal land accounts for 51.9% of New Mexico’s oil production and 66.8% of its natural gas, as well as a sizable share of gas extraction in Colorado (41.6%), Utah (63.2%) and Wyoming (92.1%). A federal leasing ban would cost some 18,000 jobs in Colorado, 33,000 in Wyoming and 62,000 in New Mexico by 2022, according to the American Petroleum Institute. States would also lose hundreds of millions of dollars of mineral royalties that are shared by the feds. Oil and gas revenue accounts for 20% of New Mexico’s budget. Downstream suppliers like fracking sand mines in Wisconsin and steel manufacturers in Pennsylvania would also be hit.” (Editorial, “Biden’s Fossil-Fuel Freeze,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/2021)


On His First Day In Office, President Biden Cancelled The Keystone XL Pipeline, Making It More Difficult And More Expensive To Get Oil To Refineries

“The Canadian pipeline company that had long sought to build the Keystone XL pipeline announced [in June] that it had terminated the embattled project, which would have carried petroleum from Canadian tar sands to Nebraska. The announcement was the death knell for a project that had been on life support since President Biden’s first day in office and had been stalled by legal battles for years before that, despite support from the Trump administration.” (“The Keystone XL Pipeline Project Has Been Terminated,” The New York Times, 6/09/2021)

“President Joe Biden formally announced on [January 20th] he was revoking a key permit for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the second time a Democratic administration has scuttled the $8 billion project in less than a decade. Biden’s action was part of a series of executive orders on his first day in office …” (“Biden Kills Keystone XL Permit, Again,” Politico, 1/20/2021)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “President Biden issued a blizzard of executive orders on his first day in office, including a diktat to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This is a slap at Canada, and it sends a message to investors that playing by U.S. rules provides no immunity from arbitrary political whim. … Killing Keystone won’t keep fossil fuels in the ground. It will merely strand billions of dollars in Canadian investment and kill thousands of U.S. jobs while enriching adversaries and alienating an ally. … Mr. Biden is sending an early signal that the climate panic will trump nearly everything else in his Administration. The unstated but operative message from the Keystone kill is that he will use regulation and permitting to do the dirty work.” (Editorial, “Biden’s Keystone Pipeline Kill,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/20/2021)

Biden’s Ideologically Driven Decision Eliminated 1,000 Positions As Laid-Off Pipeline Workers Were Left To Lament, ‘They Are Taking My Jobs Away’

“In an email to staff [in January] obtained by POLITICO, Keystone XL chief Richard Prior said the permit denial would force the company to cut more than 1,000 positions. ‘Over 1,000 positions will be eliminated in the coming weeks, the majority of these unionized workers representing the building trades,’ he wrote.” (“Biden Kills Keystone XL Permit, Again,” Politico, 1/20/2021)

“The cancellation of Keystone XL not only ended the billion-dollar pipe dream for the oil industry, but it also resulted in the loss of jobs— and economic opportunities— for thousands of workers. That ripple effect fell on Lynn Allen, who was laid off from the Keystone XL pipeline project following President Biden’s announcement. Allen, a father of three, had been working as a welder for 34 years. ‘I got boys to raise, boys to put through college and, you know what, they are taking my jobs away and I don’t expect the government to pay my way in life,’ Allen told FOX Business.” (“Biden’s Keystone XL Pipeline Cancellation Leaves Laid-Off Workers Begging For Answers: ‘They Are Taking My Jobs Away,’” Fox Business, 2/05/2021)

  • “[Ron] Berringer, 60, is a union steward from Clarinda, Iowa, who has worked on pipelines for decades across seven states — just like his father before him and his three brothers today…. The sense of community, plus good benefits and wages, are what make pipeline work so appealing. Berringer said he’s scheduled to work six days a week, ten hours a day, meaning there’s the constant promise of twenty hours of overtime. He calls it the best job he ever had — his ‘bread and butter.’ Without that financial boost, Berringer says his future looks ‘gloomy.’ He can no longer plan on replacing his pickup truck, which has logged 450,000 miles building pipelines. And he’ll have to reduce the financial help he’s used to sending his two adult daughters. Before the pipeline construction was halted, Berringer said friends inside and outside his union, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 1140 in Omaha, approached him ‘daily’ to ask about  working on Keystone. He said people were often confused about the pipeline’s fate because construction stopped and started as a result of Obama and Trump executive orders.” (“‘It Makes You Want To Give Up.’ Keystone Workers Feel Left Behind By Biden Executive Orders,” CBS News, 2/04/2021)
  • “To these workers, pipelining is more than a livelihood. As a member of LiUNA Local 620, Tyler Noel, 33, said the bonds he’s forged working on pipelines for thirteen years is ‘the only thing I’ve got right now.’ Noel is based in Aberdeen, South Dakota, but spent the last five and a half months of 2020 working on Keystone, about 215 miles away in Murdo, South Dakota. Pipeline laborers relocate for long periods of time during construction, often living in local motels or hauling their own campers…. Without the promise of Keystone, Noel finds himself at a ‘crossroads.’ Work in Murdo ended in December. He has not received a stimulus check. As a result, Noel has been forced to refinance his truck and knows others who have refinanced their homes…. Noel is worried about the possibility that the Biden administration could revoke other pipeline opportunities, especially since he’ll need to accrue more hours on the job in order to be eligible for his pension. ’Anything that was coming in the next few months was supposed to be Keystone,’ he said. ‘If I hadn’t saved my money through the years I would really be in a bind. But I’d say I’ve got at least three months, then I’m gonna have to do something.’” (“‘It Makes You Want To Give Up.’ Keystone Workers Feel Left Behind By Biden Executive Orders,” CBS News, 2/04/2021)

“Climate Envoy John Kerry told reporters that workers in the oil and gas industry ‘can be the people who go to work to make the solar panels.’ But Berringer and Noel aren’t convinced. Both said their best hope is to find work maintaining existing pipelines. Berringer, who is now working at a power plant in Omaha, says he’s worked on wind turbine installation in the past and found the work to be ‘piddly’ and less satisfying because it doesn’t offer the same overtime benefits as pipeline work…. For Noel, the idea of transitioning from his long-practiced trade to a new one is ‘just crazy.’ ‘It’s easy for welders,’ he said. ‘I’m a foreman. My trade is in labor. The money is so much better running a crew. I wouldn’t be anywhere near that doing a wind turbine, which I’ve never done.’” (“‘It Makes You Want To Give Up.’ Keystone Workers Feel Left Behind By Biden Executive Orders,” CBS News, 2/04/2021)



Related Issues: Energy, Green New Deal, Senate Democrats