House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led a roundtable discussion with fellow GOP congressmembers and energy stakeholders Wednesday on how pursuing American energy independence would help to alleviate increased gas prices.
The congressmembers emphasized their disapproval of the White House’s and congressional Democrats’ current efforts to raise costs on U.S. energy production, which, the Republicans argued, would benefit other countries like China and Russia while straining the budgets of lower- and middle-class Americans.
The roundtable comes after the White House in August pressured OPEC, the international oil cartel comprised of 13 countries, to increase its oil supply to relieve Americans struggling with the spike in gas costs.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Joe Biden is focused on “supply issues as it relates to oil” and that “putting additional pressure on OPEC is something that certainly our national security team will continue to do.”
The focus on foreign energy sources comes as Biden and congressional Democrats have loaded their behemoth reconciliation package — which, at present, sits around $1.75 trillion — with climate agenda provisions aimed at shifting the U.S. from relying on energy sources like oil and natural gas toward “green” energy sources like wind and solar.
McCarthy surmised that the Democrats’ “goal here is to make it too expensive for us to produce our own natural resources.” He continued:
So now they want to use hardworking taxpayers’ money and go move it to green energy. So when they spend that taxpayer money, they’re not creating American jobs because who controls the market to that? China. Who’s going to prosper from that? China’s economy’s going to grow based upon taking American taxpayers’ money.
The saddest part about this is we don’t have to rely on somebody else. God blessed this nation with natural resources. We care for them better than any other nation. We do it in an environmentally sound way, but if you do not produce it here, we will still consume it. So, we’re harming the environment by [producing] it someplace else. We’re creating economies for other countries instead of within America.
McCarthy’s roundtable comes as part of a series designed to dissect the various provisions in the reconciliation package, dubbed the “Build Back Better Act,” which serves as the “social” component to the Democrats’ infrastructure agenda. The most recent text of the package is more than 1,600 pages and was released Thursday.
The focus of Wednesday’s roundtable was on how Democrats’ current policies and package proposals are driving the increase in gas prices, which have indeed risen to an average of $3.40 per gallon, per AAA. Gas prices skyrocketed in 2021 and have shown no signs of slowing, and October’s average cost of gasoline marks a seven-year high in the U.S., according to the Energy Department.
Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-NM), who sits on the Natural Resources Committee and comes from a state whose budget is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry, contended that the U.S. “can produce [energy] cleaner and more affordably than any other country, yet we’re putting ourselves at the risk of buying energy from our adversaries. It makes no sense at all.”
Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), another member of the Natural Resources Committee and also the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, directed the Biden administration to “treat America like you’re treating other countries.”
Graves said he believes Democrats’ broader climate agenda is an attempt “to manipulate markets and force us in a direction of taking on things like solar and wind energy and other renewable sources that, look, have an important role in our energy future, but,” he warned:
…by manipulating markets the way that you are without having the domestic production … all this does, as we have seen in history, it plays into the hands of Russia, makes us dependent upon them for domestic energy because we can get it cheaper, and it plays into the hands of China, making 90 percent of the solar panels globally, quartering the market on the rare earths and strategic minerals that they’re prohibiting us from producing domestically.
Others present at the roundtable included Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Pete Stauber (R-MN) and various mayors and industry representatives.
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