by Thomas Catenacci
Democrats and environmental groups were silent when asked about the importance of U.S. energy independence in light of the energy market volatility caused by the Ukraine crisis.
Several Democratic leaders in the House and Senate who hold leadership roles on committees or subcommittees tasked with overseeing energy policy ignored requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday about the importance of promoting U.S. energy independence. In addition, five major environmental groups chose not to address the issue or stayed silent when asked about the issue.
The U.S. is set to return to being a net importer of crude oil in 2022 under the Biden administration, according to federal projections. The nation became a net exporter of total energy in 2019, factoring in both coal and natural gas trade, and a net oil exporter in 2020.
“The United States must transition to clean energy for electricity and fuel,” a spokesperson for the climate group the Union of Concerned Scientists told the DCNF in an email. “The faster we do this the better for multiple reasons, including weaning ourselves off of oil.”
The spokesperson declined to comment further.
California Rep. Ro Khanna, the chairman of the House Oversight energy subcommittee, shared a letter with the DCNF that he signed with fellow congressional Democrats asking President Joe Biden to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in light of increasing oil and gasoline prices. The letter called on the administration to also work with foreign producers to boost output, but neglected to address domestic production or energy independence.
“At a time when American consumers are suffering because of Russia’s actions, we should insist that our international partners do more to increase production and stabilize prices,” the Democratic letter stated.
The price of oil, a major determinant of gasoline prices, hit its highest level in nearly eight years across the world, including in the U.S., after Russia unleashed its attack on Ukraine early Thursday. Russia provided more oil to the U.S. than any other country except Canada and was Europe’s main supplier in 2021.
Major fossil fuel industry groups urged the Biden administration to unleash domestic oil and gas drilling, noting its importance for both U.S. national security and stability abroad. Several elected Republicans have also joined in calls for greater fossil fuel production at home.
“Energy security is national security,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a statement shared with the DCNF. “It’s now clearer than ever what is at stake when anti-American energy policies make us and Europe more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas. President Putin and Russia’s economy are dependent upon dominating energy production and exporting to other nations. He gains power by doing so, and it’s what funds his military and aggressive behavior.”
“I continue to urge President Biden to restore America’s energy dominance,” she said.
Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has taken a number of steps to restrict fossil fuel production, nixing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ditching an oil drilling project in Alaska, staying silent on a court ruling that prohibited an offshore drilling lease in the Gulf of Mexico, attempting to ban new drilling leases on federal lands and making it harder for utilities to gain approval for natural gas projects.
Democrats and environmentalists alike have aggressively pushed a rapid transition to renewables, boosting both solar and wind energy technology.
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Thomas Catenacci is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Ro Khanna” by California House. Photo “Cathy McMorris Rodgers” by U.S. House Office of Photography. Background Photo “Oil Fracking” by jwigley.