U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the use of energy as a tool and a weapon, and ensuring energy security for the United States and its allies. 

The hearing featured testimony from Mr. Jonathan Elkind, senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University; Dr. Michelle Michot Foss, fellow in Energy, Minerals, and Materials at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University; Ms. Colette Hirstius, Shell’s senior vice president for the Gulf of Mexico; Ms. Melanie Kenderdine, principal at Energy Futures Initiative; and Dr. Kenneth B. Medlock III, James A. Baker III and Susan G. Baker fellow in Energy and Resource Economics and senior director at the Center for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and the director of Master of Energy Studies in the Economics Department at Rice University. 

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your strong opening statement.

“Thank you for holding today’s hearing.

“Last year, President Biden inherited an energy dominant America.

“He has spent the last 13 months squandering it.

“Since day one, the president has sought to end American oil, natural gas, and coal production – the source of nearly 80 percent of our energy.

“He has banned new federal leases for oil and gas.

“He has ground to a halt the permitting of natural gas pipelines and storage facilities.

“And he has made it much more difficult for energy producers to obtain financing.

“The results have been predictable: sky-high energy prices; the highest inflation in 40 years, new numbers out today; and he has emboldened adversaries.

“The price of a barrel of crude oil recently reached $129.

“The last time oil prices broke $100 was in 2014.

“At the time, Joe Biden was vice president of the United States.

“The geopolitical importance of U.S. energy dominance cannot be overstated.

“In 2018, the United States was able to sanction Iranian oil over that country’s ties to terrorism.

“And since we were energy dominant, those sanctions didn’t increase the price for American’s at the pump.

“Now the president wants to cut a deal with Iran.

“How times have changed.

“We shouldn’t be bankrolling Iran’s war machine just as we shouldn’t be bankrolling Russia’s war machine.

“We’ve all heard about the atrocities that Putin’s troops are committing.

“How do you think this barbarism was paid for?

“It’s been paid for by Russian energy.

“Energy is the single largest source of revenue to the Russian state.

“In 2021, Russia was our third largest foreign supplier of oil after Canada and Mexico.

“Last year, we imported nearly 700,000 barrels of Russian oil each and every day.

“Russia is also among the largest suppliers of uranium to the United States as the chairman mentioned in his opening remarks.

“Make no mistake, the money spent on Russian energy helps support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“A state department official in the Foreign Relations Committee hearing even said that the sales of Russian energy was the cash cow that has paid for Putin’s war machine.

“Before the invasion, President Biden was begging OPEC and Russia to produce more oil to sell to the United States.

“He has now followed Congress’s lead and banned imports of Russian oil, natural gas and coal.

“He should also ban imports of Russian uranium.

“Despite skyrocketing prices, the president is still hostile to American energy production.

“He wants to turn to Venezuela.

“He wants to turn to Iran.

“This is a pattern.

“The president was willing to let Russia build pipelines, like Nord Stream 2.

“But no, he won’t let Americans build pipelines – not Keystone and not pipelines today for gathering lines and to allow us to produce and use American energy.

“The contrast is astonishing.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows just how short-sighted the president’s energy policy has been.

“Yet the president said not a single word about increasing American energy production in his State of the Union speech.

“The idea that America should be producing more energy doesn’t appear to have crossed the president’s mind.

“Rising energy costs are punishing American families, especially those on low and  fixed incomes.

“President Biden wants us to believe that his policies are not to blame.

“His solution continues to be to stop using fossil fuel.

“He wants to force Americans to drive expensive electric cars and insulate their homes.

“This is a fantasy.

“The reality is that the world still largely runs on oil, natural gas, and coal.

“That is not going to change in the foreseeable future – no matter how the work goes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Killing American oil, natural gas, and coal production isn’t going to change that.

“It will just enrich our adversaries and leave America weaker and more insecure.

“The president announced that he’s releasing another couple days’ worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“Others want a gasoline tax holiday.

“We don’t need gimmicks – we need more American energy.

“No other major energy producing country shuts off its own reserves to production.

“Not Russia.

“Not Iran.

“Not China.

“Not Saudi Arabia.

“Why should we?

“Mr. Chairman, I’m glad you called attention to this talking line from the administration about the 9000 leases.

“As you know, leasing is just the first area you get permission from the government. You pay for the lease. Then you have to apply for permission to drill.

“It’s like you paid the rent for the apartment, but the government won’t give you the key to get in the door because they haven’t given you the permission to drill.

“Once you are able to produce energy from there, they won’t allow the production. They won’t give you the permission to put together the pipeline to move the oil or the natural gas specifically from where it’s coming out of the ground.

“America is the world’s energy superpower.

“It is time, once again, we started acting like it.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for this important hearing.”

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