Energy Independence is Closer Than Ever
“America is at the beginning of an energy Renaissance.”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently offered this view in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, on which I serve. His optimism marks a refreshing change from the last Administration.
On February 23, 2012, then-President Obama ridiculed the idea that more oil drilling would lead to lower gas prices in Tampa, Florida. He mocked the idea that to lower gas prices, “Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling,” and added, “You know there are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” According to AAA, the national average gas price at the end of that month was $3.70 per gallon.
Oh, how the times have changed. In contrast, on October 10 of this year, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo, offered a different view: the United States needed to cut oil production to keep prices up. Barkindo called on oil producers to take “extraordinary measures” to balance the market and said, “We urge our friends in the shale basins of North America to take this shared responsibility with all the seriousness it deserves.” When the oil barons of OPEC are calling on America to, in essence, slow down production of oil, you know the world has changed. Since the days of the oil embargo in the 1970s until American ingenuity made the shale basins productive, OPEC dictated the world oil price. According to AAA, the same week he made that statement, the national average gas price was $2.481 per gallon, and that price was still slightly inflated because American oil refineries are recovering from the hurricanes of September.
In other words, “Drill, baby, drill,” worked. In the eyes of foreign oil producers, it worked too well.
Energy production in the United States is nothing new, as anyone who knows the heritage of places like the Virginia coalfields understands. Our country possesses tremendous reserves of various energy resources and the brainpower to develop them usefully and responsibly. Government policy is also a factor, however, and in recent years it has been an inhibiting one. But government can play a constructive role, as this Congress and the Trump Administration are intent on doing.
When Secretary Perry came before my subcommittee, he noted that in the United States:
• Coal production has risen by 14% in 2017 and coal exports have risen by 55% compared to 2016
• Oil production is expected to hit a record level next year
• Our country is on track to become a net exporter of natural gas
Fossil fuels are not the only sectors partaking of this Renaissance. Secretary Perry also noted that wind and solar power are now 10% of our national electricity capacity. At last, we have a true “all of the above” energy policy that looks poised to deliver energy independence for America.
Our subcommittee also discussed with Secretary Perry the state of the electrical grid. The natural disasters that have afflicted the country these past months have highlighted the need for a secure, resilient grid. The Secretary highlighted proposals he has made to shore up the grid.
I look forward to continuing work with Secretary Perry and my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to advance policies promoting safe, affordable energy for all Americans.
Cost Sharing Reduction
President Trump recently issued an executive order ending cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies. The previous Administration began making these payments, but it had no authority to spend the money; in fact, the House of Representatives sued over the matter and a federal judge sided with us. President Trump’s action simply complies with the law, but as a consequence, instability in health insurance markets may increase.
If the Senate had acted to reform our health insurance system, as the House voted to do earlier this year, this whole situation could have been avoided. President Trump is correct to end the illegal action started by the Obama Administration, but I have many constituents who are being hurt by Senate inaction. Until the Senate gets its act together and Congress passes a better long-term fix, I am working with some of my colleagues on a temporary patch for CSR that is both lawful and helpful.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.