Lankford Calls Out Biden for Record-High Inflation & Gas Prices
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) continues to call out the Biden Administration for its anti-US energy policies that he says are doing nothing substantive to fight high inflation. Lankford spoke on the US Senate floor today to remind Americans, his Senate colleagues, and the White House that we need more energy of all types in the US to keep prices low and keep America’s economy growing.
The Biden Administration’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) recognizes we will need more oil, gas, and coal for at least the next 30 years. Lankford says that if the Biden Administration keeps preventing energy companies from getting permits, getting loans to expand or build infrastructure, prices will keep going up.
Lankford continues to lead in the Senate to offer solutions to bring down US energy costs, which will ultimately help reduce inflation. Lankford questioned Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the Administration’s energy policies that raise the price of everything. Lankford questioned Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, about why the Biden Administration is standing in the way of US energy and mineral development.
At an Energy Committee hearing, Lankford asked Canadian energy leaders how Canada’s energy permitting process compares to the lengthy and difficult process for getting a mine application approved in the US as well as how we can bring the US to mineral independence. He also asked about Biden’s first foreign policy decision to move our oil imports from Canada to Russia and eventually from Russia to OPEC.
Lankford introduced the Energy Regulations Certainty Act to prevent President Biden from issuing new US oil and gas regulations and restrictions until after Russian troops have withdrawn from Ukraine. Lankford continues to lead the Senate on how to address the problems Biden has caused for stalled US energy production, skyrocketing gas prices, and increased electricity costs. Lankford continues to express support for Ukraine amid Russian aggression and repeatedly called on the US to cut off the purchase of Russian oil and gas.
Lankford sent two letters to the President to implore him to restore America’s energy dominance and to change course on the failing energy policies that are emboldening Putin. Lankford stood up to FERC for its ongoing push to stifle and even stop US energy production because of Biden’s lock-step with climate-change extremists.
I want to get today’s reality check. The Federal Reserve today raised interest rates 75 basis points, three-quarters of a point, with a statement they may come back and do that again in another month. A point and a half in two months, it’s a pretty dramatic effect. It’s going to be a situation where many people 40 and younger are about to face interest rates they’ve never faced in their lifetime. The cost of buying a car that’s already high is about to get higher. The cost of buying a home that’s already really high is about to get much higher. Inflation is now at 8.6 percent. A lot of people are beginning to feel what that really means. This is not some strange anomaly.
This is inflation over the last decade. It’s bounced around about the same level basically for a decade until right there—March of 2021. And then it just skyrockets at that point. This is the reality that we’re facing at this point. What does inflation really look like when you say it’s 8.6 percent? People know what that feels like. The cost of eggs has gone up 32 percent in the past year. 32 percent for eggs. The cost of milk is up 16 percent. The cost of butter also 16 percent. The cost of coffee, 15 percent. And the cost of baby formula—if you can find it—is up 13 percent.
And gas prices? Oh, hello. Gas prices—that really has had an effect. This is gas prices since January of 2017. Again, we look and stay about the same until January of 2021. I wonder what happened then.
And then look at this. And in the conversation about gas prices, that from the Administration lately has been it’s all Putin’s fault, well, here’s the rising gas prices since President Biden’s inauguration right there, and right there is the war that began in Russia. So, this little increase right here is the part that’s actually there. This is consumer price inflation. This is on gas prices. Same thing, to be able to see this flat line on gas prices, that spike. That’s the invasion of Ukraine happening right there to be able to see what’s added on to it since then. So, this is not just about the invasion in Ukraine. This has been ongoing since late January 2021.
The challenge is now, is this something intentional? Is this something accidental? Well, quite frankly, I think it’s a bit of both. We all remember very well this moment during the presidential campaign when President Biden was campaigning, and he walks over to a young lady in the campaign stop and says, ‘Look at my eyes. I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuel. I guarantee you.’ That was this moment that happened here. This is not something totally accidental. It was a drive to say we’ve got to shift to solar, we’ve got to shift to wind, we’ve got to shift to hydro, we’ve got to shift to other things, and we’re going to get rid of fossil fuels and we’re going to accelerate that as fast as possible.
Now I have to tell you, I live in a state that we use a lot of wind power. We use a lot of solar power. We use hydro power. We have a very diverse energy portfolio. But right now the people in my state are paying much higher prices for gasoline, much higher prices for natural gas, much higher prices for electricity because the policies that have been put in place are driving up the cost, and people feel it. This is what it looks like at this point. This is the last 24 months of retail average prices.
Right there, January 2021, and then to be able to see what’s happening in prices all over the country. Now, the Administration’s response just in the past couple of weeks has been this statement. President Biden said ‘my Administration is going to continue to do everything it can to lower prices for the American people.’ I love the word ‘continue’ to be in there. They’re going to ‘continue’ to do everything that they can. They’re going to keep doing these things that clearly have driven up prices overwhelmingly on the American people.
It was, let’s say, Putin’s fault. It’s been oil companies’ fault. It’s been refineries’ fault. That’s the new one they actually put out in the last 24 hours. This is all the fault of refineries that are just taking up too much profit. The challenge has been an ongoing attack on American energy from the very beginning. Literally day one, when President Biden canceled the Keystone Pipeline, he started his process of fulfilling his promise he made in the campaign that I ‘guarantee you I’m going to end fossil fuels.’ Day one was canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, getting crude oil from Canada, about 800,000 barrels a day. What he didn’t announce this day is we still have to have that same 800,000 barrels a day from somewhere, because it’s heavy crude. We purchase some of our heavy crude from other places, so we still have to get it. His announcement, though, on day one was we’re not going to get it from Canada. What people don’t realize is this announcement day one was we’re not going to get it from Canada. We’re going to get it from Russia. How did that foreign policy work out? Terribly. Day one, we’re not going to get oil from Canada. We’re going to get it from Russia. We’re going to get it from other places instead.
He put a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing. That moratorium, by the way, still stays in place in multiple areas. 24 percent of our oil and gas in the United States comes from federal lands and waters—24 percent. So, what this did was say for the future of how we’re going to develop, we’re not going to develop in those areas anymore. I’m going to cut off 24 percent of the supply coming in. Again, this goes back to his campaign promise—’I guarantee you I’m going to end fossil fuels.’ He declined to defend the Gulf Lease sale 257, that’s offshore. Basically, an environmental group went in and sued and said we don’t think they followed the process. The Administration was like, ‘we’re not going to challenge that, we’re going to let this environmental group take this whole thing down and not increase our supply of oil coming from the gulf.’
He limited seismic studies necessary for new production in the Gulf. What does that matter? Well, he has opened some areas and said ‘you can drill for more oil in these areas. Oh but, by the way, you’re allowed to do that, but if you want to do seismic testing, before you do it, which is a standard, oh, we’re not doing anymore seismic testing this whole year. We’re not going to allow you to actually prepare a site. We’re just going to tell you can do it. That’s this mode that the Administration is in, produce more oil, but ‘I’m not going to actually allow you to do that with the permitting.’
He’s failed to implement a five-year offshore leasing program. What difference does that make? By law, by law now, the Administration is required to be able to put a five-year offshore leasing proposal in place. The current one expires on June the 30th of this year. That’s days away. There is no present plan in place to be able to replace it. In fact, I personally asked Secretary Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior, and she said, ‘We plan to by June the 30th,’ the deadline to have a new one in place, ‘we plan that day to be able to put out a comment of what we could do if we do a new plan.’ And I said, ‘when will that be complete?’ Her response to me was ‘we don’t have a deadline when that will be complete.’ So, what is required by law to have a plan for how we’re going to do offshore leasing, they’re going to instead, by the day it should be in place, begin discussing when they might do it in the days ahead. Again, it goes back to we’re going to talk about it but we’re actually not going to put this lease sale plan in place.
He canceled a lease sale in Alaska’s Cook Inlet where some of our oil comes from, he closed off half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska to any future energy development. He pushed regulations that would slow or halt a build-out of natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas export infrastructure. This is a FERC piece that they actually put a new leader in place in that spot and then the first action they took was to make putting pipelines heading to the gulf to sell natural gas to Europe harder to do and more expensive to do. And if we want to do natural gas pipelines across our country, he would also make it more expensive, more complicated. So, literally as the price is going up for natural gas, he made it even more expensive to be able to transport natural gas and harder to be able to sell it to our allies.
He proposed new financial regulations designed to dry up investment for traditional energy products. This body will remember nominees that were put by the Biden Administration to go to the Federal Reserve that stated out loud their goal of coming on to the Federal Reserve was to cut off access to capital for any kind of energy development that was a fossil fuel. Literally saying you can’t get loans and money to get access to that. Make it harder to actually move it when you get it, if you can get it at all on federal lands, and make it harder to be able to access capital.
He’s also proposed raising taxes on oil and gas development. Remember, my comment about—or his comment actually—saying he’s going to ‘continue to do everything he can to lower prices for the American people’ for energy? Well, what he’s actually done is he’s proposed a whole new set of taxes on all energy companies. In fact, even recently a conversation about a windfall’s profit tax on energy companies. Now, here’s the basic economics that this group knows well. If you tax it more, you get less of it. If you get less of it, the price goes up. This is not hard. This is basic economics. But yet, this Administration has proposed multiple new taxes in their budget that they just put out in the previous month at the same time he said, I’m going to continue to do what I can to lower prices at the same time he put out proposals to dramatically increase oil and gas costs.
Nominated anti-traditional energy activists for key posts, turned to hostile nations like Iran and Venezuela to meet the US energy demand instead of US producers. It’s been interesting. I’ve heard several people say, well, we’ve got high number of production of oil and gas here in the United States. But the fact is we’re still half-a-million barrels less now of production than what we were pre-pandemic. We’ve not caught up on actual production here. And the Biden Administration has made it even harder to go get it.
While the Biden Administration is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia to talk to them about getting more oil, our friends in Canada are saying, ‘why don’t you come to Canada and talk to us about production? We can increase supply to the United States.’ And American producers are saying ‘we can increase supply to the United States if you will lift regulations, allow us to get permits, stop making it harder to move it, stop making it more expensive to get it, stop adding more taxes on to us.’ We can produce more in the United States. Listen, the price of oil right now is about $117 a barrel. There’s plenty of incentive to go get it, but the Administration continues to make it harder and harder and harder and more and more unpredictable to actually go get it. And so folks are not going to get more. And while the Biden Administration blames speculators on Wall Street and rich oil companies and everyone else, the basic facts are the Administration policies are what are driving this problem.
Now are there solutions to this? Of course there are. There are ways to resolve this. We can re-start federal leasing onshore and offshore. And I’m not talking about having massive rigs everywhere. We do oil drilling and gas drilling better than anyone else in the world. While the Administration’s going over to Saudi Arabia to go get oil to be able to use in the United States, don’t we think that we produce it cleaner than Saudi Arabia does?
What in the world? If we’re going to need to use it, then why aren’t we producing it here in the United States? If this is all about a global climate challenge, then why aren’t we focused on production here rather than running overseas and trying to be able to get it there? Restart the permitting process, restart the leasing onshore and offshore. Stop all the regulations that are designed to limit and punish oil and gas production. If the Administration just did a moratorium on this, it would make a significant difference.
Actually put timelines for permitting and litigation. Again, I’ve mentioned Canada several times, but if there’s is a mine in Canada for things like lithium and other things that we need and the whole world needs, they have deadlines and timelines to be able to do that, it takes 15 years to be able to do that in the United States if you can get it done at all. Because there’s no timelines and deadlines. The same thing on production of oil and gas. When there’s this constant litigation challenge all the time, it makes it more difficult to go get it. People need to be engaged in the process. The community needs to be heard, tribes, local governments, people need to be heard and consulted in the process, but with no deadlines out there, there’s no incentive to be able to actually go after it.
Promote projects that enhance mutual security like the Keystone Pipeline, like other pipelines. We learned when there was a security problem on the Colonial Pipeline coming out last year to North Carolina and North Carolina suddenly didn’t have refined products gasoline, the whole East Coast discovered we’re dependent on one pipeline, one. If that one pipeline actually has a structural failure, what happens to the East Coast? Listen, you can multiply that all over the country and while this Administration fights every pipeline company trying to put in a pipeline, they increase our risk of having a major problem in large sections of the country losing access to energy. They’re gambling with our future at this point while we’re watching prices exceed $5 a gallon.
Focus on the solutions that don’t raise taxes on energy or limit US energy production. I did have to laugh last week when the President made a speech and said he’s working on bringing down the cost of energy and so the announcement was, ‘I’m going to bring down the cost of energy by dropping tariffs on solar panels coming from the far east.’ Talk about out of touch. That’s out of touch. Not only because if we’re going to produce solar panels, why aren’t we incentivizing the production of solar panels here in America rather than encouraging the production of solar panels overseas in the far east? But how in the world is dropping tariffs on solar panels from the far east going to help folks filling up their tank with gas next week?
The President said he was going to solve energy issues on the price at the pump by increasing the amount of ethanol that we would use. Remember that one? That was about five months ago. That we’ll just have more ethanol and went to Iowa and made an announcement, ‘We’ll just do more ethanol,’ and the prices continued to be able to skyrocket and rise. The President then came on and said, ‘all right, I have, we still have a higher and higher and higher price.’ So, the ethanol whole thing didn’t work when he put that you out here, and so he came back and said ‘we’re going to do the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We’re going to release a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum reserve.’ Remember that announcement? That announcement was made right about there, on this chart, is when that announcement was made.
How has it gone for gas prices since his announcement of we’re going to release a million barrels a day from the strategic petroleum reserve? It’s still going to be able to continue to rise. Because prices aren’t based on short-term input from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it is based on long-term supply. That’s basic economics. Well now the talk has been a temporary gas tax holiday—a temporary gas tax holiday and that’s going to give people relief. Can I remind everyone we’re at over $5 a gallon? The temporary gas tax holiday would drop the price 18 cents. Eighteen cents is what it would drop the price. We’re not trying to get an 18-cent drop, we’re trying to get it back down to where it was over here or how about over here when we were at $2 a gallon, not 18 cents. Besides the fact, if you drop the gas tax holiday 18 cents, just for this year, it’s a $20 billion hole in our infrastructure, in our building for bridges, highways and roads, to get an 18-cent bump.
There’s also been the proposal that’s out there that he’s going to take over refineries. That was today. This, again, it seems like every week there’s a new thing that they throw out. Now it is a letter he sent to the major refineries and in the letter that the President sent to the major refineries, he wrote, ‘my Administration is prepared to use all reasonable and appropriate federal government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied.’ Great. So, the President is going to go into the refineries and he’s going to take them over, the same Administration that’s managing our baby formula is now going to manage our refineries. That’s going to work out terrific. Our refineries right now are running at 95 percent capacity. 95 percent.
The interesting thing about our refineries, America’s not built a new refinery since 1977. And just in the past three years, we’ve lost almost a million barrels a day of refining capacity in the United States from refineries shutting down. Maybe the better question the President could ask is, how do we start increasing our ability to refine, not how is he going to take over refineries and run it himself?
We have a major structural problem right now. This is just evidence of what’s going on across the whole economy. There are answers. There are solutions. But they’re not raising taxes and taking over refineries and putting oil out from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or running to Saudi Arabia. That’s not going to solve our energy problems. And I can assure us we’re not going to solve our 8.6 inflation rate until we solve the price of energy, because the price of energy is baked into every single product that we buy, everything. And if this doesn’t get solved, this doesn’t get better.
Mr. President, do what needs to be done to increase supply in America so that the price will go down. We all believe, we all believe in the decades ahead we’re going to have more electric vehicles, we’ll have more renewable energy. We all believe that. But 98 percent of the vehicles on the road right now run on oil and gas, and fulfilling your promise, your promise, that you’re going to get rid of fossil fuels right now by making it harder to do pipelines, harder to get capital, harder to do permitting, more complicated regulations, is causing this mess.
Thirty years from now, we may all be driving electric vehicles. Great. We don’t today. And today we need solutions for how we’re going to move in the country. That involves increasing supply. That will get down inflation. That will help us as a nation.