Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Feb. 28 vowed to introduce legislation that will reopen energy production in the United States “full throttle” as the cost of oil continues to skyrocket amid record inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Announcing the legislation, dubbed The American Energy Independence Act of 2022, Hawley said on Twitter that the bill will “reverse President Biden’s shutdown of the American energy sector and return American energy to full production.”
“Tomorrow, I will introduce legislation in the Senate to reopen American energy production full throttle and reverse Joe Biden’s disastrous capitulation to our enemies,” Hawley said.
The bill comes as oil prices surged above the $100 per barrel mark on Feb. 23 after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised address that a military operation was set to get underway in Ukraine. The last time the price of oil rose over $100 per barrel was in 2014.
Meanwhile, gas and energy prices have steadily been rising in the United States where total domestic gasoline stocks have declined and demand for gas has increased, with experts warning that Americans could face more pain ahead at gasoline pumps.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted President Joe Biden to issue sanctions against the company building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline after Germany announced a freeze on the project. The pipelines would carry around 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany each year.
Subsequent “massive and targeted” sanctions against Russia were also announced by the EU, which includes targeting the country’s oil financial, energy and transport sector, among others.
Experts fear that such sanctions will drive up energy prices even more, with many NATO countries such as Germany dependent on Russian oil to fuel their countries while Russia remained the largest supplier of natural gas and petroleum oils to the EU in 2021, according to Eurostat.
Russia is also one of the world’s largest producers of oil and natural gas, accounting for 17 percent of the world’s natural gas and 12 percent of its oil.
Amid concerns over prices that look set to increase further, Hawley says his bill will ensure that the United States achieves “full energy independence and low energy costs for its citizens” and makes such a move an official policy.
It would also “instruct federal agencies to identify and rescind existing regulations that have the effect of reducing American energy independence,” and prohibit new rules that reduce energy security or raise energy prices, as well as direct agencies to work towards achieving “energy independence” by 2024.
The bill also proposes defunding contributions by the United States to any provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement, easing regulatory burdens on energy companies involved in fracking, and lowering the “social cost of carbon” to $0 per ton to focus government standards on boosting domestic energy production as opposed to prioritizing the U.N.’s climate change goals.
Finally, it would “rescind the Biden Administration’s moratorium on oil and natural gas leases on public lands,” and restore the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline that runs between Canada and the United States after it was canceled by the Biden Administration last year, citing predicted impacts of climate change.
“The Biden Administration’s energy priorities are completely backwards and now working Americans are paying the price,” Hawley said in a statement. “The United States cannot afford to be energy dependent on our enemies. We must reopen domestic energy production full throttle, restore our energy independence, and reverse this policy of American energy surrender.”
Hawley’s announcement comes as White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Sunday that calls for the United States to boost domestic production of oil are a “misdiagnosis.”
“The Keystone Pipeline was not processing oil through the system. That does not solve any problems. That’s a misdiagnosis or maybe a misdiagnosis of what needs to happen,” Psaki said during an interview with ABC This Week Sunday. “I would also note that on oil leases, what this actually justifies, in President Biden’s view, is the fact that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, on oil in general … and we need to look at other ways of having energy in our country and others.”
Before the Biden administration pulled the plug on Keystone XL, pipeline owner TransCanada had predicted the project to be open for use by 2023.