Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing about promoting American energy security while reducing emissions.

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.

“Thank you, Chairman Carper.

“I also want to thank our witnesses for coming here today. It’s nice to see my former colleague, Jim Matheson. I think we came into the Congress together. It’s nice to see you. Welcome to the committee.

Now, as much as ever, promoting America’s energy security is of the utmost importance.

“Not only can the U.S. lead the way on energy development, we can do it responsibly and with lower emissions.

“U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have steadily decreased, thanks primarily to the shale revolution and American ingenuity.

“But, to pave the way for another American energy revolution, we need to take concrete steps to look at this administration’s policies that are holding American energy producers back here at home to the benefit of hostile regimes with appalling environmental track records.

“More specifically, facilitating additional American energy production will allow us to better assist our allies as they move away from Russian energy sources.

“Action to reverse the Biden administration’s regulatory policies will help us combat rising energy prices, ensuring Americans can fill up their gas tanks and keep their homes warm now and in the future.

“Over the last year, we have seen an unfortunate pattern from the administration.

“The administration’s policies have strained supplies, increased prices for hard working families, limited and delayed projects, chilled investments that could yield more production, and are threatening the affordability, reliability, and new capacity of our nation’s energy supply.

“As a candidate, President Biden promised to stop all drilling on federal lands.

And on day one in office, the administration stopped all new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and killed the Keystone XL Pipeline. They have also backed many challenges to energy projects in court.

“On top of these actions, activist judges have halted construction of necessary energy projects across this country, like the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

“As a result, the average regular gas price in the U.S. has climbed to more than $4 per gallon, diesel is now over $5 per gallon, and some parts of the country are paying more than $5, or even more than $6, per gallon.

“These are the highest recorded average gas prices our country has ever seen, topping even the run up in 2008.

“Now, the administration is trying to claim that rising gasoline, oil, and natural gas prices are solely caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“But, prices were skyrocketing well before this.

“For example, the week Biden took office, the average price of gas was $2.38 per gallon.

“It rose to $3.53 per gallon, an increase of $1.15 per gallon, by February 21, 2022, the date of the last report before Putin invaded Ukraine. 

“The most recent report recorded prices at $4.24 per gallon, up an additional 71 cents.

“So, the majority of the Biden gas price increase took place before the invasion.

“Similarly, natural gas and other commodity prices have skyrocketed.

“The price of natural gas in New England averaged more than $20 per million BTU in January, spiking to almost $30 for several days due to a lack of pipelines to the region, or the equivalent of $180 per barrel of oil.

“At the same time, natural gas in my region was about $5 per million BTU.

“In 2021, home electricity bills rose at their fastest rate since 2008. Yet, EPA is working toward a menu of new regulations targeting power plants that will make the problem worse.

“This is on top of the record inflation that is impacting West Virginia families who are now paying higher grocery bills, higher gas prices at the pump, and facing higher costs to heat and cool their homes, leaving hardworking Americans struggling to balance higher costs in all areas of their lives. This is what we hear when we go home.

“So, President Biden’s attacks on the industry are having their intended effect. He just doesn’t like the way it materially impacts voters and taxpayers.

“If we are serious about domestic energy security—along with reducing emissions—we need to get back to policies that encourage and utilize American production and innovation.

“We need to reduce unnecessary roadblocks to vital energy projects and infrastructure.

“We need an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that does include electric vehicles, renewables, and all-of-the-above hydrogen development, which we see.

“It is hard to deliver on American energy security if permitting complexity continues to pose an insurmountable challenge.

“Regulatory and permitting certainty is essential for building infrastructure to achieve our goals of energy security, whether that’s a natural gas pipeline, transmission capacity for solar and wind, or lithium mining.

“For too long, states and project sponsors have been stuck in a regulatory purgatory, seeking endless approvals from up to 13 federal agencies.

“Additionally, dozens of state and local approvals are typically required before construction.

“I do not see how we can achieve energy security and build out clean energy if a labyrinth permitting process chills investment in potential new projects.

“While we are focused on Russia, Congress can do more to support energy security domestically by expanding our production of resources in the U.S.

“The situation in Ukraine also shows how much more America could be doing to help our allies if the Biden administration wasn’t standing in the way of additional fossil fuel development from the first day in office.

“We need to support American energy solutions, including coal, nuclear, and oil and gas, as well as critical minerals essential to making those EVs and other products.

“These are important to our energy security and are critically important to energy affordability.

“So, some of the ways we can accomplish this is:

  • Providing regulatory certainty by codifying actions the Trump administration took to provide certainty under the Clean Water Act.
  • We can expedite permitting and review processes by codifying One Federal Decision—which is in the bipartisan infrastructure package for transportation—providing litigation certainty, and allowing federal agencies to use one another’s categorical exclusions.
  • Limiting red tape for gasoline and other types of fuels by preventing regulations and new fees that will increase the price of our energy.

“If the administration won’t take action, then Congress needs to.

“I look forward to hearing what the witnesses have to say about bolstering our energy security and encourage American investment while moving forward on the environmental issues that we know are so very important.

“Thank you.” 

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