By Charlie Burd
Last week, Senator Joe Manchin called on the Biden administration to ban crude oil imports from Russia in a push toward energy independence. In his words:
“The entire world is watching as Vladimir Putin uses energy as a weapon in an attempt to extort and coerce our European allies…. The United States can and must ramp up domestic energy production and increase access to our abundant resources and technologies to both protect our energy independence and support our allies around the globe.”
Senator Manchin is exactly right. As geopolitical tensions rise and energy prices continue to climb higher, the world is looking to America for energy leadership and stability. Instead, the administration continues to restrict access to America’s oil and natural gas resources, and legal and regulatory uncertainty is weakening U.S. production and endangering our national security. Most pressing, our current offshore leasing program is set to expire on July 1, and the Biden administration is well behind schedule and highly unlikely to finalize a new leasing program by this deadline.
The current five-year offshore leasing program, established under the Obama administration, introduced the current guidelines for the federal government to engage in the offshore production of oil and gas. This program has been an essential component as the U.S. expanded its domestic production to become less reliant on foreign competitors.
Following President Biden’s Executive Order directing a pause on this program, the current administration has yet to signal any intentions of establishing a new five-year program. This unprecedented development is set to restrict federal offshore lease sales, presenting a major threat to our domestic energy production.
The administration is fixated on reducing our domestic use of oil and gas in its commitment to reverse the course of climate change. Yet, ironically, the decision to end our current offshore leasing program will only exacerbate these current problems. U.S. production is among the lowest carbon barrels produced in the world, and by shifting our reliance more heavily toward foreign imports, this decision would boost greenhouse gas emissions.
As Senator Manchin points out, this is already taking place. Each day, we import more than half a million barrels of crude oil from Russia for our own domestic use. When it comes to international security, it is paramount that President Biden and his administration value the importance of energy independence.
To meet this ambitious objective, states must work alongside the administration to reassert their commitment to domestic production. West Virginia continues to play a pivotal role in domestic energy production, but key regulatory improvements must be made to lead us toward energy independence. Investments in our mineral owners and a modernization to the tax code will make West Virginia more competitive in the global energy race.
By bolstering our natural gas and oil production with renewed support, West Virginia’s leaders can renew the shift back to domestic energy leadership against our recent reliance upon unstable international adversaries. Unfortunately, this important goal will be unachievable if President Biden stands by the status quo that he instituted.
— Charlie Burd is executive director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia, an organization that lobbies for natural gas and oil development. Learn more at GOWV.com