America’s energy industry hangs in the balance

n his inauguration address, President Biden spoke of a nation moving forward as one to overcome the many challenges ahead, proclaiming that doing so “requires the most elusive of things in a democracy: unity.” 

Unfortunately for the hardworking men and women employed in America’s energy industry, the new president’s words proved hollow as his administration immediately signed job-killing executive orders dismantling the economic and national security progress America made over the last four years.

President Biden’s actions during his first week in office contradicted his words just one week prior. Far from uniting the nation, the President, with the stroke of a pen, created economic uncertainty and disruption for American workers.

In his first seven days, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and banned mining and drilling on federal lands, placing the future of America’s energy industry and the millions of livelihoods it supports in peril.

What is worse, these actions have nothing to do with moving our country forward. If the Biden administration sincerely wanted to reduce emissions, it would advocate for projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which was on a path to operate entirely by solar, wind, and battery power thus eliminating its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Instead, President Biden killed the project completely on Day 1 of his term, reversing the gains made under President Trump at the expense of the American worker, many of whom are union members.

Our national endeavor to achieve energy independence did not happen overnight. It became a reality because of the tireless leadership of the Trump administration and the hard work of countless American workers to usher in a new era of abundant domestic energy production.

For the first time in more than 70 years, the United States is energy independent. With this comes affordable energy, family-sustaining jobs, and the restoration of America’s strength on the global stage.

The energy production coming out of Pennsylvania’s 12th District plays a critical role in this effort, with our district producing up to 10 percent of America’s natural gas supply on any given day. Pennsylvania has become a state among nations in terms of energy production and the jobs it creates.

Pennsylvania’s statewide energy sector now sustains more than 300,000 jobs, pays more than $23 billion in wages, contributes $45 billion to the commonwealth’s economy, and saves the average household $1,100 every year in energy costs.

Yet, President Biden continually fails to realize that his attack on the energy industry is felt most in communities across the nation that rely on the prosperity of the domestic energy industry to sustain other sectors of the economy.

Once again, our district serves as a useful example. Over the years, energy companies have been outstanding partners in our communities and have helped make great strides in improving rural health care, schools, infrastructure and downstream job opportunities in hotels, restaurants and other industries.

Consequently, when the Biden administration attacks the energy industry, our entire economy is caught in the crossfire — threatening the ability of millions of working Americans to earn a living and provide for their families. 

In a ham-handed rebuttal to this fact, climate tsar John Kerry said in a press conference last week that the gas and coal workers who lost their jobs can simply transition to newer, greener jobs. This brand of ivory-tower patronizing is reminiscent of when now-President Biden told coal miners in 2019 they should just “learn to code.”

The disconnect between this administration and the average American worker is best illustrated by the arrogant condescension it shows the latter, destroying their livelihoods while claiming it’s for their own good. During this press conference, Kerry also conveniently neglected to mention that President Biden’s executive orders are putting Americans out of work faster than there are new, “green” jobs created to replace them.

The green infrastructure Kerry likes to tout pales in comparison to the in-demand jobs needed now to meet America’s growing energy needs. Kerry’s elitist view of America’s workforce only demonstrates how far removed this administration is from the workers whose interests they claim to represent. 

At a time when our focus should be on getting Americans back to work, the Biden administration’s efforts to hamstring our domestic energy sector and the jobs it supports are self-defeating.

If the president’s destructive actions toward America’s domestic energy production in his first week in office are any indication of where energy policy is headed over the next four years, our nation is on a dangerous path.

Since assuming office, the Biden administration has only worsened the economic prospects for Americans trying to get through this pandemic and secure a better future for their families.

In order to sustain good-paying jobs, create prosperity for future generations, and secure American interests around the globe, we must reject and counteract policies that place a higher premium on appeasing the left than protecting the future of America’s energy sector.

Rep. Fred Keller is a Republican Congressman representing the 12th District.

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