This month, the House of Representatives fired its first energy reform salvo — a bill prohibiting oil sales from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This Thursday, the House is set to vote on another bill targeting the Biden Administration’s politically driven raids on the SPR. Unlike the prohibition legislation directed at our primary adversary, this second bill is focused on our Nation’s energy needs — a return to supply-side growth.
Sending a resoundingly clear signal of support for strategic decoupling with the CCP is a good undertaking. Congress should do it more often and, when they do, make it matter. The Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act certainly has the benefit of putting the CCP on notice, but because oil from the SPR is sold onto the open market, any purchasing entity can turn around and sell into the Chinese market. Penalizing those resellers may put a stop to that, but even then, there is a fundamental point to remember – oil is a highly fungible global commodity. (RELATED: DEROY MURDOCK: As The Left Sacrifices Natural Gas At The Altar Of Climate Nirvana, Americans Freeze To Death)
Alleviating supply-side pressures in Southeast Asia or Europe would increase oil market liquidity and drive down prices here at home. After all, this is a core reason Congress repealed the ban on oil exports in 2015 on the heels of the shale revolution.
As Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) put it, “[t]he problem here is not our participation in the global oil market or America exporting oil abroad. Americans benefit from the global oil market, and we have the proof. When we lifted the crude oil export ban, the cost of gasoline dropped by over $1/gallon.”
Sadly, many policymakers on the Left are either constrained by a false notion of energy scarcity or driven by a dangerous desire to shut down American production in the name of climate change. The inclination to leap toward export bans rather than unleashing American energy abundance demonstrates the profound effect climate activists have had in this area.
Consider the argument deployed by Representative Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who voted in favor of the bill. Representative Pallone claimed that the bill does not go far enough. He and many others on the Left would prefer a return to the imaginary glory days when the U.S. banned all oil exports.
The CCP is a serious threat to America, but the most impactful solution to addressing the challenges facing our Nation is to unleash America’s energy abundance and end the Biden Administration’s headlong rush toward crippling dependencies on foreign energy sources.
Thankfully, many in Congress reject the Biden Administration’s zero-sum game and seek to safeguard American energy security and usher in renewed prosperity. In doing so, these policymakers should keep in mind two key considerations.
First, Congress should change how a President can utilize the SPR. The Biden Administration’s depletion of the SPR as a cover-up for its war on American energy production demonstrates precisely what not to do. We must ensure accountability and clear guidelines before draining our energy security savings account. The America First Policy Institute has developed several options for how we can do just that.
This brings us to the second and most important item — facilitating supply-side growth. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee (WA-05), embraced this solution by introducing the Strategic Production Response Act, which would require a plan for increased production on federal lands before depleting the SPR. This approach would go far in discouraging reckless federal market intervention for momentary political exploitation that we have seen in the past two years.
Talk of export bans does nothing to alleviate the problems Americans face, whether targeted bans like those from conservatives or dangerously and mindlessly sweeping ones offered by the Left. It’s time we address the problem head-on and demand the ability to benefit from America’s energy abundance.
Samuel Buchan is the former Director of International Economic Policy at the White House National Economic Council and Senior Advisor to Secretaries of Energy Rick Perry and Dan Brouillette. He currently serves as the Director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the America First Policy Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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