In President Biden’s most recent visit to Wisconsin, he touted the many benefits of his signature bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Long overdue improvements to our roads, bridges, water systems and broadband connectivity will undoubtedly strengthen our local economies and help create good-paying jobs for Wisconsinites.
However, much of the bill’s gains may be overshadowed by the skyrocketing fuel and energy prices squeezing families’ pocketbooks. Strengthening our domestic energy production is the best way to fix this problem, yet by this summer our nation’s energy production will dwindle and our crisis will deepen unless President Biden takes action now.
On July 1st, America’s current five-year offshore leasing program – which authorizes new investments in offshore fuel production – is set to expire. While this wouldn’t cancel current energy projects, it would stifle new investment and create significant uncertainty for future production. By stopping future investments and offshore production, our domestic supply of oil and natural gas will be reduced nearly 33% over the next 15 years – which will drive prices even higher.
This poor policy decision couldn’t come at a worse time, as Wisconsinites are already facing historically high inflation and skyrocketing prices at the pump. With wage growth failing to keep up with new costs, workers are seeing more of their hard-earned dollars whittle away.
President Biden is well aware of these challenges and outlined the work he’s doing to address it. Investing in clean, renewable energy will alleviate these challenges in the long term while reducing the impacts of climate change. Further, releasing the Strategic Oil Reserves and providing additional relief for consumers may ease the sting in the short term. Yet these solutions are not enough if our domestic oil and natural gas supply is unable to keep up with the country’s demand.
According to the Department of Energy, the oil and gas industry supports over 12 million jobs and generates over $200 billion in tax revenue every year. Additionally, with the conflict in Ukraine, America’s European allies will be looking to us for a stable energy supply, giving us an opportunity to support our allies and grow our economy at the same time.
Make no mistake – we should work toward a clean energy future. But that future isn’t yet here. The vast majority of us still drive gas-powered cars, and the vast majority of our homes are still powered through traditional means. Until the transition is complete, we can’t afford to needlessly restrict the energy we need to live our lives, grow our economy and maintain the energy independence so important for our national security.
As global conflict, lingering impacts of the pandemic, and economic turmoil impact working families, we need stable and affordable energy more than ever. As we continue to develop new innovations and diversify our energy sector, we should ensure that trusted sources are allowed to continue to maintain stability and keep prices down. By renewing our five-year offshore leasing program and allowing our domestic energy production to boom, the President can deliver on his promise to build a better future for America.
The Midwest Council is an alliance of businesses throughout the Midwest. Its goal is to advance the Midwest by promoting the shared strengths and diverse economies of the region.