Lawmakers debate path to energy independence in face of skyrocketing gas prices

WASHINGTON D.C. — With gas prices skyrocketing around the country, members of Congress and the Biden administration are scrambling to get drivers relief at the pump.

Members of a Senate committee on Thursday discussed the path forward to energy independence and the need to cut down on our reliance on foreign oil.

“It is time for us to disarm Putin and other countries who have the ability to wield energy as a weapon and that includes supply chains or energy systems we rely on,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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Republicans blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the record high gas prices.

“Since day one, the president has sought to end American oil, natural gas and coal production,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “The geopolitical importance of US energy dominance cannot be overstated.”

Witnesses urged Congress to consider both the immediate challenges with our energy security and the long term challenges with climate change when deciding energy policy.

“It would be a mistake to view oil and gas production alone as a silver bullet for energy security,” said Jonathan Elkind, a senior research scholar with the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “We clearly need to change our oil and gas usage patterns dramatically to avoid the worst outcomes of climate change.”

We asked members of both parties about what should happen next for the U.S. to achieve energy independence and to give immediate relief at the pump.

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Republicans point to a need to increase domestic energy production.

“We’ve got to get American oil and gas companies, give them all the leeway so they can drill safely,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “Make sure we get things like the Keystone Pipeline reopened and finished.”

The Biden administration has been pushing for a transition to more renewable energy including getting more Americans into electric vehicles.

Democrats also said taxing oil companies more can translate to relief for drivers.

“We do this excess profits tax on the billions of dollars in profits that oil companies are making and those dollars then go into the pockets of consumers,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).