Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Lawmakers to grill Biden’s energy secretary over energy costs, regulations



Lawmakers will grill President Joe Biden’s Energy secretary at a newly announced oversight hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is expected to face lawmakers for questions amid elevated gas prices, a depleted strategic petroleum reserve, and ongoing criticism of Biden’s energy policies.

According to AAA, the average national price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is $3.60 per gallon, down slightly in recent weeks but up from the same time last year. The average price for a gallon of gas when Biden took office was about $2.40 nationally.

“Under Secretary Granholm’s leadership, the Department of Energy has implemented radical policies and unchecked regulations in an effort to wage a war against American-made energy production and cement far-left Green New Deal priorities,” U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who chairs the committee holding the hearing, said in a statement.

International conflicts during Biden’s term have exacerbated the problem. Russia is a major energy exporter, but its invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions have complicated global energy markets.

At the same time, a potential expansion of the Israel-Hamas war into a broader Middle East conflict could significantly impact gas prices.

While gas prices are elevated, they are below the all-time record average of over $5 per gallon of unleaded gasoline seen earlier in Biden’s term. To respond to those prices, Biden released a large portion of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, meant for emergencies like a war or national disaster.

Now, the reserves are at the lowest point in decades.

“It’s clear the Department of Energy has been operating behind closed doors for far too long and it has left Americans in the dark about the Department’s misuse of our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, pause on liquified natural gas exports, and increased spending levels,” Comer said. “The Oversight Committee is prepared to shine a light on the Biden Administration’s disastrous policies and will continue to work to hold Secretary Granholm accountable.”

Energy prices overall have risen markedly since Biden took office and have helped fuel the spike in inflation during his term.

Last week, the Biden administration proposed blocking new coal mines on federally owned lands in Powder River Basin, a major coal-producing region in the U.S.

Biden immediately took fire for that proposal, the latest effort to curtail domestic energy production as the White House cites climate change concerns.

“The Biden administration continues to attack domestic energy production and make America weaker and more reliant on foreign energy sources,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, wrote on X in response to the announcement. “Electricity prices have risen by 30% since Biden took office. So why is he reversing a Trump land use decision? Because this administration is more focused on appeasing radical environmentalists than creating pragmatic policy.

“We desperately need a change in administration and a return to the Trump policies that ensured American had access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy,” he added.

All these concerns will likely come up during the Congressional hearing.

Biden has also taken fire for pausing issuing permits for new natural gas export sites at the beginning of this year. A coalition of two dozen states sent a letter to the Biden administration blasting his decision and calling it unlawful. A group of about 150 Republicans expressed similar concerns.

The committee’s announcement of the hearing suggested that topic would be front and center as well.

“The Committee has ongoing investigations into the Biden Administration’s pause on new liquified natural gas export permits, Secretary Granholm’s summer 2023 electric vehicle road trip, jet-setting activities of the Special Envoy for Climate Office, creation of the American Climate Corps, historic depletion of the SPR, and burdensome and expensive EPA rulemakings,” the Republican-led committee said in its announcement.