The new Biden infrastructure and energy plan is supposed to create “millions of new jobs.” But it is tantamount to a declaration of war against one of the largest sources of new jobs in the United States: our domestic energy producers.
It spoke volumes that when President Biden hosted an energy roundtable at the White House a few days ago, the reported list of invitees included the chief executives of many multinational corporations but not one all-American firm (the White House has declined to disclose the full list of invitees). Those multinationals — firms like BP, Chevron and Exxon — invest nearly as much overseas as they do here at home.
So much for putting America first.
America didn’t become the world’s largest energy exporter in recent years because of big conglomerates. It was “wildcatters,” with their hydraulic fracturing operations entirely situated within the United States, that nearly doubled domestic drilling. Such smaller enterprises don’t have complex “global footprints.”
As a White House economics adviser I used to discuss energy policy with then-President Donald Trump. I’d tell him that we should strive to make America “energy-independent,” but he would chastise me and insist: “I want to make America energy-dominant.”
Trump regularly relied for advice on groups like the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance. He consulted regularly with on-the-ground experts like Harold Hamm, the president of Continental Energy and the largest driller of the Bakken Shale in energy-rich North Dakota. As a result of this crusade for energy dominance, in Trump’s last month in the Oval Office, the United States for the first time in half a century imported zero oil from Saudi Arabia.
When America eliminated its dependency on foreign producers, it also lowered energy prices for the poorest Americans, with gas prices in many states falling to below $2 a gallon.
The quest for energy dominance also yielded massive job gains. The number of Americans directly employed by oil and gas producers hit 800,000 last year.
Those days — along with two-bucks-a-gallon gas — may be coming to an end. Biden and his media and technocratic allies view domestic energy production as a villain to vanquish. Even if they perceive its value, they are nevertheless prepared to sacrifice it on the altar of climate and “sustainability.” The left sees job losses in this industry as a small price to achieve its — insane — goal of zero carbon emissions by 2035.
That cavalier disregard for America’s blue-collar workforce isn’t what we were promised. As a presidential candidate, Biden vowed he wouldn’t push those workers into unemployment, and he even went so far as to endorse fracking. But then in his first days in office, he curtailed the Keystone Pipeline and banned more drilling on federal lands, where there are tens of trillions of dollars of energy resources.
The biggest winner in Biden’s new energy plan will be the Middle East. That’s mainly because the “clean-energy” solutions the left advocates can’t possibly come close to meeting our energy needs for the next several decades.
Today, more than 75 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels, and less than 7.5 percent comes from wind and solar power. Less than 2 percent of the cars on the road are electric vehicles. So if we don’t produce the oil and gas here, we are going to fill our tanks with oil and gas from the Middle East or Russia, enriching Mideast petro-despots and the Kremlin in the process.
Biden must stop treating our domestic oil and gas producers as the enemy of progress. Oil and natural gas power our computers, our cars and trucks, our factories, our furnaces, our cell phones — and all that encompasses our $22 trillion industrial economy. To “build back better,” let those producers be part of an “all-of-the-above” clean, cheap and reliable all-America energy policy.
Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at FreedomWorks, is author of “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on American Energy.”