Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) reiterates his calls for the United States to increase its energy production after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia (OPEC+) made the decision to cut its own production.
Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the cost of gasoline and other energy sources to consumers has increased substantially.
Republicans blamed the rising costs squarely on Biden’s “un-American” domestic energy policies.
During his tenure, Biden made significant changes to President Donald Trump’s energy policies, which led to America becoming energy independent for the first time in decades. Biden, who pledged during his campaign to “get away from the fossil fuel industry,” wasted no time in halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and imposing a moratorium on leasing federal land to foreigners. natural gas and oil companies.
In an effort to rein in prices, Biden made the decision in November 2021 to withdraw millions of barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency energy reserve intended for use in times of war or calamity. world.
Mitigating the effects of Biden’s climate and energy policies is OPEC+ collusion and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of which have led to further cost increases.
‘Blessed with Abundance’
Republicans have long been critical of these policies, and Republicans have made energy costs a key campaign point. In the past, Manchin has made it clear that he largely agrees with Republicans on the issue and has long called on the White House to change course.
Now, Manchin is reiterating those calls in light of an OPEC+ decision to drastically cut production.
On the morning of October 5, OPEC+ announced that it would cut oil production by two million barrels per day, a production chunk that will have tangible consequences for American consumers.
In its statement announcing the sharp decline in production, OPEC+ cited “uncertainty surrounding the global economic and oil outlook.” The announcement marks the largest oil production cut by OPEC+ since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biden administration immediately issued a statement on the announcement, expressing disappointment and calling the change “short-sighted” given the ongoing energy crisis in Europe and the diplomatic crisis over Russia’s invasion of China. ‘Ukraine.
Manchin took a different approach, reiterating his support for increasing US energy production.
“Today’s announcement from OPEC+ confirms why the United States must be independent and energy secure so that we cannot be bullied by foreign adversaries,” Manchin told Fox News.
“We are blessed with an abundance of domestic energy resources, which we can produce cleaner than anywhere else in the world, and with that we have the ability to provide energy independence and security for ourselves and our allies.”
Manchin then called on Congress to resume fossil fuel permit reform as part of the effort to speed up the US energy sector.
Currently, licensing new fossil fuel companies is a years-long process. Manchin called for reforming that process now, as US consumers continue to face high gas prices and Europe braces for a full-blown energy crisis this winter. The reforms pushed by Manchin would dramatically reduce the time it takes for new fossil fuel companies to be certified and operational.
Last month, Manchin pushed to include those reforms in the must-have interim spending bill.
In a bid to win Manchin’s crucial backing for the $700 billion Inflation Cut Act earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) pledged that the reform authorizations would be put to a vote.
Although the deal was controversial among Democrats — it was decried in an impassioned speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and openly opposed by dozens of House progressives — it was ultimately Republicans who rejected the measure.
Republicans, anxious not to allow the deal, declined to support the interim bill if it included the reform authorization. The minority party succeeded and the Interim Spending Bill passed without allowing the reforms.
Speaking in light of the OPEC+ decision, Manchin renewed his calls for increased US oil and energy production.
“This announcement should serve to further motivate my colleagues in Congress to come to the table to enact comprehensive, bipartisan reform to reduce our dependence on these foreign nations,” Manchin told Fox News.
In the past, Manchin has joined Republicans in calling on Biden to restart construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and end his moratorium on federal oil and natural gas leases.
As Democrats brace for a tough midterm battle, where observers expect Democrats to lose at least one chamber of Congress, the OPEC+ announcement could be bad news.
In recent months, gasoline prices – one of the main indicators of the vote for the moderates – have started to fall from their zenith at the start of the year.
But less OPEC+ oil, at a time when the United States is also tapping far less of its own reserves than in the past, will almost certainly mean higher prices at the pump. Higher prices, in turn, could mean worse outcomes for Democrats. It remains to be seen how Democrats and the administration will react to that decision as the home stretch of the midterm season begins.