Guest Column submitted by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)
President Joe Biden gave an early Christmas present to one of the worst human rights abusers in the world: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and his regime.
Easing sanctions on Venezuela is bad energy policy for America. It’s bad foreign policy. It’s bad environmental policy.
Biden’s giveaway is terrible for American energy producers and consumers. The United States has some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. We don’t need to go begging to anyone – least of all to a tin pot dictator who supports Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Rather than paying other countries for energy, we should produce more energy here at home. If Democrats in Washington stop their war on American energy, American workers will benefit, prices will go down, and our economy will grow stronger.
A few years ago, Biden promised that he would "end fossil fuels." More recently he vowed "no more drilling." He’s not kidding. Over the last two years, Biden has done everything he can to shut down domestic production.
On his first day in office, the president killed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have brought 800,000 barrels of oil a day to this country. He halted leasing for oil and natural gas production on federal land until a federal court intervened. He strangled exploration near the Arctic and off of our coasts.
This administration leased the fewest acres of federal land for energy production since World War II. Their attacks on energy investment also mean we are now producing roughly 2 million fewer barrels of oil per day than we were projected to produce this year.
In just two years, Democrats have raised taxes and fees on American natural gas and domestic energy production. They have allowed our energy workers to be sidelined by miles of government red tape.
When the president is not pleading with dictators for oil, he is raiding the nation’s strategic oil reserve – the very oil reserve Republicans tried to refill in 2020 and congressional Democrats bragged about blocking. Thanks to the president and Democrats, our emergency energy reserve is now at the lowest level in 40 years. This makes us more vulnerable to energy and national security emergencies.
American families are paying the price and feeling the pain from Democrats’ energy policies. Gas prices have broken records under Biden, and they’re still nearly 50% higher than the day he took office. Millions of Americans have fallen behind on their energy bills, and winter is about to drive prices even higher.
Paying off the Maduro regime is also terrible foreign policy. Maduro is an indicted narco-terrorist. He is responsible for a migration crisis that sent 300 Venezuelans flooding our southern border every single day last month.
Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America. Today, it is one of the poorest. This is thanks to the socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.
The Biden Administration needs a serious answer to the migration crisis. We need to stop Maduro’s trafficking of illicit narcotics that continue to kill Americans here at home. The answer is certainly not to buy their oil and prop up the regime that caused the crisis.
The Biden administration is going above and beyond to boost Venezuela’s oil production by stifling production in Guyana, a strong American partner in South America. Guyana struck liquid gold when it discovered an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil on its shores – a big boost to the nation’s struggling economy and for democracy in the region. However, last year the Biden administration blocked a developmental loan to upgrade Guyana’s oil export infrastructure. Absent U.S. investment, communist China now is asserting its influence over Guyana’s oil industry.
Democrats say their policies are all about protecting the environment. The Biden administration’s Venezuela payoff is terrible environmental policy.
America produces energy in a cleaner and safer way than any other country in the world. Our emissions from energy are 18% below the 2005 level, even while producing more oil and natural gas. The amount of gas flaring per barrel of oil produced in the U.S. is among the lowest in the world and 18 times lower than in Venezuela. Buying energy from Venezuela is a lot worse for our environment than producing it here in America.
None of the Democrats’ excuses add up. The only responsible way to bring down energy prices is to produce more energy right here in the United States – not reward the socialist allies of Vladimir Putin.
For the sake of our energy workers, working families struggling to pay the bills, our national security, and millions of suffering Venezuelans, it is time for the Biden administration to reverse course. President Biden should champion American energy instead of funding brutal dictatorships.
Sen. Jim Risch is ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. John Barrasso is ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.