By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing Wednesday to consider investing more in renewable energy sources amid soaring gas prices and international tension over the global energy supply.
“At a time when American energy costs are tied to the whims of dictators like Vladimir Putin, our hearing today will explore how our nation can promote American energy security by facilitating investments and innovation in climate solutions,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who chairs the committee.
Whether experts supported bolstering fossil fuels or going all-in on renewable energy, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has strengthened calls for increased domestic energy production as a national security issue.
“As secretary, it quickly became very apparent that that overreliance on traditional energy sources was a national security vulnerability,” said Raymond Mabus, former secretary of the Navy. “That is why I moved the Navy and Marines off much of their use of fossil fuels as a warfighting measure.”
Critics have said the green energy technology is not yet ready to support a full transition, however, and that the U.S again can become energy independent without the Biden administration’s obstructions. They also point to the lost jobs from cutting oil and gas production, which serves as a primary employer in many parts of the country.
At the same time, Americans are feeling the pain at the pump with gas prices reaching new highs in recent weeks and inflation rising at the highest rate in decades.
“If current policies now considered by the U.S. and Europe continue, it is likely that global oil and natural gas prices will continue to stay high, and could go far higher,” said Mark Mills, an energy expert at the Manhattan Institute.
Recent polling from Rasmussen Reports suggests Americans expect to pay even more for gas in the months to come.
“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 78% of American adults say they’re paying more for a gallon of gas today compared to six months ago, and 84% think it’s likely those prices will continue to climb over the next six months,” Rasmussen said. “This includes 64% who think it’s very likely they’ll be paying even more for a gallon of gas in six months than they are today.”
Sen. Carper and other Democrats have pointed to electric vehicles as part of the solution to fossil fuel reliance, but other Rasmussen polling shows Americans are not excited about going electric.
“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 32% of American Adults believe electric cars today are practical for most drivers,” the group said. “Fifty-two percent (52%) think electric cars aren’t practical, while 16% say they’re not sure.”
Wednesday’s hearing came after the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week proposed a new regulation that would require companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions and how they are responding to climate change.
“Stymied legislatively at every turn by his own political party, the Biden administration is resorting to unelected agencies to implement their green agenda on an unwilling country,” said Daniel Turner, founder and executive director for Power The Future. “This proposed rule is as unenforceable as it is insane. Punishing industries for consumer use of their products would not only discourage output, it would inevitably lead to higher prices for everyday customers.
“It’s the latest in a disturbing pattern of behavior from an administration who wants to attack and demonize rather than empower and encourage the private sector who will drive us out of the economic morass they have created,” he added.
Oil and gas industry executives say fossil fuels are necessary to meet basic human needs.
“While those ascribing to the orthodoxy that climate change can only be solved through top-down government policies that eliminate fossil fuels may wish to deny our role, the reality is that we are a vital partner in any real attempt to address climate change,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance. “Simply put, the energy we provide is too vital to the well-being of humanity to be eliminated. In the absence of alternatives that do everything oil and natural gas do, eliminating them would subjugate humanity to a grim future of scarcity where basic human needs are not met.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.