Following one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, Americans nationwide spent more on gasoline compared to years past to reach their holiday destinations. Back in Washington, President Biden faces growing political pain from high gas prices and has proposed a "holiday" of his own in the form of a temporary reprieve from the federal gas tax.
Will saving drivers 18 cents a gallon for a short period of time help? Perhaps, a little bit, but there’s much more President Biden can do to ensure lower energy prices over the long term for American families and small businesses. Here are five things the Biden administration could do right now.
1. The U.S. should produce as much energy as we can at home.
While the president says he favors American oil and gas production, his administration has made it more difficult by limiting energy leases on federal lands.
Additionally, the Department of the Interior just announced the highly anticipated five-year offshore leasing plan, however, the announcement sends more mixed signals with one potential outcome resulting in no lease sales.
Today, about one in four barrels of U.S-produced oil comes from federal lands and waters.
By greenlighting production in the Gulf of Mexico alone, the U.S. economy could have access to an additional 2.6 million barrels of oil and natural gas, helping to lower prices and providing greater energy security.
2. The administration should avoid targeting energy companies with new tax plans.
The energy industry is currently less profitable than the communications and real estate sectors, but the White House continues to encourage Congress to levy heavy taxes on energy producers in the form of a Windfall Profits Tax.
The same approach by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 only served to reduce U.S. energy production. In the end, a new energy tax only hurts consumers, including small businesses.
3. The administration should support infrastructure projects such as pipelines that help move energy supplies to market faster and safer.
The president famously canceled the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, a project that would have provided more than enough Canadian oil to replace Russian imports.
As the world’s top producer of natural gas, we should look for ways to strengthen our energy infrastructure, including building more export capacity for liquefied natural gas. The administration can do this by speeding the federal review process and cutting red tape.
4. The president should lean into America’s vast supplies of natural gas by fast-tracking projects that can help meet customer demand.
With officials already warning consumers about summer blackouts, now is the time to take advantage of what natural gas offers for power production. A streamlined review and permitting process capped at one year could get natural gas projects online faster to strengthen grid integrity.
5. We should take energy security into our own hands.
Let’s not rely on bad actors or foreign rivals. Instead of pursuing more American energy production, the president has solicited help from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. With some of the world’s largest reserves of fossil fuels, the U.S. can build an economy more resilient to geopolitical turmoil and help our allies in the process.
The solutions for abundant, affordable energy are right in front of us.
Now is the time for the Biden administration to get smart, and to act.
Karen Kerrigan is president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.