Op eds

This op-ed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) first appeared in the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association Industry Report in March, 2022.

President Biden promised to “end fossil fuel,” and he spent much of 2021 crusading against an industry that sustains more than 300,000 Louisiana jobs, funds coastal restoration, and ensures Louisianians can keep their cars running and heaters on. Oil and gas are essential for our state and our country, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop President Biden from keeping his promise.

The President’s opening salvo was a ban on oil and gas leases on federal territories, which could have killed 48,000 Louisiana jobs by 2022 if a Louisiana judge hadn’t paused it—though the President has since appealed this decision in an attempt to keep his ban in place.

This moratorium still managed to do damage because it axed a planned oil-lease sale involving 78 million acres off Louisiana’s coast. President Biden claims climate change is the “number one issue facing humanity,” but his policy scrapped a sale that would send Louisiana millions of dollars to restore our vulnerable coasts.

I want to protect Louisiana’s jobs and coastline from the White House’s misguided agenda, so I introduced the Conservation Funding Protection Act to overturn President Biden’s drilling ban, even if it overcomes the court challenge. To stop the government from unilaterally imposing such moratoriums without first going through Louisiana’s elected representatives, I also helped introduce the POWER Act.

But President Biden isn’t content with drilling bans. His massive tax-and-spending plan would impose a $900 fee on oil and gas companies for each ton of methane they generate. The tax would start in 2023 and gets steeper from there. This would harm energy producers, the jobs they sustain, and consumers. According to some estimates, this tax means Americans’ natural average gas bills could rise by 17%.

The White House’s assault on reliable energy has helped drive up energy prices for Louisianians who just want to drive to work and heat their homes. In November, the average cost per gallon of regular gas in the U.S. hit a seven-year high. As of December 2021, Louisianians paid $3 per gallon of gas. That means that filling up a Chevy Silverado costs $31 more than it did a year ago.

While Louisianians feel the pinch of higher energy prices, the President’s agenda doesn’t attempt to combat climate change with any credibility. If President Biden wants to go green, he shouldn’t have lifted sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline—especially since he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline at the cost of 11,000 American jobs. If the President is serious about reducing pollution, he should stand up to global polluters. Under Xi Jinping’s regime, China’s emissions eclipse those of all of the world’s developed countries combined.

What’s more, the President cut domestic energy production and then tried to counter rising prices by pleading with the OPEC to pump more oil, as if emissions don’t count when they originate outside America.

The President’s appeal to OPEC reveals how much his policies have forfeited America’s energy independence. The truth is, the White House doesn’t need to beg foreign countries to increase the fuel supply when Louisianians are happy to help keep America’s lights on.

Louisiana produces more liquefied natural gas (LNG) than any other state. That production played a big part in turning America into the world’s third-largest LNG exporter, on track to becoming the largest in the world. Natural gas is also much cleaner than other fuels.

Boosting Louisiana’s LNG exports would create jobs here and lessen our European allies’ dependence on Russian energy, all while reducing emissions. In the first three months of 2021, America supplied almost a quarter of Europe’s LNG imports, making the U.S. Europe’s top supplier of LNG at that time. To reap more of these benefits for us and our allies, I helped introduce the Small Scale LNG Access Act to make exporting easier for small LNG producers and the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act to cut unnecessary regulations that limit the LNG trade.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I also brought an LNG Center of Excellence to Louisiana, which will bring industry expertise and jobs to Louisiana. That center is on its way, and I’ll fight to secure the funds it needs to help reclaim U.S. energy independence.

Our state provides America with almost a tenth of its oil and gas. In return, President Biden has targeted Louisiana’s economy. His war on fossil fuels is fatuous and naïve. It has also landed a gut punch to our workers and American consumers. I will never let the White House’s anti-energy agenda go unchallenged.