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Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson: The Lower Energy Costs Act restores American agriculture

Food security is national security

The Washington Times
By Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15)

Before President Joe Biden took office, America was the largest energy producer in the world, and oil and gas—the raw materials for vital farm inputs from diesel fuel to fertilizer production—were abundant and affordable. During the first week of the Biden Administration, the President enacted two executive orders that stifled the development and expansion of American energy resources. These executive orders halted new oil and gas leases on federal lands and offshore waters and revoked the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, respectively.

By tightening methane standards and proposing to increase climate disclosure requirements, the EPA and SEC have knee-capped innovation in the oil and gas sector on the regulatory front as well. In other words, the Biden Administration—in just over two years—effectively waged a war on our domestic energy capabilities, having all but eliminated the financial incentive for domestic energy producers to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure. As a result, American consumers are seeing increased demand and higher prices for conventional liquid fuels and their byproducts. 

For example, the average cost of diesel fuel per gallon in 2020 was $2.551. In 2022, the cost of diesel rose by 95% to $4.989 a gallon, ultimately reaching a record high of $5.816 by the summer. Additionally, fertilizer prices increased 125% from January 2021 to January 2022 and continued to break records throughout 2022, which largely affected farm profitability, food prices, and the costs of consumer products.

As Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and proud Representative from Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District, I am no stranger to the challenges facing America’s energy industry and its direct impact on farming communities. In fact, the Commonwealth showcases the nexus between energy and agriculture production each and every day. Pennsylvania is home to the Marcellus Shale and America’s first commercial oil well—both responsibly developed resources that provided energy affordability to generations of Americans and transformed the U.S. into a global economic powerhouse—and our state’s largest industry is agriculture. Just like any other region of the country, the viability of our ag sector is reliant upon access to abundant and affordable energy resources. 

By gambling away American energy independence and domestic oil and gas production in the name of climate change, the Biden Administration has harmed the very industry—U.S. agriculture—that contributes to 13% of our annual greenhouse gas sequestration. The hardworking men and women who feed and fuel our nation and the world are, in reality, climate heroes. Even still, the Administration has continued to take irrational regulatory and policy actions that foster uncertainty and limit our ability to meet the food, fiber, and energy demands of our nation and the world.

This is why House Republicans, through our Commitment to America, remain steadfast in our promises to make gas, groceries, and other basic necessities affordable for working families. Under Speaker McCarthy’s leadership, House Republicans introduced H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, which aims to provide a reprieve for America’s families, including our farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have struggled with fractured supply chains, skyrocketing input costs, and historic levels of inflation, all of which were exacerbated by excessive spending and regulatory overreach from Washington.

H.R. 1 increases domestic energy affordability by resuming responsible development of our domestic energy resources, and it reverses anti-energy policies advanced by the Administration, including the rescission of the $27 billion Environmental Protection Agency’s slush fund for green-related projects. This legislation reforms our broken permitting process to ensure America can build the infrastructure necessary to support robust commerce and transport of goods. The bill also reforms our federal environmental review process to develop America’s vast critical mineral resource potential, ensuring we are less reliant on foreign countries for inputs that are essential to agriculture and so many U.S. industries. 

American agriculture, if given the right tools and regulatory certainty, can serve a vital role in alleviating global food instability and mitigating costs for consumers. H.R. 1 provides this certainty and will deliver long-lasting relief for nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.

As I’ve always said, food security is national security. We need dependable local power generation, adequate infrastructure, a strong workforce, and lower energy costs for farm operations to remain viable. It’s time we return to embracing American energy, not abandon it, and in doing so, enable America’s agriculture sector to thrive. House Republicans made a commitment to an economy that is strong. Through H.R. 1, we are upholding that promise.

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) is Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.