Nov 18, 2021
Senate GOP Energy Prices Press Conference Transcript
Senate Republicans held a press conference on November 18, 2021 to address rising gas prices. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Senator McConnell: (00:12)
Well, good afternoon, everyone. The subject today is inflation. 90% of Americans believe inflation’s the number one problem in the country. Some on the other side have described this as transitory or easily dealt with. I think all the indicators are that it’s only going to get worse. Just to give you one tangible example.
Senator McConnell: (00:36)
In my state, three quarters of a million people in Kentucky depend on natural gas or propane to heat their homes this winter. For many of my constituents, this is a choice, in some cases, between putting food on the table and staying warm. This could not be a more challenging problem confronting America.
Senator McConnell: (01:02)
And as we all now know this was created by this administration by dumping almost two trillion on the economy, through the American Rescue Plan. And even the liberal economists who actually like what they’re trying to pass now, the reckless tax and spending spree, admit that on this issue, it will only make it worse.
Senator Barrasso: (01:27)
Well, Americans are, at this point of the year, having to make some tough decisions, hard decisions for American families. It’s whether they can afford to pay to eat or whether they can afford to pay to heat. That’s what they’re facing this winter. And this is a direct result of the policies of the Biden Administration.
Senator Barrasso: (01:45)
Yesterday, we had Senator Boozman who talked about the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner and how that’s going to be at an all time high. It’s even if you can get what you’re looking for. There was a front page story today in the New York Times, I think, about the shortage of pies for Thanksgiving dinner. But people have now been facing more and more problems with regard to energy. Throughout the summer and into the fall, they’ve been paying much more at the pump; about a dollar a gallon more for gasoline.
Senator Barrasso: (02:11)
So if you want to get to grandma’s house, that’s going to be tougher. But now as cold weather is coming in, it’s going to be much tougher to afford the cost of heating your home. And the administration says absolutely right, the heating costs are going up, but they have no solution to the problem. So we have here, what you’ll pay more this winter to heat your home in terms of propane, heating oil, natural gas.
Senator Barrasso: (02:37)
This is if we have expected increase. But if this winter is colder than expected, you’re talking about dramatic increases in the cost of propane, heating oil, and natural gas. And remember, half of all homes are in this country are heated with natural gas. Americans are going to be paying the price. So a television commentator asked and interviewed the secretary of energy, what she thought she could do about it, she laughed.
Senator Barrasso: (03:03)
She said it was a hilarious question. Hilarious. What could she do? What has the president been able to do? Well, he went to Glasgow, Scotland, and he basically begged OPEC+. And plus is Vladimir Putin and Russia to produce more energy. Mark my words, we are going to see this winter in the Boston Harbor, Russian tankers delivering energy to the United States because of the policies of this administration.
Senator Barrasso: (03:33)
And what is the administration going to do legislatively? Well, they have this massive tax and spending proposal out there, and it is the Green New Deal. With added regulations, added taxes, all the sorts of things that are going to drive up the cost of energy for the American public. The White House seems to think that’s okay because the White House Press Team has said that higher energy costs will drive the demand for renewables. No, it will drive the demand for lower energy cost.
Senator Barrasso: (04:05)
That’s what people need. That’s what modern life demands; affordable energy. As Republicans, we want to make sure that energy, we want to make energy and the cost, we want to make it as clean as we can, as fast as we can. We wanted to do it in ways that don’t hurt the American people and don’t increase the costs. That’s not what we’re getting from this administration. They don’t understand or accept the concept that we can protect the economy and we can protect the environment without punishing the economy, and punishing the American people at the same time.
Speaker 1: (04:49)
So we’re heading into lunch here. People back home in Alaska are just waking up. And if you’re waking up in Anchorage where my son is, the price of gas at the pump is $3.89 cents. The that’s probably the lowest you’re going to find. If you’re waking up in Fairbanks where my sister is, it’s about 20 below, already. Probably just a little bit colder than that.
Speaker 1: (05:15)
And it’s going to be cold all week. If you’re waking up in Antioch, you’re waking up to the reality that it’s not only cold and dark, but that the price that you pay to heat your home with stove oil is $6 a gallon. So this is a reality for Alaskans that they are facing every day when they wake up. And so when we see, as Senator McConnell has mentioned, the impact of inflation on the cost of everything else, that becomes part of their life.
Speaker 1: (05:49)
They’re looking forward to Thanksgiving just as we are here, but I’m told that it’s about a $300 dinner for a little bit of roast beef, or potatoes, or onions if you’re going to be welcoming your family in Utqiagvik. So, that’s a pretty tough happy Thanksgiving.
Speaker 1: (06:08)
The real problem that we’re facing here, and Senator Barrasso has referred to this, our problem is the sub apply here. And so when you have enacted policies, as this administration is, that only serve to reduce our domestic production, that’s a problem. The world is missing its swing producer right now; and that’s us. That’s the United States.
Speaker 1: (06:35)
So of course we’re seeing the prices soaring. The markets have turned from this expectation of abundance, to really, the fears of scarcity. So there’s a few things that we can actually do here. We can actually stop with the bad rhetoric, the bad policy, certainly. But let’s figure how we are working to keep our energy affordable.
Speaker 1: (07:01)
We can do this at the same time that we’re working to reduce our emissions. We can be responsible that way. But we know that supply side restrictions don’t work. We had a hearing earlier this week in energy. The easy answer is we just take from the strategic petroleum reserve. That’s going to solve it.
Speaker 1: (07:22)
There’s no easy, quick fix there. But we know that blocking needed energy infrastructure is not going to be helping us. So three things that we can do; drop the hostility against American energy producers. Just stop. Don’t try to put them out of business because that’s not going to help anybody invest in our country.
Speaker 1: (07:47)
Drop the harmful resource provisions that we see over on the house side, in this Reconciliation Bill; just get rid of them. Delete them. They look like they’re actually written by OPEC, anyway, take a look at them. And third, the administration needs to start-
Speaker 1: (08:03)
… take a look at it. And third, the administration needs to start moving and approving major projects, or at least expressing their support of them. And those of you that know the Alaskan cause know that we talk about the Willow Project up in the National Petroleum Reserve all the time. So you can start there, but we got some work to be doing together, but it starts with the right policies.
Senator Barrasso: (08:29)
When it comes to inflation, you don’t have to take our words for it. Just look at Larry Summers, look at Steve Rattner. Two leading democratic economists who’ve disagreed with the Federal Reserve when they characterize inflation as transitory, and now even the Biden administration is realizing they don’t know how long this surge in prices is going to last.
Senator Barrasso: (08:52)
I think it’s two things. One is, we worked together on a bipartisan basis to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. And we did everything we could to protect the public health and throw an economic lifeline to people who lost their jobs or needed some help to getting through the COVID-19 crisis. But now, our democratic colleagues are using this as an excuse to spend trillions and trillions more dollars that we don’t have, literally through throwing gas on the inflation fire and causing gas prices, for example, home heating prices go up 54% this year compared to last year.
Senator Barrasso: (09:36)
We also know, as you heard from Senator Barrasso and Senator Murkowski and will no doubt from others is that this is a result of bad policies, really targeting our fossil fuel companies, our oil and gas companies in Texas and elsewhere, and then coincidentally or not so coincidentally, calling on Vladimir Putin and OPEC to provide the oil, which is necessary to refine into gasoline to provide more supply, to bring the prices down. So this is a combination of bad policies when it comes to energy and pouring gas on the fire, so to speak, of inflation and making everyday commodities, like the things you buy at the grocery store, less affordable and making it harder and harder on people on fixed income, seniors and others, who have nowhere else to turn, but to pay these higher and higher prices.
Speaker 2: (10:33)
Thank you, John. Well, not only is this bad policy, but I think the key issue here, and we’d love it respectfully if you guys can ask the White House again, this is purposeful policy. This is purposeful policy. The White House isn’t a bunch of dummies. They are purposely driving up prices on Americans for energy. How do we know that? A, just listen to the rhetoric of Gina McCarthy and others, the czars, where they say that limited supply will increase prices and that will “accelerate the transition to renewables.” Go ask them. This is purposeful.
Speaker 2: (11:18)
The second reason we know it’s purposeful is just look at the policies. When you limit production of American energy, when you go to kill energy infrastructure like pipelines, when you go and strong arm the financial institutions of this country, which they’re doing, saying don’t invest in American energy, oh, by the way, definitely don’t invest in American energy in the Arctic, which is called Alaska. This is the result. You now have a comptroller of the currency nominee who has recently said, just a couple months ago in a seminar, part of the policy mix will be to put out of business small oil and gas producers.
Speaker 2: (11:58)
This is purposeful and it would be great if you guys could just blatantly ask the White House, are you trying to drive up energy prices on the backs of hardworking Americans? The answer is yes. Listen to the rhetoric. Look at their actions. And they’re very successful and their harming working class families. Here’s the final point. This administration is so out of touch with those families, you had the White House Chief of Staff recently tweet out saying, high energy prices, inflation is a “high class” problem. What the heck does that mean? The White House Press Secretary on these issues is starting to look like Baghdad, Bob. Some of you might remember him, during the first Gulf War. These issues are exploding all around the White House and they just ignore them, like there’s nothing happening to working families. The secretary of Energy has talked about releasing the strategic petroleum reserve. We have a much better idea. There’s something in Alaska called the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska. Tap that. That’s what Congress intended it for. Some of you were here two weeks ago when we laid out a common sense, all of the above energy plan that can actually reduce emissions, but play to our strengths, which is abundance in export technology, in clean burning American natural gas, all over the world. That would reduce global emissions while expanding job opportunities, helping our foreign policy. That’s the route we need to go. Not crushing American energy and hurting working families.
Senator Blunt: (13:47)
Well, we’re obviously going to repeat ourselves some, but let’s repeat Senator Sullivan’s point one time. The White House energy policies are working. What’s happening at energy cost at the gas pump or in your home heating is exactly what these policies would be designed to produce. There’s no other way to describe it. There’s no other way to explain it. People for several weeks now been dealing with the shock of what happens at the gas pump, where every time you go fill your car up with gas, you wonder if you’re going to set your own personal high that day. Is this going to be more than I’ve ever paid for gas before in my life? There’s nowhere in America where if you fill up a Ford F-150 pickup, it doesn’t cost $70. And there are a number of places in Missouri where you fill up that same pickup, it costs $100.
Senator Blunt: (14:36)
Where I live, a lot of people drive 30 and 40 miles to work one way, every day. And when you’re putting $70 or $75 in your truck every few days to make that happen, suddenly the money that you thought you were going to have, you don’t have anymore. And then the heating prices, you see what is happened already. And what we expect is what everybody says will happen if there’s a colder winter, but the first column is if the winter is just like last winter. I’ve lived in a house in the seventies where we actually decided which rooms of the house can’t we afford to heat this winter. We shut the door, we rolled up a rug, a throw rug and put it at the bottom of the door. And that door didn’t get opened the rest of the winter unless you had to go in that cold room to get something that you’d forgotten was left in there that you had to have. I’ve lived in that house.
Senator Blunt: (15:28)
People are seeing these things happen. The White House today, I heard on the radio driving in, has announced that they’re going to take American rescue plan money and give it to families to help pay for their heating bills. This is not a COVID-19 issue. This is their energy policy issue. The American rescue plan wasn’t designed to save the country from the Biden administration. It was designed to save the country from COVID.
Speaker 3: (15:59)
So on day one of the Biden administration, they started rolling out their plan for American-
Speaker 4: (16:03)
Day one of the Biden administration, they started rolling out their plan for American energy to be able to raise prices for American consumers, to drive people towards other energy sources that they’ve pre-selected. Day one, they announced they’re going to stop the Keystone pipeline, which is not just Canadian oil coming. It’s also coming in from Montana. They’re going to stop leasing of federal lands, and they aggressively started doing the work to work behind the scenes to shut down the access to capital to anyone who wanted to be able to loan or give money to any entity that wants to expand pipelines.
Speaker 4: (16:32)
They put out the threat immediately about any permits, any regulatory help to be able to do anything with pipelines or expanding anything with fossil fuels. John Kerry has recently announced that we’re going to be done with coal by 2030, which may be a shock to a lot of folks that actually have coal-fired plants that are extended out for their life [inaudible 00:16:51] for the next 30, 40 years, that the administration is intentionally looking to be able to end that in nine years. But it’s not stopped but just raising the prices on the United States and on Americans citizens.
Speaker 4: (17:02)
Now they’re trying to deal with the political consequences of what’s going on, and so in a horrible foreign policy conversation, now Biden is talking about cutting off any kind of export of natural gas to any of our other countries. What will occur with that? They’ll go to Russia to be able to get that natural gas, not to the United States, increasing in Europe for Russia, which is a terrible geopolitical decision again. And it will put out the immediate threat that the Americans can’t be trusted for energy policy, so don’t trust them long term.
Speaker 4: (17:32)
The effect of that is raising the prices over there. It will continue to be able to hurt American producers that are here and will continue to be able to kill American jobs and increase Russian jobs again, as this administration seems to be dead set in doing whatever it can to help the Russian economy with their pipelines and with their contracts in Europe but hurting American producers at the same time. This is crushing the American economy in many ways, and it’s crushing the American consumer. But it is absolutely by design to try to force people into using solar, wind, other things that are unreliable.
Speaker 4: (18:09)
Unless you think that this has just ended and it’s just the White House, just today in the Energy and Natural Resources hearing today, there were multiple bills that were brought up for a vote that passed on a partisan vote today to continue to disallow the expansion of oil and gas leasing and new properties today. And though the conversation was, shouldn’t we think about, at some point, how we’re going to deal with American energy, they just passed them right on and continued to be able to vote here today to be able to knock out American energy production on federal land still. This will be an issue, and as Americans pay more in Oklahoma for heating their homes this summer and this winter, as they pay for all that hot water tank and everything else, as they pay for their gas in their truck and their vehicle, this is a big issue for a lot of folks. And as they try to talk about the strategic petroleum reserve and releasing that for a few weeks to lower price, that is about short-term political gain, not actually helping the consumer long term in American jobs.
Speaker 2: (19:13)
Yesterday, we were here talking about the impact of inflation on food prices that you’re seeing across the country. Today, the focus is on energy, but it’s all intertwined. We’re seeing this across the economy, all goods and all services, and that’s impacting everybody on a daily basis, no matter what they’re doing. And we’ve given you some of the statistics. For example, in my state average price of a gallon of gas has gone from just over $2 to now well over $3. Natural gas prices have almost tripled since the beginning of the year.
Speaker 2: (19:47)
And so we’re seeing it across the board, and that is a tax on every single American, every single day that they’re paying. That’s the reality. And it is the policies of this administration that’s causing it. You can’t come in on day on and start shutting down pipelines or setting up a moratorium on leasing on federal lands and federal waters and taking those kind of steps of increasing regulation and making it more difficult to produce energy here at home. You can’t do those things and not drive up energy prices, and that’s exactly what this administration is doing.
Speaker 2: (20:27)
And then amazingly, amazingly, they take the sanctions off Nord Stream 2 and allow Russia to bring natural gas into Europe and turn around and ask our adversaries, countries like Russia and the countries at OPEC, to produce more oil while you’re trying to suppress that energy production here in our country. I mean, it absolutely defies common sense. And of course, now what the administration and our colleagues across the aisle in Congress are working on is a big tax-and-spend plan the will add to this inflation problem. Think about it. More tax, more spend, more regulation is going to just drive inflation even further.
Speaker 2: (21:14)
And so they’re saying, well, look, with this tax-and-spend bill, gee, nobody that makes less than $400,000 is going to have to pay more tax. It’s just the people that make more than $400,000 are going to have to pay more tax. Well, the fact is inflation is a tax on every American, every single day in every product they buy. And who does it hit the hardest? The people with low income. It hits them the hardest. It’s the wrong policy. It’s the wrong approach. We need to go back to empowering the people that produce energy in this country. They do it better than anyone in the world, and they do it with the best environmental stewardship. And that was the track we were on before this administration came in with the kind of policies that are preventing that, and we need to get back to the right approach.
Speaker 5: (22:09)
I hope the White House is listening today. Inflation is no laughing matter. Rising energy prices, Madam Secretary, is no laughing matter. Rising energy prices creates social inequities. They are a social injustice, and they’re certainly not a laughing matter. I want to bring this home and talk about propane just for a second. Rural America is powered on propane. It’s what we use to heat our homes, to heat our water, to cook our food on. I had my propane tank filled on our very modest three-bedroom, one-bathroom home. About a 1,500-square-foot home was filled this week. When you fill a tank with propane, it’s a 500-gallon tank. It’s about 10 foot long, maybe four foot across. Last year, I paid $1.10 a gallon. Yesterday, I paid $2.15 A gallon, so it went from $1.10 to $2.15 a gallon. Last year, I filled my propane tank for $550. Yesterday, it cost me $1,275. If we have a modest winter, that propane will get us through maybe February or March.
Speaker 5: (23:26)
I want to talk about propane a little further. Propane is made from crude oil or natural gas, and anything that affects the supply of crude oil or natural gas to get to the refiner is going to drive the price of that up. I hope that makes sense. Dr. Barrasso and I went to medical school. We didn’t get PhDs in economics, but my college track coach taught me Econ 101. And what he said is the supply goes down. The price is going to go up. Why does this White House want to drive the prices up? Think about their policies that are driving the price up. Number one’s going on back home. We can’t get-
Speaker 5: (24:03)
Driving the price up. Number one’s going on back home, we can’t get financing to drill. Folks that have been in the drilling industry, natural gas oil for decades, for over a half a century, can’t get financing now because of this administration’s ESG rules.
Speaker 5: (24:17)
Beyond that, they’re setting up rules to make it harder to build new pipelines. They’re making next to impossible to drill offshore. They’re making it next to impossible to drill on government lands. There’s not a person in America that can set up here and look you in the eye and say that does not decrease the supply of energy. And when you decrease the supply of energy, it’s going to drive the cost up. It’s just that simple.
Speaker 5: (24:40)
Last winter, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas had a large winter storm called Uri, Winter Storm Uri. Winter Storm Uri claimed hundreds of lives. Most of those people were on the margins, right? Another social inequity, another social injustice created by policies. And that’s what’s going to happen this winter, we’re going to have brown outs. There’s going to be a decrease of supply of energy creating brown outs. People are going to die, thousands of people will die this winter because of this White House’s energy policies. That’s a social injustice, it’s social inequity. Madam Secretary, rising energy prices are not a laughing matter.
Speaker 1: (25:29)
Now you’ve heard from all of us, and this is simple. Folks, this is very simple. It’s the basic fundamentals of the economy. When President Biden on day one came in and shut down that pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline that reduced our supply. And then he halted the leases on oil and gas. Then he turns around and he looks at Russia and OPEC and says, come save us, please come and fill that void for us. That’s how we got here.
Speaker 1: (25:59)
We are all trying to give you a winner forecast, and to my knowledge of us are meteorologists. So the winter forecast that we’re giving you is devastation. When you look at these numbers of propane up 54%, heating oil up 43%, natural gas up 30%. This is a forecast of disaster. And as Americans are bracing for these higher prices, the Democrats are doubling down on their efforts to totally shut down American energy production. Thank you for being here and thank you for listening to all of us.
Senator Barrasso: (26:39)
Happy to take some questions, Leanne.
Is this a reason not to do a long term CR since LIHEAP funding will stay the same in a continuing resolution when it’s obviously going to be much more needed this year?
Senator Barrasso: (26:53)
That’s not figured in any of this component. What we’re focusing on is now the cost of energy that people are getting hit with all across the country. We need to fund the government, the deadline there is December 3rd. This is a focus on the fact that this administration is intentionally shutting down American energy, making energy more expensive to help drive a need for renewables. This is a manipulation of the economy and causing pain for American people as a result. Alex.
Senator, what do you think about President Biden calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil and gas companies are participating in legal conduct to keep the price of oil and gas higher than it should be?
Senator Barrasso: (27:30)
Whenever energy prices have been up in the past, this is a tradition of presidents to do that, and it’s not going to have any impact. They’re not going to find that happening. What they’re going to find is if the President actually looked in the mirror, he would see he’s the cause of this starting day one when he drew a target on the back of American energy and pulled the trigger. Yes-
Speaker 2: (27:47)
John, can I?
Senator Barrasso: (27:48)
Speaker 2: (27:49)
So I think the one issue there is you’re looking at kind of what was stated earlier, kind of political actions to show that he’s doing something. The SPR is one, They’re talking about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, this is the second one. But the President in his town hall meeting on CNN actually said, hey, immediate term, there’s not much we can do. That’s actually 100% wrong. All the policies that we have just talked about that they implemented on day one, if started to reverse those, that would have an impact that would be very, very important. So it’s the actions that they need to take to reverse their current policies, not political theater. The FTC, I guarantee you, some White House advisor, well this will look good like you’re doing something Mr. President. It’s not. It’s not going to do a thing. Neither is the SPR. The energy experts say Strategic Petroleum Reserve, maybe two weeks small increase in price.
Speaker 2: (28:49)
What they need to do is reverse these policies that we have been talking about, that they have implemented from day one. And we’re not even answering the question why, they’re driven by the radical far left of the party. And they’re trying to drive up prices on American energy and American families, and I really think it’s important that people just ask them the question, is this purposeful.
Senator Barrasso: (29:16)
Speaker 6: (29:16)
Thank you Senator. Senator Blunt brought this up earlier, the four and a half billion from the American Rescue Plan that the administrations trying to get that out to the states is for LIHEAP. I just want to ask you in terms of impact, what real world impact would it have here?
Senator Blunt: (29:30)
Well, it has no real world impact there. What it does is help LIHEAP recipients pay the bill. I’ve always been a LIHEAP supporter, we need to be moving on the Appropriations Bill. I think the fact that we’ve spent so much time focusing on the bill that will have a lot of things that make these problems worse, have prevented us from having the oxygen necessary in the Senate and the House to get to the bill that would adequately fund a fund that’s going to need more money this winter than it needed last winter. But it doesn’t need it, I don’t think, between now and December 31st or sometime in January. But clearly we’re going to begin to see huge problems for LIHEAP eligible families.
Speaker 7: (30:12)
[inaudible 00:30:12] Prime Minister Trudeau’s in Washington meeting with President Biden today. What message should he have for President Biden regarding the Line 5 pipeline, which the Trudeau government has really firmly defended.
Senator Barrasso: (30:24)
Well, we are on the side of the pipelines, the pipelines from Canada and the United States that this administration has basically thumbed its nose at and attack. So we’re supporting what the Canadian folks want to do. It’s energy that we need. And I did see that, at least was reported this morning, that the President was not going to engage the press or even talk to the American people about what was a result of that discussion with the Prime Minister.
Speaker 5: (30:50)
Could I add to that [crosstalk 00:30:51]-
Senator Barrasso: (30:50)
Yeah. Go ahead.
Speaker 5: (30:51)
So 55% of the propane that Michigan uses comes through that pipeline and is the lifeblood for rural Michiganders, right? And we all want to leave this world cleaner, healthier, safer than we found it. That pipeline was a very special pipeline, it’s triple thickness. They’re able to go in there, I envision, like doing a colonoscopy and examine the integrity of that pipeline. I think they need to do everything possible to make sure that that pipeline is intact, that it are functional, that it’s safe. They’re doing so many things in the pipeline industry now to make them even safer with probably 95% less leakage than ever before. It’s a crime shame, what it’s going to do to impact those people in rural Michigan. Thank you.
Senator Barrasso: (31:32)