If the gas shortages plaguing the Southeast left you high and dry last week, buckle up. This is just a taste of our future under President Joe Biden’s energy policies.
Though these shortages were largely driven by panic buying, rather than by actual supply constraints due to the Colonial Pipeline hack, they demonstrate just how much energy—something the average American likely doesn’t think much about during their normal daily routine—defines our lives.
If the Green New Deal becomes a real deal, whether through Congress or by executive fiat (which is apparently Biden’s preferred strategy), gas shortages and skyrocketing prices at the pump are just the beginning.
If Biden succeeds, we can kiss energy independence goodbye. In 2019, the United States finally achieved the mission that founded the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1960s—freedom from dependence on foreign oil—when we became a net energy exporter. Just over 100 days into the Biden administration, our claim to that title is already fading.
Problems with just one pipeline led to a significant increase in oil imports; imagine how the global balance of power would shift if the federal government tried to recklessly shut down all U.S. fossil fuel production. We would once again become dependent on Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other unstable nations for our energy needs—ceding negotiation power, weakening our national security, and enabling irresponsible overseas producers with shoddy environmental and labor standards.
We could also expect the cost of living to rise dramatically. Consumer goods prices are already rising at the highest rate since the 2008 Great Recession, with inflation over 4 percent. An energy shortage would make inflation even worse—and affect the poorest Americans the most.
Low-income households—which represent nearly 44 percent of the American population—already spend nearly three times the percentage of their income on energy bills than non-low-income citizens. In some communities, energy burdens are as high as 30 percent of household income. Families struggling to make ends meet have less room in their budget to afford higher energy prices—or the resulting higher prices for everything we do.
Every product we use, from our smartphones to the food in our fridge to the clothes we wear, depends on energy. We don’t just need electricity to power manufacturing facilities and fuel for delivery trucks, planes, and farm equipment; the chemicals derived from oil and gas are also critical to our everyday lives. Petrochemicals including plastics, rubber, synthetic fabrics, inks and dyes, and more are the building blocks for nearly everything in the room around you right now—not to mention our health care facilities, technology and communication infrastructure, public safety and military systems, and more.
Ironically, if Biden’s so-called green energy agenda succeeds, we can also expect our environment to get worse, not better. While the media trumpets that the planet is dirty and getting dirtier—and that we’re to blame—America is leading the world in environmental protection. We have the cleanest air on record, with air pollution down 77 percent in the last 50 years (far safer to breathe than most other highly populated nations), and rank number one in the world for clean drinking water.
Wind turbines, solar panels, and electric cars might sound environmentally conscious, but these power sources are anything but. They rely heavily on mining (not for bitcoin, but for rare minerals) to produce parts that can rarely be recycled, instead piling up in landfills and leaching toxic chemicals all the while. And renewables produce a tiny fraction of energy per unit of land compared to fossil fuels. This low energy density means going 100 percent renewable would require clearing vast swaths of land, destroying private property and wildlife habitat. So much for “green.”
Wind and solar have proven decade after decade they are incapable of providing more than a tiny fraction of our energy, even after receiving tens of billions in subsidies funded by our tax dollars.
The gas shortages following the Colonial Pipeline hack should be a stark wake-up call to the Biden administration, whose ignorance of the numerous flaws of the Green New Deal agenda is a real threat to our economy, national security, and way of life.
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The Honorable Jason Isaac is director of Life:Powered, a national initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation to raise America’s energy IQ. He previously served four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.