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Sunday, November 28, 2021

House Democrats and rising energy prices

With great excitement, House Democrats on the Government Oversight and Reform committee recently announced they will conduct a hearing on October 28th focused on climate change. It will feature senior leaders from BP, Chevron, Shell, Exxon, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce.

It’s not clear why the Democrats are excited about this hearing; the timing could not be worse.

Their intent is to harangue oil companies and the Chamber about climate change, which no one outside of the Democratic donor ecosystem cares about. Moreover, multiple surveys have made it clear that approximately no one is willing to pay anything to address climate change.

Unfortunately for Democrats, however, the hearing is much more likely to wind up highlighting rising energy prices, which just about everyone – including Team Biden — cares about. Just last week, it was reported that senior officials in the Biden Administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and climate czar Gina McCarthy, have had conversations and meetings with oil and gas industry executives about how best to restrain price increases.

That seemed odd, given that the administration has spent its entire time in office trying to … increase the cost of energy. One would think that those who say climate change is an existential threat (like Team Biden) would welcome higher prices for oil and natural gas. Of course, the reality is that higher energy prices are politically and economically toxic, especially for folks like the Biden Administration.

If the House Democrats have a hearing about climate change while energy prices are rising (gasoline prices are the highest in a decade,  the cost of natural gas has doubled since the administration has been in office), they will look like the out-of-touch apparatchiks they are.

On the other hand, if they change the focus to rising and damaging energy prices, the administration and Democratic donors will be angry. The good news is that the Democrats on the committee include rational and calm people like Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, and Rashida Tlaib. That line-up pretty much ensures that the progressives will drive the train over the cliff.

It’s still possible that the Chamber will rescue the Democrats. When asked about the hearing, their spokesmodel played right along with the progressives and said: “We look forward to discussing the Chamber’s work to forge bipartisan solutions to our climate challenge.” Really? It would be better if the Chamber talked about how high energy prices damage the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and local institutions like schools and hospitals the most.  

Finally, last week the Energy Information Administration warned that households that warm their homes with natural gas (about half of them) can expect to spend as much as 50% more on their bills this winter than last year.

We rarely encourage anyone to pay attention to the kabuki that is Congressional hearings. This one is an exception. Everyone should watch the show.

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