Tackling Inflation Requires Clarity on Energy

In an op-ed for RealClearEnergy, Brigham McCown, the former Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and a strategic advisor to the GAIN Coalition, penned an op-ed examining how economic and security challenges  have extended to the energy sector. As energy production remains below pre-pandemic levels, the price of natural gas has doubled since the beginning of the year, due in large part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

McCown advocates for  an all-of-the-above approach  to meet demand rather than focusing on one aspect of the energy sector. In order to address inflation and reduce geopolitical risk caused by Russia’s weaponization of energy in Europe, the U.S. must invest in a mix of energy that best fits America’s needs. 

The high prices that have characterized the last eight months directly reflect the insufficient supply of oil and gas. To increase production of domestic resources, excessive permitting and approval processes must be addressed by legislation or executive orders, McCown argues. “Meaningful change can occur almost overnight by ordering executive branch agencies to act with a sense of urgency as the current dilatory pace is choking the country’s efficiency and productivity,” he says.

For example, Senator Manchin has demanded congress address environmental permitting reform in this fall as a condition for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act. Senator Manchin understands that his party is solely focused on advancing renewables at the behest of fossil fuels that could alleviate volatile domestic prices. According to a summary released by his office, Machin’s proposed reforms streamlines approval processes for renewable and fossil fuel projects, designate a list of 25 high-priority projects to expedite construction, and create timelines for NEPA reviews.

McCown notes permitting reform is “one area where consumers and our overseas alias expect action from Congress and the administration.” While Democratic leaders have committed to put this reform to a vote, its future hangs in the balance. “Let’s hope they deliver, or we could all be in for a frigid and expensive winter,” he concludes.

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