Poor energy policy is hurting Americans

In an op-ed, Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons argues for the expansion of oil and gas production in Pennsylvania.

An aerial view shows a natural gas pipeline under construction in October 2017 in Smith Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

An aerial view shows a natural gas pipeline under construction in October 2017 in Smith Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Inflation continues to wreak havoc on American workers, small businesses and families, with the consumer price index rocketing up to 9.1% since last year.

A year ago, I testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and warned about the impact of inflation on people in Lancaster County. From groceries to simple household items, nothing is safe from the drastic and painful price increases. As myself and many others have been warning, inflation hurts working people and senior citizens who are on fixed incomes the worst.  It is devastating to them. And if they have been able to set some money aside in the bank for a rainy day, that cash is being drained of value.

Energy, especially, has been impacted greatly by inflation. Gas prices have been hovering around $5 per gallon across the nation for much of the summer. This is true, here at home, in the commonwealth, as well. Gas and other energy costs continue to take up more and more of Pennsylvanians’ budgets. This is unsustainable for working people.

As Lancaster County commissioner, it pains me to see so many in my county and the rest of the state struggle to make ends meet. It is also especially hard to see rural Pennsylvanians, many of whom work in our state’s energy industry, become more vulnerable to the impacts of higher inflation.

Something must be done to address the current economic destruction being wrought on our fellow citizens. But the (President Joe) Biden administration does not seem to care.

As a former Army Infantry officer, I know that American energy independence makes us safer as a nation. Is the Biden administration unaware that it is better to use energy from Alaska than Arabia? Or that it is safer and better for America to get our energy from South Dakota rather than South America? 

Does the Biden administration know the critical role that the American energy industry can play in improving air standards, lowering emissions and expanding energy accessibility? Apparently not – because on his first day in office, Joe Biden made his disdain for America’s oil and gas industry clear. He issued an executive order halting all new drilling on federal lands. He then followed up by canceling critical pipelines like Keystone XL. Next, he canceled leases in rural parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The result of these actions is, predictably, what we see today – soaring gas prices and decreases in domestic energy production. 

If we actually want to solve problems, lower prices, and work towards a lower-emissions future, we would not engage with foreign rivals. Instead, the answer is simple. Reinvigorate American energy production. When we increase production at home, it improves our economy, creates jobs, and protects us from price surges in the energy market. Further, if we boost the production of American oil and gas, we can provide energy for our allies abroad and remove them from the grip of foreign rivals.

I hope the current administration recognizes these benefits sooner rather than later. There is an urgent need to address the economic destruction Americans are facing. The solution begins with smart energy policy.

Josh Parsons is a county commissioner in Lancaster County.