Weekly Columns

Arkansans filling up their vehicles are paying more now than at any time in the last seven years. In the Natural State, the average price for a gallon of gas is $1.20 more than what were we paying just one year ago. It’s not only fuel prices that are spiking, but energy costs across the board are snowballing out of control. In late October, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the cost of natural gas will increase 30 percent this winter. The EIA also estimates about 40 percent of Arkansas households use natural gas to heat their homes, which means higher prices will force families to pay an average of $746 on gas heating through March. 

This surge has already hit Europe, resulting in fertilizer plant closures – creating a food-grade CO2 shortage crisis that is hurting pork and poultry processing – while at the same time, beverage producers are also facing the same challenge getting CO2 and could face widespread disruption across the food and beverage sector.    

Propane, heavily relied upon in America’s rural communities for agriculture production and home heating, has seen prices almost double this year. Market experts are predicting an “armageddon” as we head into the winter. 

The Biden administration’s policies have only intensified this problem. During his first week in office, the president paused all oil and gas leasing on federal lands and then killed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  

Now, President Biden and his allies in Congress want to enact policies that double down on economic hardship by eliminating affordable sources of energy, particularly those relied upon in rural America.     

As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I take these warnings seriously. 

The president’s plan would be an absolute gut punch to our family farmers and rural America as a whole, especially as inflation continues to skyrocket under this administration’s watch.   

The policies President Biden has enacted or proposed are not a realistic approach to keeping costs low while addressing our country’s environmental and energy needs. Heavy-handed rules that reduce energy supplies are also counterproductive.  

Bureaucratic overreach and unwarranted spending will not only drive up energy costs on consumers, but will also do the most harm to low- and middle-income families. Think of the impact this would have on single moms and seniors on fixed incomes. These families are most affected by burdensome regulations and can least afford a costly, unworkable energy policy.

There are commonsense steps we can take, beginning with using our nation’s existing energy resources. In addition to helping affordability, this will also reduce our dependence on oil from unstable regions. American manufacturers need long-term access to cost-effective energy so our country can compete globally against nations with much lower environmental standards. Also, in the event of a national security or an energy crisis, access to our resources will be essential.

We must continue to use an all-of-the-above approach to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio. Working to increase exploration and production of natural gas and oil, continuing the development and use of coal, and further supporting renewable and nuclear energy sources should all be part of our national energy strategy. America’s energy supply should be diverse, stable and affordable.

The good news is we have that capability. I will continue advocating for policies that encourage American energy production and fight against overreaching rules and regulations that result in increased costs to fuel our cars and heat our homes.