Weekly Columns

The United States of America is a leader in both energy and food production. We are blessed with tremendous resources that have helped our country thrive and enabled Americans to enjoy the benefits of ample access to necessities and staples for everyday living. 

When war breaks out in the world, it brings into focus the importance of not having to rely on foreign countries for the products and goods we need. That is the case today amid Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked invasion into Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruthless campaign against our ally has had devastating consequences for the people of Ukraine in addition to the global economy.

We have rallied to the cause of Ukrainians in a variety of ways as they withstand this assault, and will continue to stand in solidarity with them.

This conflict, much like the COVID-19 pandemic, has reminded Americans we simply cannot put ourselves at the mercy of other nations for essential commodities. That is obvious as we face rising prices at the gas pump and grocery store.

After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Americans are now paying even more for fuel at a time when we continue confronting soaring inflation.

In 2021, about eight percent of total U.S. crude oil and petroleum imports came from Putin’s regime. That can’t continue, which is why I joined my colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to restore American energy independence. Opening up American oil and gas deposits, and in particular approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, would benefit our allies suffering under Russian tyranny and American consumers.

Recall the president issued Executive Orders in January 2021 to block Keystone XL and pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and offshore waters. He should rescind both and work with U.S. energy producers to increase production at home. 

I’ve also joined several of my colleagues to introduce the American Energy Independence from Russia Act that would authorize the construction of Keystone XL, increase liquefied natural gas exports by removing regulatory hurdles, prohibit bans or pauses on new energy leases and spur other action to support U.S. energy production.

Just as energy independence is important for our national security, so is our food chain. The war on Ukraine has significantly disrupted U.S. agricultural markets. Interruptions in the supply of wheat, feed grains, and oilseeds will affect food security and further exacerbate ballooning global inflation.

When input costs go up, it’s a bad day for rural America and a bad day for everyone who works so hard to purchase the food they need to put on the table. In essence, everybody loses.

Farmers and ranchers should have every flexibility to ensure food security and affordability for the U.S. and beyond. One way to increase the domestic production of food is to delay the Conservation Reserve Program sign-up deadline to ensure farmers have access to millions of acres of cropland and pasture that would have otherwise remained idle in order to address both inflation and food security concerns. 

This should be a top priority. Now is the time for the U.S. to rise to the occasion and ensure our food supply remains stable and within Americans’ budgets.

If we can grow an abundance of food and produce enough energy to meet our domestic needs, we do not have to suffer at the whims of dictators or the uncertainty that accompanies volatile international crises. I will continue leading efforts in the Senate to secure our independence in these two incredibly important areas.