Guest Column

We face a potential energy crisis

By Sen. John Barrasso
Posted 6/17/21

Energy is called the master resource for a reason – it powers our nation, military, and economy.

America has the world’s largest energy resources. Bad policies, though, are creating …

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Guest Column

We face a potential energy crisis


Energy is called the master resource for a reason – it powers our nation, military, and economy.

America has the world’s largest energy resources. Bad policies, though, are creating blackouts and energy shortages, and increasing dependence on foreign adversaries.

All across our country, gasoline prices are spiking just when families who’ve been shut in for months want to take well-earned vacations. To fill up a truck in Wyoming, it is now about $15 to $20 more for the fill-up than it was at the beginning of the Biden administration. 

Our electric grids are under growing strain as wind and solar energy displace reliable coal and nuclear power.

Where we once worried about OPEC’s control over energy supplies, we’re now witnessing China and Russia dominate critical supply chains. At the rate we’re going, America may soon face an energy crisis like we did in the mid-70s.

That energy crisis was so grave that President Jimmy Carter said solving it was “the moral equivalent of war.” In 1977, Carter told Congress: “No agency, anywhere in the federal government, has the broad authority needed to deal with our energy problems in a comprehensive way.”

The Department of Energy was established to do just that. After decades of work, America rose to the challenge and turned an economic, national security and geopolitical liability into an advantage for our country.

We became more energy efficient. We developed new technologies, like hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and deep water exploration. These unlocked vast new supplies of American energy.

The Trump administration unleashed the nation’s energy potential. Because of policies like cutting red tape, approving long-delayed pipelines, and opening up the Arctic for exploration, the United States became energy self-reliant for the first time in nearly 70 years.

Yet — as the Wall Street Journal recently warned — “the U.S. is barreling toward one of the greatest self-inflicted wounds in our history.”

During his first week in office, President Joe Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline and banned all new federal oil, coal and gas leases. The EPA has promised to impose a slew of punishing regulations. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is making it harder to permit natural gas pipelines.

On June 1, the Biden administration suspended all oil and gas leases in the Alaska arctic in defiance of a 2017 law explicitly directing the federal government to open the territory. Meanwhile, China and Russia continue to open new coal mines, build new coal plants and develop oil and gas resources at home and abroad.

China and Russia are working to gain a commanding share of the global resource markets. And they are succeeding: In March, the United States imported more oil from Russia than from any other country but Canada. We now get more oil from Russia than we produce in Alaska. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that the other day at a hearing right in this very room.

The Biden administration’s energy policies are now having predictable effects. Gas prices have spiked over 70 cents since Inauguration Day. When adjusted for inflation, gasoline prices are higher now than during the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973.

Last month, a cyberattack on a major oil pipeline led to shortages and something we haven’t seen in decades — long lines at gas stations. And California again faces imminent power shortages and blackouts. The Sacramento Bee reports that: “The managers of California’s electricity system can’t promise they’ll be able to keep the lights on this summer.” 

America is returning to the energy malaise the Energy Department was born to fix in 1977 under Jimmy Carter. 

The American people face a potential energy crisis of this administration’s own making. The question is, can the department help turn around the administration’s disastrous policies?


(U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Casper, is Wyoming’s senior senator, having served in this position since 2007. This column was adapted from remarks he delivered Tuesday during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the president’s budget request for the Department of Energy.)

Guest Column