Sky-High Energy Prices
November 10, 2021 | View PDF
While President Biden was criss-crossing Europe, Americans have been watching inflation spiral out of control. The cost of electricity has surged to the highest level in decades, and it’s expected to keep going up this winter. Even worse, headline inflation, which includes energy and grocery prices, is rising at the fastest rate in 30 years.
That may not matter much for wealthy coastal elites, but for most American families, it does matter. Every dollar counts, and paying more at the pump for gas or to heat our homes leaves less money for other essentials.
Rising costs have been especially hard to deal with in rural areas, where a typical family already has to pay upwards of 40 percent more for energy than families who live in cities. Inflation has also been tough for seniors, like Susan Zagozda from Omaha. According to the Omaha World-Herald, she’s “working part time at 65, [and] she has no room in her budget for extra costs.” As of October 22, “she had yet to turn on her furnace, even though frost had nipped the plants outside her home.”
Millions of American seniors like Susan are on a fixed income, and every extra dollar they spend to heat their homes is a dollar they can’t spend on other expenses. When many Nebraskans have to pay more for energy, they must cut back in other ways.
Natural gas, which nearly half of all U.S. homes use for heat, is a major reason for these rising prices. It’s nearly three times as expensive today compared to a year ago. And as prices keep going up, a ripple effect is hitting a range of industries.
It’s impossible to make most fertilizers without natural gas, and now that this fuel is in short supply, it’s become much more expensive to grow crops. Those costs will continue to be passed on to consumers at the grocery store. And a telecommunications company that serves rural Nebraska recently told me these price spikes are making it harder for them to expand broadband access, since oil and natural gas are crucial for making the plastic conduit needed to lay fiber.
What is President Biden doing to address these problems? His first week in office, he paused oil and gas lease sales on the nation’s more than 600 million acres of federal land. He said this ban was necessary to fight climate change, but the result has been a completely unnecessary dependence on foreign oil.
As recently as September, his administration was begging countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia to bail us out. In fact, we’re buying more oil from Russia right now than the entire state of Alaska produces. And now, despite skyrocketing prices, the president wants to spend trillions of dollars on radical tax and spend legislation that would add fuel to the fire of inflation and do nothing to solve our energy crisis.
Nebraskans and all Americans want a cleaner energy future, but it should never come at the expense of hurting working families. The American people want cheap, reliable energy – not a Green New Deal that ignores the realities most people face every day as they work to provide for their loved ones.
The average American today is paying a dollar a gallon more for gas than they were a year ago, 9 percent more for milk and 13 percent more for eggs, and as much as 19 percent more for steak. The way out of this downward spiral is clear: The president must back an all-of-the-above energy strategy. He must also prioritize responsible fiscal decisions that will grow the economy.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.