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OPINION

The War on Affordable Energy Continues

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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The Biden Administration’s war on American energy commenced on his first day in office when the president issued seven Executive Orders limiting oil exploration, imposing massive new costly regulations on the energy industry, and rescinding support for the Keystone Pipeline. Americans are feeling the impact of these policies through astronomical prices for electricity and natural gas. 

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Even states like Kentucky, which boasts one of the most robust energy industries in the country, are feeling the pain. Out of nowhere, the Blue Grass State suddenly found itself stuck in rolling blackouts this winter as scores of residents couldn’t even so much as turn on their lights, heat their homes, or power on their electric cars or stoves. The fact that something like this happened in Kentucky, a state that uses more energy per dollar of Gross Domestic Product than nearly any other, shows that it can happen anywhere.

This should not come as a shock when considering how coal country has been under assault for more than a decade. Liberal billionaires have spent hundreds of millions of dollars convincing policymakers to shut down American energy sources and the jobs connected to them. President Biden has bought what they’re selling, and despite the pain Americans are feeling, he is showing no signs of backing down.  

President Biden’s position is nonsensical. There’s a reason that coal still generates a large portion of the United States’ electricity: it’s one of the most reliable and effective energy sources on the market today. Biden says that it’s not clean, but that’s not true either. States like West Virginia and Kentucky have proven that coal can be mined with little to no environmental impact. 

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In addition to being wrong on the facts, the war on affordable energy generally and coal specifically, is dangerous because it involves government bureaucrats rather than the marketplace picking winners and losers. Under White House policy, the government is putting its fingers on the scales to boost solar and wind power while building every impediment possible to other energy sources. 

This temptation works both ways, with some state legislatures considering bills, such as Kentucky’s SB 4, that would use the power of big government to strong-arm coal use at all costs. Supporters of bills like these ignore the fact that coal plants, like everything else, have limited lifespans, and sometimes need to be shut down for taxpayers’ and energy consumers’ own good.  

Government shouldn’t put its thumb on the scale in either direction. Weakening the competitive marketplace, increasing costs, and reducing the availability of reliable electricity is not in anyone’s interest. 

The data proves it. In 2022, consumers paid nearly 15% more for their electricity than they did the year prior. President Biden and other advocates of the war on affordable energy may argue energy cost increases came about due to general price inflation, but this figure is two times higher than the country’s annual inflation rate of 6.5%. 

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The more President Biden and others push the country to move away from the cheapest and most effective sources of energy at their disposal (whether those may be coal, renewables, or something else), the more jobs and economic activity the American people will lose, and the more horror stories we’ll hear from people paying hundreds of dollars more every month for gas and electricity.  

Let’s not reflexively black out any particular source of power in the energy industry. Let’s allow them all to continue to grow, innovate, thrive, and shine bright. It’s the only way to ensure our power remains on and our utility bills don’t become as big as our mortgage payments.

Garst is the Vice President of the Center for Freedom & Prosperity

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