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How Policymakers Can Boost Domestic Energy Security

Over the last year, reckless and irresponsible policies have hamstrung investments in energy infrastructure and production. From canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline on the first day of his presidency to halting new oil and gas leasing on federal lands, President Biden has put America’s energy security at risk.

READ: America Needs Affordable, Diversified, Reliable Energy

What’s worse, the White House has failed to see how problematic overreliance on other nations for energy is, particularly ones hostile to democracy, as Europe’s energy crisis continues to unfold with no end in sight. Whether or not dangerous executive policy continues to take place, it’s up to federal lawmakers to ensure America regains energy independence by enacting an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

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Detrimental energy policies that hurt energy goals and lackluster leadership have robbed consumers at the gas pump and left Biden’s approval numbers plummeting. Even after emptying more than 210 million barrels out of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) — more than 40 percent of reserves in less than two years — oil prices have continued to hurt Americans’ wallets. Not to mention, President Biden has already depleted the SPR more times than the three emergency releases from previous presidents, all of which were used to address genuine national emergencies instead of preventing political calamity. In spite of the administration’s restrictive policies, domestic energy production has increased this year due in large part to private sector leadership

Lawmakers should enhance domestic energy security through policy reforms that unleash the innovation of the private sector. 

For far too long, unnecessary government red tape and policy have gotten in the way of energy innovation. This has been especially prevalent in the case of rare earth minerals. Since the inception of smartphones, the U.S. has become extremely reliant on China to supply rare earth minerals, which are necessary to build iPhones, computer monitors, and even fighter jets. This monopoly has also hampered America’s ability to securely build out clean energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines. Unfortunately, our current permitting system is preventing American innovation to reverse this trend as it can take up to 30 years to complete applications for new mine sites. 

The United States has made some progress in recent years, but antiquated policies and litigious activists are still impeding progress. And despite legislative efforts, comprehensive permitting reform has failed to materialize. 

>>>READ: Time for Big Tent Permitting Reform

While reducing regulations is an important first step to bolstering energy security, policymakers can further stimulate energy innovation by backing research and development (R&D) initiatives across the U.S. In 2018, R&D supported more than 1.6 million jobs and added $197 billion in economic value and almost $40 billion in government revenue. The provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provide a combined $450 billion in clean energy investments toward new technologies, accelerated R&D and funding for research and demonstration programs across the nation. Congress can further spur private sector R&D spending by implementing immediate expensing, which allows businesses to deduct the cost of capital purchases in the year that they occurred, rather than amortizing those costs over many years.  

Importantly, not all government R&D is created equally. Research from Phil Rossetti of R Street shows that public spending on R&D is “most effective when complementary to the private sector.” Certain breakthroughs that cause economic development while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions will derive from several research areas. R&D investments are the key to future success and by working in tandem with the private sector through public-private partnerships America can accelerate energy innovation.  

Government-imposed roadblocks have hampered America’s energy production and hurt consumers. By investing in next-generation energy innovation and reducing regulatory burdens, the United States can bolster its energy security while reducing future climate risks.  

Jorge Velasco is a sophomore at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. He has multiple bylines in the Washington Examiner, Federalist, Daily Caller and more. Follow him on Twitter @velascoAjorge.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

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