Guest Blog: European Style Energy Policy Is The Wrong Fit For America
Last year, I joined a bipartisan group of members from the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a trip to Portugal, Belgium, and the Ukraine to discuss our mutual energy interests and Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe. During the meetings, it became clear that America possesses the energy resources needed to influence global energy markets and provide a reliable trading partner to our allies around the globe – many of whom are beholden to the whims of Russian President Vladimir Putin for their energy needs.
The message from our European allies I met with, overwhelmingly, is that they are looking to the United States to take the lead in providing a reliable and secure source of natural gas. As I traveled around Portugal, Belgium, and the Ukraine it became painfully obvious that overregulation has made energy less accessible and more expensive and strained their economies, strangling Europe’s once flourishing manufacturing sector. We simply cannot allow this same mistake to happen in the United States. European style regulations and policied are not the right fit for America.
This truth was recently highlighted in a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which found that if the United States was forced to pay European Union (EU) energy prices, Americans would lose almost 8 million jobs and cost our economy about $700 billion. The report also specifically focused on my home state of Ohio, which would be one of the hardest hit regions in the country, in part because of the leading role we play in energy development and manufacturing. Our state’s economy could lose $14.8 billion in GDP and more than 187,000 jobs, according to the report from the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. It also highlighted the staggering impacts that each and every family would feel – an average $5,000 per year reduction in income for every Ohio household.
We have a different approach to energy in America, but there is a relentless campaign on the environmental left to impose European-style policies here, and it is gaining ground. After he was first elected, President Barack Obama congratulated Europe on its anti-fossil fuel approach, and argued “[t]here is no reason we can’t do the same thing right here in America.” President Obama then tried to push a European-style cap-and-trade program through Congress, and when that bill failed, he turned to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue an executive-branch substitute – the so-called Clean Power Plan – in an attempt to further regulate fossil fuels, like coal, out of business.
But, as I and my colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have seen first hand, it would be economically disastrous for our country to follow the European example any further. Overregulation, higher prices and a deep dependence on imported sources of energy – in many cases from hostile nations – would be the inevitable result. We would surrender the gains we have made in recent years on energy security and revitalizing our manufacturing sector, thanks mostly to sound policies at the state level.
Even the Obama White House has admitted that thanks to America’s shale revolution, U.S. manufacturing has added over 800,000 direct jobs. We are making things in America again, and we have even reached the point where we can export some of our excess energy production to other nations that badly need it – including many in Europe. That’s why I have led, and will continue to lead, the drive for bipartisan legislation to export LNG (liquefied natural gas), which will help strengthen ties with our allies abroad, and help further grow our economy at home.
America is a leader, not a follower. We do not need to look to Europe for answers, or try to repeat their mistakes here. Americans must once again put our citizens and our jobs first. Regardless of who our next president is, we must come together and fight to support the responsible development of our own natural energy resources. By doing so, we will continue to bring manufacturing back and export more American-made products to the world.
America is willing to lead, and influence outcomes. We have a once-in-a-generation-opportunity to create American jobs, help our allies, and put a rogue Russian regime on its heels – all at the same time. It’s time we do it.
U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson represents Ohio’s Sixth Congressional District, which is made up of 18 counties in eastern and southeastern Ohio. The district runs along the Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky borders, following the Ohio River. The 13 full counties that make up the district include: Belmont County, Columbiana County, Carroll County, Gallia County, Guernsey County, Harrison County, Jackson County, Jefferson County, Lawrence County, Meigs County, Monroe County, Noble County and Washington County. The district also includes portions of Athens County, Mahoning County, Muskingum County, Scioto County and Tuscarawas County.