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Capito Hammers Biden on Energy Policy

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., speaks as U.S. Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton appears before a Senate Rules and Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Jan. 6, attack on the Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PARKERSBURG — For the security of the nation and the world, the United States needs to be energy independent, but the policies of the Biden administration are prohibiting that, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said during a virtual press conference Thursday.

Stopping construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and enacting a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands has increased the country’s reliance on foreign oil, Capito said in a speech on the Senate floor just before the press conference. That, she said later, contributed to rising gasoline prices even before recent jumps in the wake of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

“We really need energy independence,” Capito said. “These prices were skyrocketing well before this.”

The U.S. needs to be able to provide for its own energy needs and backstop European allies who are reliant on Russian oil, she said. Actions President Joe Biden has taken — tapping into the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and seeking help from Venezuela — will have limited impacts or are counter-productive, the senator said.

“You cannot hinder American oil and gas production in the name of reducing emissions and then nudge countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to produce more,” she said. “Emissions are emissions.”

Temporarily eliminating state or federal gasoline taxes is not the way to address rising prices because that revenue helps maintain American roads and infrastructure, Capito said.

“I think the best way to solve this problem is for the president to unleash the American energy sector,” she said.

As gas prices are becoming “an enormous political issue” with midterm elections approaching, Capito said she expects some “creative Band-Aids” in the months to come. Strategies could include lifting the regulations requiring refineries to switch to the more expensive summer blend, as was done under President George W. Bush, or allowing a higher percentage of ethanol in fuel.

Capito denounced the violence being perpetrated against Ukrainians but said the U.S. must do everything it can to avoid “a superpower war.” She said she does support providing Polish fighter jets to Ukraine even if they come through a U.S. and NATO base in Germany, as Russian President Vladimir Putin is already well aware America supports Ukraine’s efforts to remain independent.

“We’re pushing the administration on this, but it seems they’re backing down even more than they were yesterday,” she said.

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