Close to Home: Blame Putin for high gas prices

The combined disruptions of COVID-19 and Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine have Americans feeling pain at the pump.|

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

Last week, the national average gas price topped $4 per gallon for the first time in over a decade.

In our community, the numbers are even higher. And it’s taking a toll: the combined disruptions of COVID-19 and Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine have Americans feeling pain at the pump.

Americans are hurting, and we need to work together in Congress to find policy solutions rather than exploiting the crisis for political gain. And there are a few things we need to get straight.

Mike Thompson
Mike Thompson

First, this is Vladimir Putin’s price hike. The prices you’re seeing at the pump are the result of two things: rapid shifts in supply and demand caused by COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Those arguing otherwise should consider the following:

– President Joe Biden has approved over 3,500 permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands – nearly 1,000 more permits than were issued during the previous administration’s first year.

– There is not a single square inch of America that was being drilled for fossil fuels in 2019 that is not being drilled today because of the Biden administration.

– There are currently over 9,000 permits for onshore drilling on public land that fossil fuel companies are not using.

– The Biden administration produced more oil and gas last year than in the first year of the previous administration.

– The economy came back faster than many expected from COVID-19, but oil companies and their investors have been slow to bring production fully back online.

Second, the Biden administration has banned the import of Russian oil and gas. To his credit, the president was honest with us from the start: this will require a sacrifice from Americans. We must defend democracy and Ukrainian sovereignty – and do what we can to make Russia acquiesce. Banning Russian energy imports is indispensable to both goals.

I am working on legislation that would provide working people with a $100 energy rebate each month to help cover gas costs. And it won’t add a dime to the national debt: my bill is paid for by imposing tariffs on countries, including India and China, that have refused to sanction Russia for its cruel, immoral and criminal invasion.

Long-term, the solution to gas prices is to embrace renewable energy – that’s why I wrote the most consequential climate legislation ever to pass the House.

But if we don’t stand up to a bully like Putin now, other dictators will take note. We must support Ukraine, defend democracy and defend our energy security – and I am ready to get it done.

Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, represents the 5th Congressional District.

You can send letters to the editor to letters@pressdemocrat.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and don’t necessarily reflect The Press Democrat editorial board’s perspective. The opinion and news sections operate separately and independently of one another.

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