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Rep. Golden offers ideas for Biden administration to boost oil & gas production

"Our decision to ban Russian oil imports is only going to shake up global markets even worse," Golden said.

MAINE, USA — There has been talk about actions Congress could take to make the U.S. more energy independent for the long term. But it's unlikely Congress could act swiftly enough to make a difference right away.

Second congressional district U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and some of his colleagues sent a letter to President Joe Biden outlining steps they want him to take immediately because this problem is likely to worsen before it gets better.

"Our decision to ban Russian oil imports is only going to shake up global markets even worse," Golden said. "We're already near five dollars. I think we're going higher."

Golden said proposals from the left about going all-in on renewable energy and from the right about restarting the Keystone Pipeline project won't help the country get the relief it needs right now.

The bipartisan letter to Biden asks him to take some steps right now that don't need congressional approval.

First, they want the administration to provide financial certainty to oil and gas producers by making a three-year purchase commitment to address current and future needs in the strategic petroleum reserve.

Golden said, "A lot of these companies are hesitant to make investments today that could help us three months or six months or 12 months down the road because when the emergency goes away, and prices come down, they feel like they will be caught holding the bag, holding those investments with plunging demand."

Second, they want the president to invoke the Defense Production Act, as former President Donald Trump did at the start of the pandemic, to provide financial incentives to the private sector to ensure access to materials needed to boost production.

"If they're saying we can't ramp up production because of supply chain issues, the White House has the authority that Congress gave to him to say, 'We can force companies to sell prioritize sales to you, and do everything we can, essentially move heaven and Earth, to get you what you need.'"

Finally, what Golden described as the most crucial step, is to use the "bully pulpit " of the presidency by convening a summit of energy producers — oil and gas companies, renewable energy groups, and distributors. Golden said the president should appeal to their patriotism.

"Bring them in. Let's be partners, right, for the good of the country. I think probably in the short term, the most important thing that they can do is send signals, not only to those oil companies but to their investors. But they have a partner in the United States government with a common goal," he said.

Golden pointed out domestic oil production is still below pre-pandemic levels. But he said there are more than 9,000 approved but unused oil drilling permits, as well as natural gas pipelines, that could be brought online.

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