U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio

Opinion Pieces

Europe's energy policies wrong for America and Ohio

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Cleveland, November 27, 2016 | comments
Cleveland Plain Dealer
By Rep. Bill Johnson
Published November 27, 2016

Now that the dust has settled after the election, we must address some critical policy issues facing our country -- one of which is the regulatory and tax policy around energy. Will the United States put American families first, or look toward the European Union's (EU) regulatory regime as a model instead?

To help understand what is at stake, 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. 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.

Meeting with the different European leaders reinforced my belief that adopting an energy policy on the backs of taxpayers to artificially prop up alternative energies, at the expense of coal and natural gas, only hurts our economy and the consumer. Due to EU energy policies, electricity and home heating costs have gone through the roof across Europe, and, on average, gasoline prices in the EU are more than two times higher than U.S. prices. What if the average Ohioan was forced to pay $4 a gallon in gas and 25 percent more in home heating costs? How would it impact your family?

Well, according to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21stCentury Energy, the staggering impacts that each and every family would feel by paying European style prices for energy would result in an average $5,000 per year reduction in disposable income for every Ohio household. That is a staggering number.

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. In Ohio, we have already seen this play out through the degrading of our coal industry; what do you think these same groups want to do to our oil and natural gas industry? How will these policies impact our electric, natural gas, and fuel prices here at home? European policies have provided a clear road map.

As I witnessed first-hand with my House colleagues, it would be economically disastrous for America 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 also surrender the gains we have made in recent years on energy security, lower electricity and home heating costs.

Even President Obama's White House has admitted that thanks to America's shale revolution, U.S. manufacturing has added over 800,000 direct jobs. 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.

When it comes to energy, Americans should lead, not follow. We do not need to look to Europe for answers or try to repeat their mistakes here. Washington, D.C. must once again put American citizens and jobs first. Regardless of the presidential election results, Americans should come together in a bipartisan way and join the effort to support the responsible development of our resources. By doing so, we will continue to bring manufacturing jobs back, export more American-made products to the world, and continue to keep electricity, home heating and fuel prices low.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create American jobs, help our allies, and put a rogue regime on its heels all at the same time. It's time we do it...but America must be willing to lead.

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Tags: Energy