GRAND FORKS -- U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong this week sharply criticized Biden administration policies that he says have created an unacknowledged tax on Americans and an energy crisis in a land of plenty.
Armstrong, a Republican from North Dakota, participated in a Tuesday, Oct. 26, news conference with other GOP members who also were critical of various policies pushed this year by President Joe Biden.
Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., and Steve Scalise, R-La., spoke of concerns they have with a host of Biden-backed initiatives and issues they believe Biden’s agenda has created. But Armstrong, whose home state is what he calls an “energy powerhouse,” specifically targeted energy issues.
“Make no mistake: This is self-induced. This is created by the Biden administration,” Armstrong said of rising gas prices and increased energy rates for consumers. “This is bad for consumers, bad for domestic energy producers and bad for American workers. We are creating policy that makes energy more expensive and puts us in a bad competition on the world stage. It’s that simple.”
Armstrong spoke for a little more than 2 minutes during the 20-minute news conference, which was conducted via a livestream broadcast. While the others spoke in more general terms about the president’s initiatives – immigration and the nation’s supply chain issues, for instance – Armstrong quickly listed what he believes are Biden’s mistakes regarding energy, including:
- Canceling the Keystone XL pipeline.
- Waiving sanctions on Nord Stream 2, a European pipeline.
- Restricting leases to develop minerals on federal lands.
- “Unrealistic climate goals” that Armstrong believes cannot be achieved in the announced time frame of 2030.
- And, in August, reaching out to OPEC – the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – to increase its output for American consumption.
Meanwhile, Armstrong said, costs will rise for consumers.
“North Dakota is an energy powerhouse (yet) we have gotten notice from our two utilities that people are going to pay upward of $150 to $200 more for their energy costs this winter,” he said.
He noted Biden’s pledge, made earlier this year, that those earning less than $400,000 annually will not see new taxes.
“People who are paying $200 more to heat their home in North Dakota in the winter will disagree,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong also was critical of American gas prices. Earlier this week, the national average price of a gallon of gas was $3.367, up more than $1.20 from the price in October 2020. The prices in North Dakota and Minnesota are about 20 to 25 cents cheaper than the national average, according to AAA, but still about a dollar higher than a year ago.
“We need to talk about it and we need to be honest with the American people about it because their costs are going up,” Armstrong said, noting that costs are increasing “whether it’s at the pump or to heat their house or to feed their families. And we’re not spending enough time talking about why that is.”
Biden, meanwhile, last week said Americans likely will see high gas prices into next year, but he attributes it to outside influences, such as OPEC.
“My guess is you’ll start to see gas prices come down as we get by and going into the winter – excuse me, into next year, in 2022,” the president said during a CNN town hall in Baltimore, as quoted by the Bloomberg news agency. “I don’t see anything that’s going to happen in the meantime that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices.”
Some analysts say gas prices have risen due in large part to high demand, especially as Americans have begun traveling again in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a release earlier this week from AAA, the increase in prices “is due to higher demand coupled with elevated crude prices and low inventory levels. ... Global oil production is still below pre-pandemic level, according to Energy Information Agency data. Furthermore, while total domestic gasoline stocks decreased last week, gas demand increased.”
Said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA: “While the U.S. economy continues its recovery from the depths of the pandemic, demand for gas is robust while supplies are tight.”