At Subcommittee Hearing, Democrats Champion Actions to Lower Energy Costs, Combat Climate Crisis

Mar 9, 2023
Press Release
Instead of Evaluating Sustainable and Equitable Solutions to Energy, Committee Republicans Stood By Big Oil’s Misinformation Playbook

Washington, D.C. (March 9, 2023)—Yesterday, Rep. Cori Bush, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs, led Subcommittee Democrats in examining the Biden-Harris Administration’s decisive actions to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to mitigate the effects of Putin’s price hike at the gas pump in the United States and combat the climate crisis with historic investments in clean energy.


“Let’s be clear: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was precisely created to be tapped in emergencies involving severe shortages of oil.  Of course, I believe that the best way to avoid similar challenges in the future is to end our reliance on oil, but there should be no doubt that President Biden employed it explicitly for its stated purpose in an emergency – when our nation’s families and people needed it most,” said Ranking Member Bush in her opening statement.


The hearing included testimony from Republican-invited witness Alex Epstein, a self-proclaimed “philosopher” who previously espoused white nationalist views about the inferiority of non-Western cultures, and Ilia Bouchouev, of Pentathlon Investments and formerly of Koch Global Partners.  The hearing also featured the testimony of Democratic-invited witness Demond Drummer from the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy.


Witnesses and Committee Democrats highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration’s decision to tap the SPR successfully protected the American people from extreme prices at the pump caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


  • Rep. Melanie Stansbury set the record straight about how the SPR helped avoid an economic crisis:  “I want to just be clear on the facts so let’s talk about the facts.  Last year Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.  Months later, he went to Saudi Arabia and OPEC, they constrained oil production and jacked up global oil prices, and President Biden and his administration took an emergency action to lower gas prices.  The U.S. Treasury studied it, it lowered gas prices up to 38 cents at the pump per gallon, it actually helped alleviate a massive economic crisis in the United States at the end of the summer as we were facing fuel and food shortages and American production is at an all-time high.  So those are the actual facts.”


  • In response to a question from Rep. Shontel Brown about how President Biden’s effort to lower gas prices benefitted Americans, especially the most vulnerable populations, Mr. Drummer testified:  “As even Dr. B[ouchouev] concedes, the release from the reserve did have an impact.  And of course, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, along with the other packages, are the long-term investment to really secure the energy security for this country and for households all across the country.”


  • Mr. Drummer testified:  “In light of the global energy price shocks resulting from the conflict in Ukraine, the Administration’s decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was the right decision in the short term to provide much needed relief for the American people.  This is especially true for the nearly one out of every three people in America who live in or near poverty and pay a disproportionate share of their limited household income to meet their energy and transportation needs.”


Witnesses explained how renewable energy is cheap and effective.


  • In response to incorrect assertions by Committee Republicans that renewable sources of energy are only cheaper than fossil fuels because of subsidies, Mr. Drummer corrected the record:  “Actually fossil fuels are heavily subsidized, more so than renewables right now, and still renewables are more price competitive.”


  • Mr. Drummer testified:  “Wind and solar energy are by far the most cost effective sources of power generation on the planet.”  When later asked about Mr. Drummer’s statement, Republicans’ own witness, Dr. Bouchouev responded:  “Renewables are great.”


Rather than engage responsibly and recognize the disproportionate impact of the climate emergency on communities of color, Republicans stood by Mr. Epstein when he doubled down on white nationalist ideology.


  • Over objections from Committee Republicans, Ranking Member Bush set the record straight on Mr. Epstein’s views in her opening:  “When confronted about these views over two decades later, rather than disavow them, he doubled down on this narrative saying, quote, ‘It has nothing to do with skin color.  I was arguing that those cultures overall are inferior to Western culture.’  We are not inferior to any culture.  Speaking as the descendent of one of those cultures, this is the witness the Republicans invited to discuss issues of energy security.”


  • Mr. Epstein confirmed his reprehensible sentiment:  “What I argued and what I’ve argued for my entire adult life is that Western culture is superior in the sense that it promotes individualism and freedom.”  He added:  “There are different places around the world that are in many ways inferior.”
118th Congress