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Energy secretary: Expect to pay significantly more to heat your homes this winter

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Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Americans should expect to pay significantly more to heat their homes this winter, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says.

When asked in a Sunday interview on CNN if energy costs would go up, she said, “Yes, this is going to happen. It will be more expensive this year than last year. We are in a slightly beneficial position, certainly relative to Europe, because their chokehold of natural gas is significant. They’ll pay five times higher.”

Heating prices could increase 50% this winter, the Energy Information Agency warns. “We expect that the nearly half of U.S. households that heat primarily with natural gas will spend 30% more than they spent last winter on average – 50% more if the winter is 10% colder-than-average and 22% more if the winter is 10% warmer-than-average.”

The EIA said it expects the 41% of households that heat primarily with electricity “to spend 6% more – 15% more in a colder winter and 4% more in a warmer winter.”

Likewise, the 5% of households that heat primarily with propane “will spend 54% more – 94% more in a colder winter and 29% more in a warmer winter,” and the 4% of households that heat primarily with heating oil “will spend 43% more –  59% more in a colder winter and 30% more in a warmer winter.”

In a Nov. 5 Bloomberg News interview about the administration not boosting domestic oil production to help lower prices and relying on foreign oil production instead, Granholm laughed.

Bloomberg’s Tom Keene asked her, "What is the Granholm plan to increase oil production in America?" She laughed, saying, "That is hilarious. Would that I had the magic wand on this."

She added, “As you know, of course, oil is a global market. It is controlled by a cartel. That cartel is called OPEC, and they made a decision yesterday that they were not going to increase beyond what they were already planning.”

But those in the oil industry argue costs wouldn’t be rising so drastically if President Joe Biden hadn’t shut down the Keystone XL pipeline construction, or halted domestic production of oil and gas on federal lands, among other regulatory measures he’s advanced.

In October and again on Nov. 4, Biden asked OPEC+ to produce more oil, which the Saudi-led alliance rejected twice.

The White House National Security Council recently said in a statement, “Our view is that the global recovery should not be imperiled by a mismatch between supply and demand. OPEC+ seems unwilling to use the capacity and power it has now at this critical moment of global recovery for countries around the world,” suggesting that Americans rely on foreign production instead of the untapped supply it’s capable of producing.

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, told The Center Square, "Global demand for oil and natural gas continues to increase as economies stabilize and more people are on the move. Supply remains tight globally and we need policies here in the United States that encourage domestic production, not discourage it, to meet our growing energy needs without depending on other nations."

Texas remains the largest producer of oil and gas in the nation, and the world. But energy regulations and proposed taxes in the Democrats’ budget reconciliation package would make the U.S. further dependent on foreign sources of energy, U.S. groups argue.

Seven Democratic U.S. representatives from Texas called on House and Senate leaders to not target the oil and gas industry in the budget reconciliation bill. Doing so, they argue, has “the potential to cost thousands of jobs, stifle economic recovery, increase energy costs for all Americans, strengthen our adversaries, and ultimately impede the transition to a lower carbon future.”

The proposed tax changes in the bill will further cut domestic production and endanger domestic refining capacity while increasing demand for oil from OPEC+ countries, they argue.

Twenty-four Republican senators also wrote a letter to Biden saying it was "astonishing that your Administration is now seeking assistance from an international oil cartel when America has sufficient domestic supply and reserves to increase output which would reduce gasoline prices.

"Your Administration’s domestic oil and gas development policies are hurting American consumers and workers, are contrary to an ‘America First’ energy agenda, and reinforce a reliance on foreign oil.”

According to a recent economic study from the Wyoming Energy Authority, the cost of Biden’s ban on federal leasing will be significant. In his first term, Gross Domestic Product across eight western states is expected to decline by $33.5 billion. An estimated 58,676 jobs will be lost annually, wages would drop by $15 billion, and state tax revenue would plummet by roughly $8.3 billion. Wyoming and New Mexico are expected to be hit hardest.