By Emily Greene
For many Americans, specifically Pennsylvanians, the pain at the pump has returned.
In January of 2021, just before President Joe Biden was sworn into office, gas prices were at a national average of $2.81/gal. Though this was only less than three years ago, the change in political environment drastically impacted the way in which consumers view energy production and consumption. Even the least-politically-involved motorists recognized that this was not normal—something had changed. By June of 2022, gas prices had reached a record-high rate of $4.62 a gallon—a direct result of failed national and state policies.
Rising gas prices are far more than just numbers on a pump. These numbers translate into real financial hardships for families across our state. The rise in gas prices ultimately require families to make critical tradeoffs in their budgets, diverting precious resources away from other essential needs such as education, health care, or quality of life improvements. In fact, last summer, Americans for Prosperity traversed the state talking with motorists right at the pump, where we heard the real stories of real Pennsylvanians making these trade-offs every day. One woman in Bensalem, just north of Philadelphia, shared that she would soon have to decide between putting fuel in her car to go to work, or putting food on the table for her family.
At Americans for Prosperity, we believe that an all-of-the-above approach to energy production and consumption—one that puts the energy sector in the hands of the free-market—is one that will allow Pennsylvanians to thrive. A market free of government intervention, such as “green energy” subsidies or cap-and-tax CO2 emission policy, is one that puts consumers first and allows Pennsylvanians to purchase critical, life-sustaining fuel at the lowest market price possible.
Harrisburg lawmakers are no stranger to policy that shackles energy abundance. Policies such as our state gas tax, which remains one, if not the, highest in the nation at 61 cents, force unnecessary financial burdens on an electorate that is already taxed enough. Despite the Senate’s efforts this year to remove the automatic increase in state gas tax, the legislation remains held up in the Democrat-controlled House chamber. On top of that, former Governor Wolf’s efforts to unilaterally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a conglomerate of states joined in commitment to cap-and-tax carbon dioxide emissions, play a role in the record-high numbers at the pump. By tapping into our state’s abundant natural resources, we can create jobs and stimulate economic activity here in the Keystone State. However, we need to lessen the regulatory restraints on our energy sector to empower innovation, foster competition, and drive down costs. Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI remains the most imminent threat to our energy abundance.
A divided government in Washington has led to similar debate regarding a pro-freedom vs. pro-control approach to energy production and consumption. H.R. 1, or the Lower Energy Costs Act, passed by a Republican-controlled House, would, among many things, roll back regulatory restrictions on energy production, eliminate new taxes on natural gas infrastructure, and ensure federal lands remain a source for domestic energy. In March, after House Republicans passed H.R. 1 on a near straight-partisan vote, Leader Schumer referred to the bill as “dead on arrival” in the Senate. Due to partisan politics, H.R. 1, the most comprehensive energy policy legislation we’ve seen in recent years, will not be allowed consideration on the Senate floor. As a result of partisanship from the Senate chamber, Americans continue to face hardships every week when they fill up their tanks.
As concerned advocates for a free-market approach to energy production, we believe that an unburdened energy market can lead to increased efficiency, reduced reliance on foreign sources, and ultimately lower prices at the pump for Pennsylvanians. Rising gas prices in Pennsylvania demand our attention, but they also present an opportunity for positive change. By advocating for reforms to our gas tax, rolling back regulatory barriers to energy production, and fostering market-driven competition, we can set a course towards economic prosperity and enhanced individual choice. Together, we can shape a future where Pennsylvanians enjoy greater freedom, lower costs, and a more vibrant economic outlook.
Let us remember that the economic challenges posed by rising gas prices are not insurmountable. By advocating for energy deregulation, prioritizing energy abundance, and allowing consumer choice to flourish, we can ensure that Pennsylvania families are not unduly burdened. Together, united by our principles, we can pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for all. Check out ProsperityIsPossible.com to learn more about our policy solutions to unleash energy abundance. Again, that’s ProsperityIsPossible.com. Sign your name and download our e-book to see just how these federal policies will help roll back restrictions to our energy abundance. This is Emily Greene with Americans for Prosperity-PA. Find us on the web at @afppennsylvania on Twitter and @afppa on Facebook.
Emily Greene | Deputy State Director | Americans for Prosperity – PA
m: 412.552.0271 | e: [email protected] | @AFPPennsylvania