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House Republicans Hear From Americans Impacted by Skyrocketing Energy Costs


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 24, 2022 -

Washington - Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) hosted a joint forum to hear from Americans across the country about how President Joe Biden's catastrophic energy policies are hurting their businesses and paychecks.

"Gas prices affect daily life of Americans and small businesses across the country," Westerman said. "We are hearing stories of people who are nearly unable to afford their drive to work. Rolling blackouts have been projected across huge areas of the country – for instance, the Midwestern energy grid is short the power needed for 3.7 million homes...Unless there is a major shift, I fear the situation will just keep getting worse. We are here today to hear from our constituents about the challenges they are facing due to this crisis. Congress should be talking about real solutions every day until our constituents see some relief, and that is what we intend to do."

"The first step to getting gas prices back under control is to flip the switch on American energy production," McMorris Rodgers said. "We need to reverse the disastrous anti-fossil fuel policies imposed by the Biden administration. We need to restart energy infrastructure projects like pipelines and refinery expansions. We need to give the green light to banks and financial institutions to lend and invest in fossil fuel companies for today and the future. With solutions like the American Energy Independence from Russia Act that I’m leading on with my friend Bruce Westerman, the Republican leader of the Natural Resources Committee, Republicans stand ready to unleash American energy, make it affordable again, and reverse the damage caused by the Biden administration."

The panel of Republican members invited witnesses from their districts to testify during the forum.

Josh Akridge, owner, Hen Ridge Dirtworks

Greg Bates, owner and operator, Greg Bates Logging

Steve Benson, president, Planters Hay Inc.

Charles Cuny, superintendent, Little Wound School

Ron Gibson, president, Utah Farm Bureau

Heath Haywood, truck driver and city councilman, Malin, Ore.

Gary Henderson, president and CEO, United Way of Denton County, Texas

Cynthia Johnson, president, Montana Farm Bureau Association

Andy Juris, vice president, Washington Wheat Growers

Tim Kordula, instructor and administrator, Karl's Transport

Tim Soignet, sheriff, Terrebonne Parish, La.

State Rep. John Vanderwoude, District 22, Idaho

Jim Weakley, president, Lake Carriers Association

Timothy Welbaum, owner, Visiting Angels South Central Michigan

"We have become very creative in order to survive, but when I see guys we consider giants in this industry shutting down it scares me," Akridge said." Our creditors do not care about the cost of fuel. Our employees have families to feed and hospital bills to pay. We owe it to them to keep trying."

"During the entire year of 2021, we spent $74,000 in fuel for the equipment and the trucks," Bates said. "This year from January to June 16, we have already spent $125,000 in fuel and we are only halfway through the year. So instead of spending $6,175 a week in fuel, we are now having to spend $14,650 a week. That is an increase of 59 percent in fuel cost. The logger has no way to pass this cost on to anyone, and we have no way to recuperate this loss. We are at the mercy of the mills and what rates they are paying. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when the sawmills were making record profits due to the increased price of lumber, the Arkansas logger did not see a penny increase in the rate for the wood harvested."

"It now costs more to ship vegetables across the United States than the cost to grow," Benson said." Our region grows 90 percent of the nation’s winter vegetables. It is not sustainable. Unfortunately, the public blames the grower, and not the rapidly rising energy prices."

"Poverty households and ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households are feeling the shift pre-pandemic to current inflation economy that is driving increased financial instability," Henderson said." Pre-pandemic it took an 'event' to throw these households into crisis (sick child, car repair); now, a trip to the gas station, the grocery store or a Texas summer utility bill brings them to one of our nonprofits for assistance."

"The high cost of fuel not only impacts my ability to farm and produce safe and abundant food, it impacts the ability of the truck driver to bring that food to market or the manufacturer to process it, package it and ship it to grocery stores around the country," Johnson said. "Americans are accustomed to low-cost food, as it should be because we can produce it, but that won’t be the case this year, and in the future, simply because the fuel costs at every step have increased exponentially. High fuel costs impact food security, cost and availability."

"The home care industry is still relatively new over the last 20-25 years, and insurance companies still haven’t caught up with the times to begin to cover non-medical home care services, which means the majority of our clientele are paying out of pocket for our services, except our vets, who can only receive our services because of the VA, as most barely have money for food and rent," Welbaum said. "And we’re now at a point where if we raise service rates any higher, its going to force the majority of our seniors out of their homes and into nursing homes because it’s so unaffordable. Yet, if we don’t raise rates soon to cover another increase in wages, which is what’s needed, we’ll soon be left without caregivers to provide the essential services our clients require to survive safely at home. So what do we do?"

Watch the full forum here.


Contact: Committee Press Office 202-225-2761

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