GREAT FALLS — Energy production is a hot topic across the U.S. Montana U.S. Senator Steve Daines got some perspective this week from energy industry representatives.
"Bottom line is unleashing American energy production, it's critical,” Daines said in his opening remarks during a roundtable discussion about energy production.
The discussion hosted by Daines lasted more than an hour but it took less than a minute into his opening remarks for him to make clear his opinion that increasing domestic energy production is critical.
"Not only for bringing down energy costs and promoting energy independence but it's also critical for national security,” said Daines.
Former U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt shared a story about a conversation he had with an Uber driver recently on his way to Capitol Hill.
"She said 'Please tell them we're hurting. We're hurting and it's so hard.' The cost of food, the cost of fuel. We're hurting,” said Bernhardt.
American Exploration & Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury outlined four steps she would like to see policy makers and the Biden Administration take, including clearly supporting all forms of domestic energy production long term.
She said messaging from the administration about phasing out oil and gas production, stopping production on federal lands, and blaming the industry for high prices creates what she calls needless uncertainty in the industry.
"We know that we need a diverse energy mix, but we also know that oil and natural gas are going to be part of that mix for decades to come,” said Bradbury.
Montana U. S. Senator Jon Tester agrees all forms of energy production need to increase and says that includes restarting the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
"I think it's really important that we encourage responsible energy production,” said Tester.
He noted there are more than 12 million acres of land leased by oil companies that the companies are not drilling on.
"We need to encourage those oil companies, they've got it leased, to go out there and start drilling,” Tester said.
He also said more oil needs to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help keep prices down.