With energy prices expected to reach record highs this winter, CT Examiner asked each major party candidate for federal office their thoughts on what is causing those high prices, and what the federal government should do to address them.
In their responses, the Democratic incumbents largely placed the blame for extraordinarily high energy prices – including oil, gas and electricity – on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. They also touted recent Congressional action to boost funding for energy assistance for low-income people and called for an expansion to the heating oil reserve in the Northeast.
Their Republican challengers largely placed the blame on President Joe Biden and the Democratic incumbents for limiting drilling in the U.S. and the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. They also all called for boosting domestic fossil fuel production to make the U.S. more energy independent.
Answers to the question, “Why are energy costs increasing as we move into the fall, and what should the federal government do about the high energy costs expected this winter?” are published in full below.
Rep. John Larson, his opponent Larry Lazor, and Rep. Jahana Hayes, the Democratic incumbent for the 5th Congressional District did not provide CT Examiner with responses to this question.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal – the Democratic incumbent
There are a number of steps we have taken to lower costs — most recently, with bipartisan support, we secured $1 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding, $20M of which will go to families in Connecticut. Just last month, I called on the Biden Administration to release Oil from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve, which would lower costs in New England.
We will continue to work to ease the pain of rising costs, but we must also address the root causes, which are Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and the greed of big oil companies who continue to profit at the expense of everyday Americans.
Leora Levy – the Republican challenger for Senate
Supported by his rubber stamp Dick Blumenthal, rising energy prices are a direct result of Joe Biden’s out-of-touch, radical agenda. They ended drilling leases, stopped American energy production in its tracks, and now American families are paying the price. This is a self-inflicted crisis and unfortunately for Connecticut, which already suffers from the nation’s highest electricity costs, our prices are about to go up even more during the winter months.
The Northeast is currently facing a historic home heating oil shortage, exacerbating our energy crisis and forcing families to make difficult financial decisions every day. When I get to Washington, I will champion American energy independence, engage with U.S. energy business leaders, promote U.S. energy sector jobs, and fight to lower prices for all Americans.
Rep. Joe Courtney – the incumbent Democrat for 2nd Congressional District
Oil and gas, like all commodities that are traded on global markets, is subject to price fluctuations as a result of external supply and demand. As winter approaches and Putin’s war continues to disrupt oil and gas supplies, I led a push by New England House colleagues to add an additional $1 billion for this winter’s federal low-income energy assistance [LIHEAP] program which was enacted on September 30th in the Continuing Appropriations Act [CR] for FY 2022. As in past years, this assistance can be boosted by additional funding if price and weather dictate and I will advocate for the highest level of help for eastern Connecticut.
In addition to LIHEAP, the federal government can help stabilize oil and gas markets and prices by steady releases of the strategic petroleum reserve along with other G7 countries. Lastly, another method for the federal government to cushion home heating oil prices is to expand the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve to 4 million barrels from its present level of 1 million barrels, which is inadequate. I support “The Home Heating Oil Reduction Act” which was recently introduced to accomplish that.
State Rep. Mike France – the Republican challenger for 2nd Congressional District
I get almost daily calls from constituents, most of them seniors, concerned with how they are going to afford their heating bill. The people of Eastern Connecticut cannot afford and cannot be expected to wait for the liberal green energy renaissance decades from deployment.
We need to immediately lift Biden’s arbitrary restrictions on energy production and restore our energy independence. Democrats like to point out that we’re the number one oil producer in the world, but under this administration we’re no longer self-reliant as the chief exporter.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro – the incumbent Democrat for the 3rd Congressional District
Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and face rising costs all around. It amounts to a daily assault on every working person. I am fighting to deal working families back in. As Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I fought for an additional $1 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program [LIHEAP] funding to ensure families can pay heating bills in the winter months. This will provide an estimated $20 million for working families in Connecticut. As another winter approaches, I am fighting for investments that ensure working families do not have to choose between keeping the heat on or putting food on the table.
Lesley DeNardis – the Republican challenger for 3rd Congressional District
As Americans are experiencing record high inflation and struggling to pay for gas, food and home heating, it is critical that the federal government address high energy costs as a top priority right now.
The reasons for rising energy costs as we move into the fall and winter are related to a number of factors. The Biden administration’s policy to refuse to permit drilling, closing the gas pipeline, a hostile position towards American energy, in general and the carbon industry specifically, all have resulted in the massive increases in oil prices. In particular, home heating oil prices have tripled. Diesel, which fuels commerce, has increased significantly. The trucks that transport products across the country will be more costly to deliver.
The federal government should allow America to drill, approve oil permits, and reopen the pipeline. Allow for all energy sources to compete and let the market determine choices.
We can and we must return to energy independence.
Rep. Jim Himes — the incumbent Democrat for the 4th Congressional District
Volatility in the global oil market, coupled with insufficient and outdated pipeline infrastructure in New England, will cause gas and electric bills to rise in the fall and winter.
I am committed to delivering short-term relief through programs like LIHEAP, which just received an extra $1 billion in the government funding package Congress passed in September. In the long run, we must build sustainable energy sources that insulate our domestic energy supply, while protecting the future of our planet.
Jayme Stevenson – the Republican challenger for 4th Congressional District
The Biden/Himes administration’s war on our domestic fossil fuel industry and the depletion of our strategic fuel reserves has disadvantaged Connecticut residents and all Americans who continue to pay increasingly high prices for gas, home heating oil and electricity produced by fossil fuels. As fuel costs rise, so too does the cost to transport our groceries and goods.
Our federal government needs to reignite our own fossil fuel industry in order to relieve dependency and high costs of importing global fuel supplies. This will allow the USA to become more self-sufficient and will result in lower energy costs to the average consumer. Energy independence is not only a smart strategy to help lower daily living costs for Americans, it is foundational to our national security.
George Logan, the Republican challenger for 5th Congressional District
We’re gonna see these fluctuations, spikes, and short-term dips from government intervention. But the issue is, when we moved away from attempting to achieve energy independence, that was what really drove us to this cycle that we’re in now of energy costs rising uncontrollably. Even a month back, when the Biden administration was touting gas prices coming down, I said they’re gonna come back up again because we’re not in control of our own destiny when it comes to energy.
We were looking to be completely energy independent, and now we’re relying on Saudi Arabia, China and Venezuela. So now, for example, the Saudis deciding to cut oil production is affecting our prices here.
As we’re heading towards the cold, winter months here in New England, families in my district are now going to suffer with high fuel and home heating costs. This will continue because the only way we can solve our energy crisis in the long term is by the United States of America becoming energy independent. Unfortunately, under the Biden/Harris leadership, as we all know, the first thing President Biden did was killed the Keystone XL pipeline and canceled federal oil and gas leases.
Now we’re in the situation we’re in, and any government intervention would be a short-term fix, but it’s not going to help with the long-term problem. We need to do more to free up those federal lands that were dedicated for oil and gas exploration and get back on that track as soon as possible.
I believe in the environment, I believe we need to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, but we need to do that in a practical manner. I’m an engineer by training and background, and I look at things in a logical, step by step manner. We cannot wean ourselves off of fossil fuels until we are energy independent and we can control our energy sources. But right now we are very reliant on fossil fuels, and countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Venezuela – they are not exploring and producing oil and gas in a way that is cleaner and more friendly to the environment than we could have.
Editor’s note: the original version of this story failed to note that both John Larson and Larry Lazor also failed to provide an answer to this query.