New Hampshire pays some of the highest electricity prices in America. It pays high home heating costs, and it pays among the highest overall energy costs in the country.
The one thing Granite Staters don’t pay when it comes to energy? Attention.
Energy policy and prices have not been a significant issue in Granite State elections this century. Green-obsessed candidates like Michael Bloomberg have not fared well in the First in the Nation primary.
And despite state Democrats literally calling for higher prices on consumers in order to fight climate change, Gov. Chris Sununu rarely raised the issue in any of his three successful races for governor. Why bother, when Granite Staters didn’t seem to care?
But President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have put energy policy into the political center ring. Biden’s inflation problem is directly related to rising energy prices, even as he issued orders limiting production. Then Putin helped by pushing his tanks into Ukraine, simultaneously pushing the U.S.’s new dependency on Russian oil onto the front page.
How many Granite Staters knew one month ago the U.S. imported an average of 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia last year? And another 500,000 barrels per day of natural gas and other petroleum products?
When Biden shut down the Keystone XL pipeline his first day in office, Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas, like nearly every other Democrat, supported the move. Sure, it killed thousands of union jobs and failed in its objective of keeping Canadian oil in the ground. (It is being shipped by rail and truck instead). But it was easy virtue signaling for climate-change-fighting Democrats.
Then gas prices jumped by a dollar a gallon in a year and home heating fuel soared by 5o percent or more. Suddenly, reducing oil and gas production and supporting higher costs via carbon taxes or RGGI isn’t viewed as “virtuous.”
And now Granite Staters are paying attention.
It is no coincidence that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Smith released an energy policy on Monday — the day before Biden’s State of the Union address. Smith’s proposals — Reauthorize the Keystone XL pipeline, end Biden’s ban on oil and gas leases on federal land, and embrace an “all of the above” energy policy — present a stark contrast to Biden’s record.
More importantly, it is a contrast to Hassan’s six-year record of opposing U.S. oil and gas production and support for hundreds of billions in federal spending for electric cars and windmills instead. When Biden visited New Hampshire late last year, Hassan reiterated her support for the Build Back Better plan. That bill includes a $100 billion tax hike over 10 years on energy producers.
Pappas doesn’t just support this tax hike. He and Rep. Annie Kuster have already voted for it.
Who wants to campaign this year on “I want a huge tax hike on the people who heat your home and fill your gas tank?”
New Hampshire Democrats, apparently. The state party attacked Smith’s plan as “a massive giveaway to Big Oil that would do nothing to cut energy costs for Granite Staters. This so-called plan comes right from Mitch McConnell’s corporate special interest playbook and is a desperate bid to get Big Oil’s dirty money.”
Who didn’t attack it? Maggie Hassan, or any other Granite State Democrat who has to actually face voters this November.
Instead, Hassan told CNN, “We need to push harder to increase the amount of oil, see if there’s more we could do to add to the supply side there.”
Smith says he thinks shutting down the Keystone Pipeline was a mistake. What does Hassan think? When NHJournal asked, we got no comment.
Smith says Biden is wrong to block leases for more oil and gas production. Does Hassan support Biden? When we asked — no comment.
Smith says the U.S. should produce more energy via all available technologies, including fracking and nuclear power. Hassan?
Biden’s aggressive anti-fossil-fuel stance and proposals to spend hundreds of billions on green energy have helped sink his approval rating to 39 percent, his lowest ever. Among independents, he is at 29 percent. Poll after poll shows Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of energy policy and/or gas prices.
Unfortunately for Democrats like Hassan and Pappas, Biden’s energy policy is their energy policy. Even with gimmicks like a “gas tax holiday,” there is not enough daylight between Biden and Democrats in Congress to make a difference.
Hassan’s Republican opponents are all going to take essentially the same position on oil production, Keystone, nuclear power, etc. They are going to reject the fundamental approach of Democrats’ climate-change policy: Higher prices and lower consumption.
What will Maggie Hassan do in response? If history is any guide, she will simply pretend nobody is asking.
In the New Hampshire of 2022, that may not be enough.