For years, Senator Maggie Hassan has opposed increased oil and gas production in the U.S. Instead, she’s backed President Biden’s energy policies like shutting down the Keystone pipeline and restricting oil production. She pushed New Hampshire into the cap-and-trade Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, raising energy prices. And she’s proposed federal tax increases on drilling and oil production.
“We need to address climate change — it is an existential threat — and we need to do so urgently,” Hassan told NHPR in 2019.
But with soaring inflation hurting her political prospects this November and gas prices rising $1 a gallon just in the past year, Hassan has a new message:
Drill, baby drill!
Asked about the Biden administration’s efforts to address the inflation crisis, Hassan told CNN:
“We need to push harder to see what we can do to resolve the supply chain issues. 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.”
“I’m going keep pushing them to do more,” Hassan added.
Pushing for more oil production probably isn’t want the League of Conservation Voters, one of the nation’s most long-standing progressive environmental groups, was expecting when they endorsed Hassan for re-election last June, a year before the filing deadline in her U.S. Senate race.
And it’s likely a disappointment to Granite State green activists like 350 New Hampshire, who’ve supported Hassan in the past. (They did not respond to a request for comment.)
Green organizations, who support carbon taxes and oppose subsidizing fossil fuels, can’t be thrilled with Hassan’s call for a federal gas tax “holiday,” which would cut 18.4 cents per gallon from the price. Lower prices lead to more consumption, though with gas prices up more than a dollar in the past year, the impact of Hassan’s proposal is uncertain.
In a new CNN poll, inflation and the economy are by far the most pressing concerns to most Americans. Just 8 percent picked climate change as their top issue. Biden, whose approval rating has fallen into the 30s in the RealClearPolitics average, is getting low marks on the economy as well. Just 38 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the economy.
Hassan’s reversal on oil production is hardly surprising given the impact higher prices have on New Hampshire, where 43 percent of households use home heating oil and another 17 percent heat with propane.
Granite Staters who rely on heating oil can expect to pay up to 59 percent more this winter, the EIA reports. Some households that rely on propane could see their costs climb 94 percent over last year.
Senator Hassan did not respond to requests for comment on her “push for more oil” stance.