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GOP Legislators Demand Energy Independence, More Gas Drilling, Line 5 Safeguards

March 15, 2022

Senate and House Republicans passed non-binding resolutions calling Wednesday on the United States and Michigan to ramp up domestic oil and gas drilling and to safeguard Line 5 oil pipeline operations in the pursuit for energy independence. 

The resolutions come as gas prices continue to climb due to the global pressures caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. AAA has the Michigan average for a regular gallon of gasoline at $4.245, up from $4.18 on Tuesday, $3.369 from last month and $2.78 from a year ago.

“We must focus on policies that increase the production and use of U.S. energy resources, including boosting American oil and natural gas production, increasing investments in renewable energy and continuing the safe operation of the Line 5 pipeline here in Michigan,” said Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) on his SR 114. HR 250, a similar resolution sponsored by Rep. David Martin (R-Davison), passed the House, 62-40.

“Reliance on foreign oil has impacted the United States’ ability to intervene in conflicts around the world, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the resolution reads. “Reliance on foreign sources of energy creates a potential risk that those sources could be jeopardized by United States’ actions abroad, which could limit our ability to project American values.” 

Russia has been the second largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products globally, and last year, the U.S. imported 672,000 barrels of Russian crude and refined products daily. 

Now that the White House is implementing a ban on Russian oil imports – as of an announcement made by President Joe Bidenon Mar. 8 – some individuals have been pushed by the global crisis to demand the U.S. unleash the full potential of its fossil fuel industry. 

Shortly after Wednesday’s Senate vote, Oil & Water Don’t Mix and the National Wildlife Federation released a joint statement criticizing the Line 5 portion of the resolution. 

“Keeping Line 5 running puts Michigan’s economy and the Great Lakes at risk of a catastrophic pipeline rupture that would destroy up to 700 miles of Great Lakes coastline,” the statement reads. “What Michigan and America must do to secure our energy future is move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources that can’t be used by dictators like Vladimir Putinas leverage in an immoral war.” 

Sen. Ed McBroom(R-Waucedah Twp.)– the single senator from the Upper Peninsula, where 65% of the peninsula’s propane demand depends on Line 5 — said the resolution isn’t capitalizing on the disaster that’s going on in the world, but “recognizes a reality we already had and will have.” 

“I am talking to farmers right now who don’t know how they’re going to grow food for all of you this year. It is a real problem. Fertilizer costs are through the roof and that’s all directly related to natural gas. That’s where it comes from,” McBroom said on the Senate floor. “Somehow, all of us supporting this resolution are promoting fear and we’re utilizing a crisis. That’s what we heard from somebody who’s promoting a crisis 100 years from now?” 

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats like Sen. Jeff Irwin(D-Ann Arbor) said the resolution promotes America’s “dangerous addiction to fossil fuels.” 

“Our loyalty in this chamber should be to our people, our consumers — not to the fossil fuels that are changing our climate and the multinational companies that sell them,” Irwin said. “But just like an addict who’s not ready for treatment, this resolution is reaching for a fix.” 

Wednesday’s resolution was part of Republican lawmakers’ gas relief plan – with its centerfold being a six-month elimination of Michigan’s 27-cents-per-gallon fuel tax until the end of the fiscal year. The legislation, which will utilize $750 million from the state’s surplus to backfill the subsequent loss in road funding, is anticipated to be voted on in the Senate next week. 

Fourteen Democrats opposed the resolution, with Sen. Curtis Hertel(D-East Lansing) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) not submitting votes. 

“Here’s the reality – we are sitting on billions of dollars of federal aid in this state that we have not, at this point, given to the people of Michigan,” Hertel said on the Senate floor. “I am tired of people being here pretending to work. I am tired of people giving speeches to be posted on Facebook or trying to get Quote of the Day or run for Congress from this body right here.” 

Hertel essentially described Republicans as pretending to do something by “passing a sheet of paper. You’re not actually doing anything to help anybody.” 

Copies of the resolution will be sent to the Governor’s office, members of the Michigan Public Service Commission, individuals on the Federal Regulatory Commission, Biden and other leaders in Washington, D.C. 

“We know that energy independence and energy security is national security. Everybody knows that,” said Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), adding that Democrats “want you to have a self-loathing reaction for daring to fill up your own family minivan, just to get your kids to school or soccer practice . . . “

He said, “If you dare drive a pickup truck, you basically are Vladimir Putin today in their eyes.” 

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