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By Nusaiba Mizan November 30, 2021

Texas Rep. Roger Williams offers one estimate of household costs from Biden energy policies

If Your Time is short

  • Williams brought up a statistic from an analysis of a Biden campaign promise to ban new leasing and development for oil and gas operations on federal lands and waters.
  • The statistic was used in a speech in criticism of Biden's policies on energy.
  • The campaign promise — to ban new leasing and development— differs from President Biden's January executive order to specifically pause new leasing.
  • That pause stopped after a June federal court decision, so federal leasing has restarted.

As President Joe Biden attended the United Nations conference on climate change and promised to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions "while making it more affordable for consumers to save on their own energy bills," a Republican congressman from Texas claimed the opposite.

In a one-minute speech on Oct. 28 in Congress, Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, claimed: "U.S. households are on track to spend $19 billion more on energy by 2030." That CSPAN video footage of his one-minute speech was tweeted by Williams on Nov. 1.

Is he right? And how will U.S. household energy costs change in the future?

American Petroleum Institute hypothetical analysis

When asked about Williams' source, his office pointed to an analysis from the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying organization for the oil and gas industry. The analysis was prepared for the institute by an energy consulting company, OnLocation Inc.

The analysis is specific to one Biden proposal from the campaign trail: a ban on oil and gas operations on federal lands and water. Williams highlighted this at the beginning of his speech.

The $19 billion figure comes from a September 2020 report prompted by a then-campaign promise by Biden to ban leasing and development for oil and gas operations on federal lands. The prediction is that U.S. households would spend a cumulative $19 billion more on energy by 2030 (in 2018 dollars).

The institute extrapolated from and modified the assumptions of a model by the U.S. Energy Information Administration under the U.S. Department of Energy, which tracks energy market data and develops outlooks for the future.

After Biden took office, he banned by executive order new leases for oil and gas production on public land and offshore waters until a review of the permitting and leasing program could be completed.

The 2020 analysis was based on the proposal to ban new leases and permitting on existing leases, while Biden's executive order was on just new leasing, a spokesperson from the American Petroleum Institute said.

However, the actual pause on leasing was brief because a federal court ordered in June for new leasing to resume. The Department of the Interior issued a release in August about the steps it took to comply with the preliminary injunction. The Justice Department also is appealing the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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A spokesperson from the Department of the Interior noted in a Nov. 17 email the pause on new leasing did not impact current oil and gas production.

So, in criticism of Biden's policies, Williams used a statistic specific to a campaign promise which is currently not in effect.

While the American Petroleum Institute does have an addendum to its analysis, the institute does not have a 2021 estimate of the potential effect on household energy costs if just new leasing remained on pause.

A spokesperson from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wrote in an email that under current laws and regulations, residential non-renewable energy expenditures are projected to increase by $18 billion (in 2020 dollars), from $247 billion to $265 billion.

Ultimately, household energy forecasting is challenging — household energy prices depend on a range of hard-to-predict factors. The Energy Information Administration issued caution in its "Annual Energy Outlook 2021" that many events, as well as future technology and demographics, can ultimately affect energy markets.

Our ruling

Williams said, "U.S. households are on track to spend $19 billion more on energy by 2030" because of Biden energy policies.

The figure was specific to banning all new leasing and development for oil and gas operations on federal lands and waters. A ban of that scale did not go into effect; only new leasing was banned. And that ban is currently blocked by a federal judge.

The statistic also speaks to only one Biden policy among many climate policies, some of which Biden claims aim to lower household costs.

It's difficult to forecast household energy prices because a lot of factors affect them, and analysts have to hold a lot of factors constant to make predictions.

For example, assuming laws and regulations remain the same, the Energy Information Administration estimates household expenditures will increase by $18 billion.

We rate this as claim as Half True, which means the statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

 

Our Sources

Tweet by Roger Williams, Nov. 1, 2021.

U.S. House of Representatives, House Session Part 1, Oct. 28, 2021.

Email from Halee Dobbins, press secretary for the Office of Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), Nov. 5, 2021.

Emails from Jessica Szymanski at the American Petroleum Institute, Nov. 15, 16 , and 22, 2021.

The White House, "Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad," Jan. 27, 2021.

Emails from Severin Borenstein, faculty director of The Energy Institute at the Haas School of Business, Nov. 16, 2021.

Emails from Chris Higginbotham, U.S. Energy Information Administration media relations, Nov. 16, 2021.

Email from Melissa Schwartz, communications director for the Office of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Nov. 17, 2021.

The White House, "Remarks by President Biden at the COP26 Leaders Statement," Nov. 1, 2021.

Kevin McGill, Associated Press, "Federal judge blocks Biden's pause on new oil, gas leases," June 15, 2021.

Kevin McGill, Associated Press, "Biden admin to appeal order blocking oil, gas lease pause," Aug. 16, 2021.

Department of the Interior, "FACT SHEET: President Biden to Take Action to Uphold Commitment to Restore Balance on Public Lands and Waters, Invest in Clean Energy Future," Jan. 27, 2021.

Department of the Interior, "Interior Department Files Court Brief Outlining Next Steps in Leasing Program," Aug. 24, 2021.

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Texas Rep. Roger Williams offers one estimate of household costs from Biden energy policies

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