It’s hard to believe it was only a few short years ago that our nation’s energy industry was humming on all cylinders, a drastic contrast to what we’re seeing today.

Tom Widroe

Tom Widroe

As war in eastern Europe shows no signs of stopping, the whole world is on edge as we enter unprecedented times and what many are declaring to be an energy crisis.

While many people associate the cost of energy with what they pay for gas, the impacts of high energy prices go much deeper than that, touching almost every aspect of our daily life. Couple these high energy prices with the ongoing inflation we are already experiencing, and this spells trouble for everyday Americans.

In rural California and especially right here in Santa Barbara County, residents are being hammered by skyrocketing costs. Housing, gas, groceries, durable goods all spiking to unprecedented levels.

Those hurt the most are working-class families that drive their kids to school, buy the most food, travel for work, pay their taxes and make up the backbone of our economy.

However, rest assured, we did not end up in this situation by chance. Rather, we are seeing the results of short-sighted decisions made by members of our federal government who have repeatedly and vehemently discounted the importance of the American energy industry. Their crusade against sound energy policy has impoverished us all while simultaneously putting our national security at risk.

Over the past two years, we’ve seen the federal government cancel key energy projects, restrict access to new drilling permits on federal lands, and entertain additional taxes on the American energy industry.

It’s actions like these that have taken us from the energy superpower of the world to a country that is currently calling upon the likes of Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates to help boost global production.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. America is home to some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves anywhere in the world and has an industry that is ready to step up to the plate.

We wouldn’t be in this situation if the federal government would spend more time working alongside our energy industry to approve the 4,621 permits to drill that are pending before the Bureau of Land Management or the 2,200 federal leases in court that cannot be developed while being litigated.

Not to mention, the American energy industry has been dragged through the mud and for what reason? The industry has continually proved its ability to become more sustainable, lowering emissions related to the production of oil and gas by nearly 60%. It has also served as a major driver of our nation’s economy, contributing nearly $1.7 trillion toward the growth of our nation’s gross domestic product.

The time for our nation to return to energy independence is right now. The wrongheaded decisions coming out of Washington must be reversed or this energy crisis is only going to get worse.

— Tom Widroe is executive director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tom Widroe

Tom Widroe

Tom Widroe is executive director of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. The opinions expressed are his own.