During the State of the Union address, President Biden prompted a mix of laughs and groans from Congress when he conceded that "we're going to need oil for at least another decade." Beneath the din, if you listened closely, he added "and beyond that … we're going to need it."
While it was gratifying to hear President Biden acknowledge the critical role natural gas and oil play in meeting our nation's future energy needs, he could have taken a moment to expand on his comment and outline — even briefly — his thoughts on energy policy that would strengthen our national security and ensure Americans have access to affordable and reliable energy deep into the future.
But he didn't, so my thoughts about his overall address turned to what he could have said, rather than what he did say.
For example, he could have addressed when the U.S. Department of the Interior intends to reinstitute the five-year program for federal offshore oil and natural gas leasing that lapsed more than 225 days ago.
At the very least, he could have offered a high-level solution to the permitting delays that have resulted in a lack of sufficient infrastructure to move energy from production areas to the places where it is needed most by American families. The administration's permitting paralysis has allowed protracted and uncertain review processes to impact 10 major natural gas and oil infrastructure projects, including four natural gas pipeline projects that together could have supported 4.6 billion cubic feet per day of production in Appalachia.
Additionally, when touting his administration's ability to solve the energy crisis, he could have touched on the ways natural gas and oil meet our nation's climate and environmental goals, including the significant reductions in the nation's power sector emissions due to increased natural gas use.
But he didn't.
Not only did he avoid the issues above, but he also didn't introduce the notion of a long-term energy policy, most likely because no such policy language exists.
President Biden could have succinctly explained his administration's energy views in the address, but that may have meant acknowledging its consistent failure to advance policies that would return America to its position as the world's energy leader, and that doesn't really constitute positive State of the Union fodder.
He acknowledged the future need for natural gas and oil, but he did not discuss the means for ensuring these resources will be available, affordable and abundant, which is critical to our nation's energy security. When the Biden administration truly grasps the real value of American natural gas and oil, our Union will be much better off.
Chris Zeigler is executive director of the American Petroleum Institute.