In the Missoulian: Tester is exactly right we shouldn’t be buying oil from Iran and Venezuela, but Biden’s nominees are destroying our domestic energy production

Mar 17, 2022 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott has a new piece at the Missoulian that discusses how the Biden administration is using financial regulations to achieve gun control and destroy the US domestic oil and gas production.

Some Democrats are pushing back on President Biden’s plan to buy oil from totalitarian governments like Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. “We shouldn’t be advancing other countries who don’t share our values,” said Sen. Jon Tester last week. Tester is exactly right. But Biden is working hard to destroy all our domestic energy industries, and, unfortunately, Senator Jon Tester keeps supporting Biden’s radical nominees who are implementing these policies.

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Biden is using all the regulatory tools at his disposal to “debank” those industries he doesn’t like. That means he will force financial institutions not to do business with these companies. Try running a company if you can’t find a financial institution that will handle your checks or the credit cards for your customers or establish lines of credit for you.

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Biden’s nominee to be the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin, has repeatedly urged regulators to force banks to defund America’s domestic oil and gas industry and other industries that she doesn’t like. In the position of Vice Chair, she would have the power to do just that. Two weeks ago Tester declared his support for Raskin, but Democrat Joe Manchin killed the nomination by opposing her.

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At the end of January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced it would use its regulatory authority to scrutinize how credit rating agencies compile “environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)” evaluations of companies. Right at the top of these regulators list of “socially” irresponsible companies are gun makers and sellers. Companies with lower credit ratings would have to pay higher interest rates and higher business costs. Tester voted for Gary Gensler as Biden nominee to head the agency.

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But even putting aside the possible civil and criminal charges that these agencies can bring, no financial institution wants extra audits or investigations from regulators.

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Federal acquisition decisions are also going to use ESG ratings. For example, last fall, the Biden Labor Department stated that it “may often require an evaluation of the economic effects of climate change and other ESG factors on the particular investment or investment course of action” for workplace retirement plans —401(k)s and 403(b)s. This means that Biden could force retirement accounts to make “socially desirable” investments with lower rates of return.

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Biden wants to revive Obama’s Operation Chokepoint. Obama had government agencies warn the financial institutions they regulated that the government considered certain types of their customers “high risk,” such as those in the fossil fuels and firearms industries. Trump killed the program, and in one of the last executive actions of his administration, he tried to implement rules that would prevent Obama’s Operation Chokepoint from being implemented again. He wanted to prevent the federal government from discriminating against law-abiding companies producing legal products, but Biden killed the reform. 

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One could debate whether we should have a natural gas or oil industry. But Biden can’t claim that he wants to reduce gas and heating oil prices while working to destroy production in the United States. Likewise, Biden can’t claim he supports the Second Amendment as he lets regulators put gun makers and sellers out of business. We can’t ignore that the people who benefit the most from owning guns are the most likely victims of violent crime – poor blacks in high-crime urban areas.

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So, Democrats destroy the businesses they don’t like. Should Republicans start discriminating against the companies that Democrats like? 

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Put aside all the very anti-Second Amendment federal judges that Biden is nominating and Tester is consistently voting for. Biden’s regulators are the most direct immediate threat. Something to remember as the prices of gas and guns rise.

John R. Lott, Jr. “Tester is exactly right we shouldn’t be buying oil from Iran and Venezuela, but Biden’s nominees are destroying our domestic energy production,” The Missoulian, March 17, 2022.
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