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The next time you find yourself forking over $60, $70, even $80 to fill up your tank, remember: It doesn’t have to be this way. The pain at the pump Americans are enduring — including the $4 per gallon West Virginians are paying — was not inevitable. It was a choice.

President Joe Biden ran for president promising to “end fossil fuel.” He argues that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is to change people’s behavior using government sticks and carrots. The political left has tried to use top-down mandates and policies to reduce emissions for years, but these top-down approaches have not proven effective.

A better way is to remove barriers to voluntary efficiency and environmental stewardship, reduce restrictions on new market entrants, and streamline permitting and licensing requirements for all types of energy innovation.

All the oil and gas leases the Biden administration halted have not significantly reduced U.S. or global emissions. We still need oil and gas to live our lives to the fullest. The president has only forced Americans to buy our fuel from far-away tyrants, instead of accessing our own.

This is the opposite of how we can make environmental progress — and have for more than a decade. You’d never know it to listen to alarmists but, in recent years, the United States has seen a significant drop in emissions. It’s not because Washington fought the energy industry, but because the energy industry’s fracking technology made cleaner-burning natural gas more abundant and affordable. That is, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by producing more energy.

Markets aren’t magic — they’re just relentlessly innovative, if permitted to be. Biden has chosen to attack them for a long, painful year. But a course correction is needed — especially as the war in Ukraine has thrown the global oil industry into uncertainty. An energy-abundance agenda, born of an optimistic mentality, can kick-start our energy industry and our struggling economy.

With even modest center-left support, Congress could pass major legislation already written and ready to go.

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The National Environmental Policy Act has evolved from an environmental protection policy to one that strangles economic development. With the president’s support, reforms like Sen. Mike Lee’s UNSHACKLE Act, could move forward in the House and Senate.

Adopting Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ Strategic Production Response Act would protect the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from political manipulation while also opening federal land to more energy production.

Congress also could pass the Paris Transparency and Accountability Act, to ensure the United States does not enter into any international climate agreements without the consent of our elected representatives.

At the state level, lawmakers should double down on ensuring they have final say over would-be national standards set by federal bureaucrats. Just because Washington clings, bitterly, to its regulations and mandates doesn’t mean the rest of us have to sit by and let them dictate terms to the entire country.

Just as technological innovation comes from the competitive cooperation of free markets, so policy innovation comes from a cooperative federalism that gives diverse states flexibility to find their own best paths. The Environmental Protection Agency works for us, not the other way around.

West Virginia’s congressional representatives are perfectly positioned to spend 2022 leading both parties toward new policies that boost job creation with innovation, instead of regulation, all while reducing emissions — the two are not mutually exclusive. And, as Mountaineers struggle to afford energy, they should continue sending this message to Washington.

Jason Huffman is state director of the lobbyist group Americans for Prosperity-West Virginia.

Chris Hudson is vice president of government affairs at Americans for Prosperity.

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