Meeting America’s Energy Needs

April 25, 2011

Earlier this month, I joined 28 other Senators to send a letter to the President urging his Administration to stop stifling American energy production.  We wrote, “the policies being carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior directly and negatively impact oil and gas production and prices…”  As we approach the summer months when demand for gas spikes, we should unlock our supply to help alleviate the skyrocketing price and create good jobs throughout the country.

Last week marked the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.  Following that tragic event, President Obama issued an ill-conceived moratorium on offshore drilling permits and many onshore exploration permits in North Dakota, Montana, and other landlocked states.  This blanket ban on America’s resources dramatically slowed responsible efforts to produce the energy we need with gas prices in Mississippi averaging $3.67 per gallon according to AAA.

                              Production in the Gulf

Because of the moratorium, energy production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to decrease by 13 percent in 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration.  Overall U.S. production is projected to drop by 110,000 barrels per day this year.  As of earlier this month, only 8 deepwater permits have been issued during the past twelve months.  Arbitrarily limiting permits for responsible energy producers forces the U.S. to import more energy from foreign sources.

                         Other Areas Discovering Supplies

While the U.S. is often depicted as possessing a small percentage of the world's oil, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) compiled a report in late 2009, which estimates that America is endowed with 167 billion barrels of recoverable oil.  The most recent energy gains have come from states like North Dakota with less federal intrusion, which is not a coincidence.  Oil shale deposits are predominantly located in areas of the country where the States regulate oil and gas, not the federal government.

The same CRS study shows America's combined recoverable natural gas, oil, and coal endowment is the largest on earth.  This is far larger than the reserves of Saudi Arabia, China, or Canada.  We have the resources to meet our energy needs, but red tape and the lack of a comprehensive energy policy hamper attempts to achieve this goal.

                             All of the Above Strategy

To help spur the Administration to act, I co-sponsored The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011.  This ‘all of the above’ approach directs the Secretary of Interior to conduct a lease sale in each Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), opens Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and establishes a reasonable time frame on the review process for energy projects.  Each of these actions would help promote domestic production, easing supply concerns and prompting job creation.  OCS production alone could generate 1.2 million additional full-time jobs.

In March, a federal judge called the Administration’s permitting delays “inexcusable,” and most Americans agree with nearly 7 in 10 Americans supporting renewed offshore energy exploration, according to a recent CNN poll.  I will continue to support strategies that promote new energy technology but place a priority on utilizing and developing the resources we have available today.  With gas prices rising, the President should adopt this policy too.