Wicker Says American Energy Is the Key to Lowering Gas Prices

President Obama’s Decision to Use Strategic Petroleum Reserve Was Misguided and Ineffective

August 8, 2011

The summer driving season has come with little relief at the pump.  Gas prices are up 14 cents since the beginning of July, pushing national averages to $3.70 per gallon.  Mississippians are paying nearly a full dollar more per gallon now than we did this time last year.

The misguided energy policies of the Obama Administration have not softened the punch.  The White House resorted earlier this summer to tapping into our country’s emergency supply of crude oil after unrest in the Middle East sent fuel costs soaring.  Not surprisingly, the effect was short-lived.  Prices dipped for a mere five days before climbing northward again.  Over a month has passed, and they are still rising.

                      Real Measures, Not Quick-Fix Tactics

It is no wonder that the release of 30 million barrels from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) failed to make a dent in the oil market.  The SPR was established “to address true emergencies, not politically inconvenient high prices,” says Karen Harbert, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Institute.

President Obama’s use of the SPR for anything other than emergency relief abuses its purpose and jeopardizes our ability to respond to future catastrophes.  Such quick-fix tactics take attention away from the real measures we need to seriously deal with the high cost of gasoline.  This includes increasing our energy production here at home.

                      Making Better Use of Our Resources

The Congressional Research Service says the United States has the largest recoverable stores of natural gas, oil, and coal on Earth.  We have 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

Making the most of these resources would do more than increase supply and move us away from our dependence on foreign oil.  It would create jobs in an economy that desperately needs them.  Our oil and natural gas industries are responsible for more than 9 million jobs in this country, and there is plenty of room for this number to grow.       

The Obama Administration has repeatedly blocked efforts this year to end the de facto energy moratorium that continues to hold back our economic recovery.  According to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who chairs the National Resources Committee, expanding production could bring more than 1.2 million new jobs.  With unemployment at 9.1 percent, we do not need bureaucratic maneuvers standing in the way of job creation.

                         Quicker Permits, More Jobs

The President’s drilling moratorium last year has crippled our energy production in the Gulf of Mexico.  It put an estimated 40,000 jobs at risk in industries across the region, in addition to those directly related to the oil spill. 

Just last month, the information company IHS released a report that said quicker permitting procedures for projects in the Gulf could create almost 230,000 jobs in the next year alone.  The report said more permits could add $44 billion to the national economy, in addition to increasing tax revenues at the state and federal level.

Mississippi is ready for more energy investment.  The Fraser Institute in Canada named us the top site for oil and gas business in this year’s Global Petroleum Survey.  I will continue to fight for legislation that recognizes and encourages our energy potential.  We must reform the leasing process, remove unnecessary regulations, and utilize proven domestic resources if we want to create more jobs and see lower prices at the pump.