Tapping America's Energy Future

published in 10/13/2011 Edition of Vernal (UT) Express

Oct 25 2011

President Obama has spent weeks telling Congress to pass his flawed second stimulus bill, which he erroneously believes will put Americans back to work with another round of wasteful government spending on bloated programs and failed investments.

Noticeably absent from the president’s agenda, however, is a significant push to tap more of our vast natural resources in order to expand domestic energy production and achieve energy independence for the first time in decades. To simply ignore the potential that lies beneath American soil is to handicap the nation’s economic future.

An aggressive domestic energy plan would create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new jobs at a time when they are desperately needed. A recent study by consulting firm Wood Mackenzie found that over 1.4 million jobs would be created in the United States—50,000 in Utah by 2020—by adopting a variety of pro-energy policies, including re-opening the outer continental shelf to oil and natural gas exploration and production, approving the Keystone XL pipeline that will deliver oil from Canada, and easing excessive restrictions on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The study supports the notion that federal bureaucracy is strangling job growth, and that the best job creation program Washington can adopt is getting the government out of the way.

Unlike President Obama’s plan, which borrows close to $500 billion from China and increases our national debt, cutting red tape doesn’t cost a dime. In fact, making the described changes in policy could produce hundreds of billions of dollars in additional government revenue over the next twenty years.

If we give businesses the freedom to move the country towards energy independence, the effects will be enormous. Wood Mackenzie estimates the equivalent of nearly 60 billion barrels of oil in combined oil and natural gas would be made available. By 2030, those additional reserves would increase total U.S. oil and gas energy production by nearly 50% over current policy projections.

The American Gas Association estimates that the amount of recoverable natural gas that exists in the United States would be enough to last for more than a century. We can power a renewed American economy for decades by merely taking advantage of what’s sitting right under our feet.

Congress is already considering legislation that would move the country towards that goal. The American Energy and Western Jobs Act (S. 1027) would streamline the oil and natural gas leasing process while encouraging the exploration of oil shale resources in the West, and require President Obama to create goals for American oil and natural gas production in the region.

The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act (S. 1226/H.R. 2021) would eliminate uncertainty and confusion caused by the EPA’s decision-making process for air permits. The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act (S. 706/H.R. 1287) would create a timeframe for environmental and judicial review of energy projects, require the Interior Department to move forward with offshore energy exploration, and open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil and natural gas exploration.

The good ideas are not limited to fossil fuels. The Utilizing America’s Federal Lands for Wind Energy Act (H.R. 2172) would streamline the application process for renewable energy projects on federal property. The Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act (S. 1470/H.R. 2171) would do the same for various proposed geothermal projects. These bills, and others, can be part of a permanent solution to our nation’s energy dependence problems.

There is no better time for Americans to begin the process of fulfilling the potential created by our bountiful energy resources. President Obama may want to stretch the national credit card to benefit favored political groups, but such a plan is fundamentally irresponsible when there are simple, straightforward ways to take advantage of proven methods of energy production that will actually help to shrink the deficit as they expand American payrolls. Congress should support the policies that will truly win the future.