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Stable supply will reduce pinch on wallets

By Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon)

Washington, April 9, 2012
Tags: Energy

One issue that affects nearly everyone in our area and across the country is gas prices.  There is no doubt that high energy prices have placed a real burden on many Americans. And, from small business owners to parents who drive carpool, chances are that the cost of gas is hitting your wallet hard.

Some predict that we will see near or above $5 per gallon at the pump by peak driving time this summer.  Many experts believe that the recent turmoil overseas is one of the reasons for rapidly increasing gas prices.  And while things happening in the Middle East drive up the world price of oil, the President has only made things worse with the anti-fossil fuel agenda being implemented by this Administration.

Of course, the federal government does not directly control the price you pay at the pump.  We do know, however, that this Administration has prevented actions that could promote stable prices through production of more oil and gas here at home.  Among other things you have heard by now, the President has limited drilling off our shores and on federal lands.  He continues to threaten tax increases on the entire oil and gas industry; he has vetoed the full-length of the Keystone XL pipeline; and he has sent out EPA regulators to harass drillers.  The Administration and its allies are also working hard to discredit fracking and other successful technologies like horizontal drilling.  And I think, unfortunately, the cost of energy will continue to increase if the President continues along this course.

Just look at what has happened over the last three years.  In 2009, the Administration listed carbon dioxide as a hazardous pollutant, opening the door for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.  The decision, in effect, granted more regulatory control to the EPA and its bureaucrats in Washington to govern through regulation.

In 2010, the President effectively reinstated the ban on offshore drilling, placing the entire Pacific Coast, the entire Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Gulf and parts of Alaska off limits to future production until 2017 at the earliest.  In 2011, the President proposed a budget that included over $60 billion in direct tax and fee increases on American energy production.  And, already in 2012, the President announced a plan to close over a million acres of public land in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to oil shale development.

Many officials from the White House have argued that domestic oil and natural gas production is up.  It has increased on private lands, but it has decreased on land controlled by the federal government.  And the reality is that the increase has been in spite of this Administration, not because of them.  Energy production on private lands is up because of improved recovery methods like fracking, not the Administration’s policies. 

The more stable the supply of energy, the more stable the price.  It is that simple.  And people are tired of excuses for tying our own hands and not producing all of the energy we can here at home.  My proposal, the “No More Excuses Energy Act of 2011 (H.R. 1023),” is a common sense plan that encourages responsible domestic energy production of all kinds here in the United States.  The bill seeks to remove some of the most burdensome regulatory roadblocks that limit our domestic supply of energy.  Among other provisions, the bill requires the President to designate at least 10 sites for oil or natural gas refineries on federal lands; it opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling; and it removes carbon dioxide from the list of pollutants amended to the Clean Air Act.  Overall, this legislation seeks to increase the production of American energy with American workers. 

In fact, a study by the American Petroleum Institute (API) found that changes in federal energy policies could add nearly 1.1 million energy-related jobs over the next decade.  The study notes that federal regulation changes, such as expanding drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and approving the Keystone XL pipeline, could create jobs from coast to coast, increase domestic oil production, and lead to projected federal revenues of $803 billion by 2030.

As you may know, Texas leads the nation in production of crude oil and natural gas.  Texas is also home to at least one-third of the jobs created nationwide since the recession.  Data recently released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis highlighted the strength of the Texas economy in a report which found that Texas surpassed nearly $1 trillion in economic output and gained nearly a full percentage point in its share of the U.S. economy during the last decade.  A report released in August 2011 highlights how other energy-producing states—North Dakota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia— have ranked among the top job markets for the previous 3½ years.  And one of these states, North Dakota, has an unemployment figure of 3.1 percent, currently the lowest in the nation. 

We can—and should—create jobs and bring down the cost of energy by implementing commonsense domestic energy policies.  It is time to stop making excuses and get the government out of the way when it comes to a whole variety of things, including our energy resources.  It is the right thing to do for gas prices, for the American people, and for the economy. 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) serves as the Vice Chairman of the Armed Services Committee where he leads the subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.  He also serves as a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, and recently chaired the House GOP Cybersecurity Task Force.