By Congressman Mike Simpson
“Since President Obama’s first presidential campaign, he has said that he supports an “all of the above” strategy for our nation’s energy policy. This is a popular phrase used by Members of Congress across the political spectrum in recent years. That is because there is a consensus that a growing and thriving economy requires stable and affordable energy supplies that come from diverse sources. In order to achieve this, our energy portfolio must include the traditional energy source like nuclear, hydro, coal, oil, and natural gas as well as incorporating more recent technologies that allow us to harness more renewable sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and others.
“Unfortunately, President Obama’s rhetoric does not match his policies. In the nearly five years that he has been President, his Administration has offered more roadblocks than solutions to advancing our country toward energy independence. For example, although our country still heavily relies on imported oil, the Obama Administration continues to block permits for increased domestic energy production on our public lands with a myriad of bureaucratic hurdles and red tape.
“We have the capacity to become energy independent if we can align our policies with safe development of our own resources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has enough natural gas that is technically recoverable to sustain current consumption levels for over 90 years. In fact, as a result of oil and gas production on non-federal land, during the years of 2011 and 2012, the United States added a total of more than 850,000 barrels per day of oil production. The Congressional Research Service has reported that U.S. oil production has reached levels not seen in more than a decade. On the other hand, between 2007-2012, U.S. oil production fell by almost seven percent on federal lands, where approval from the Obama Administration is necessary.
“Not only does increasing our domestic production of energy enhance our national security by allowing us to rely less on foreign sources of energy, it also creates jobs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released a report that shows a major spike in employment in the oil and gas industry relative to the rest of private sector employment. The report found that from 2007-2012, ‘total U.S. private sector employment increased by more than one million jobs, about one percent. Over the same period, the oil and natural gas industry increased by more than 162,000 jobs, a 40 percent increase.’
“One way that President Obama could demonstrate that he truly supports an “all of the above” strategy would be to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. A new study released last week confirmed what the State Department’s initial assessment already found: the Keystone XL pipeline will not impact greenhouse gas emissions. If this project does not move forward, Canadian oil sands will make their way to market through alternative means. That would result in nothing more than a missed opportunity for billions dollars of investment, thousands of jobs created, and an unquestionable boost to the American economy.
“As a nation, we must continue looking for ways to reduce energy prices and improve our energy independence. I strongly believe that our efforts should be comprehensive in nature and that we should explore every opportunity to develop viable traditional as well as alternative energy sources. I hope that the President can embrace a more realistic approach to our nation’s energy policy by taking steps towards realizing the potential of our own energy abundance. By easing his Administration’s burdensome policies, we can decrease unemployment while increasing our national security; two things that should be a priority for all of us.”