D.C. Can Slow Rising Gas Prices

Rep. Darrell Issa
Politico
05/12/2011

As gas prices across the United States approach four dollars a gallon, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that political agendas and the administration’s bureaucratic delays do not block efforts to lower energy costs and use our nation’s abundant natural resources. Increasing oil and gas production – both offshore and on –is essential to our energy future.

We need to rely far more on hydraulic fracturing, a proven, safe technology.. We must also eliminate the excessive regulatory barriers to offshore drilling. With this, Washington can pave the way to an independent energy future.

While the opponents of domestic energy exploration disseminate questionable analysis that relies on scare tactics to prolong our dependence on foreign sources, Congress must make sure that the American people know the facts.

The U.S. has greater energy resources than any other nation on earth. This includes 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil – enough to meet current usage levels and replace all imports for 50 years. We also have more coal deposits than any other nation, and enough natural gas to meet demand for 90 years.

Yet these resources are being kept out of reach because of an intense regulatory bias and radical environmental activists — both in the administration and elsewhere.

In the last year, the Gulf coast economy was severely hurt by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Residents have told Oversight Committee investigators that the administration’s efforts to delay or stop offshore oil production have undermined their efforts to rebuild local economies as well as blocking the way to energy independence.

To date, 12 oil rigs have left the Gulf for other countries — including Egypt and Brazil. Gulf energy production will decrease this year. Yet the administration has slowed the permit approval process dramatically. Since President Barack Obama ended his moratorium on offshore drilling in October, only a handful of new permits have been granted.

Similarly, hydraulic fracturing for onshore oil and natural gas deposits is under attack. Despite its safe use for 60 years in more than 1 million wells in the U.S. and the promise of reducing our oil imports by more than half over the next 10 years, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are caving to radical environmentalists who demand new, onerous regulations against the industry.

The Energy Department has gone so far as to convene a panel charged with designing the “best practices” for industry safety. Naturally, the panel does not include a single practitioner of hydraulic fracturing — but does include the president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee has examined these and other energy independence issues through hearings, on-scene investigations in gulf communities, and document examination. The problems are clear; the solutions known.

The United States cannot afford to leave our domestic petroleum resources untapped. And we cannot rely upon foreign suppliers in a politically unstable world. The longer we wait, the more difficult our predicament will become.

Economic hardships from rising energy prices are being felt across the country. Just last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that our fragile economic recovery could be held back by higher fuel prices. Consumer spending will almost certainly decline, and the American public will forego investment opportunities.

As April unemployment figures crept back up to 9 percent, the economic hazard from rising energy costs is very real.

Congress, however, has an opportunity to change this and free up opportunities to explore and produce our own national resources; to create private sector jobs, and to address the costly bias against domestic energy production.

The choice is not and has never been between technologies that lower energy usage and those that increase production. The United States needs both.

By renewing our commitment to safe domestic oil and gas exploration and deploying new energy technologies that tap our nation’s vast natural resources we can obtain that long elusive goal of energy independence.

Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government and Reform.