by Lamar Smith on March 16, 2011 at 12:23 PM
The recent surge in gas prices puts an added strain on families and small businesses already struggling in this difficult economic climate.
To address our energy needs and decrease our dependence on foreign oil, there are steps the U.S. can take immediately to protect ourselves from future energy price spikes.
I support an all-of-the-above energy approach that uses American-produced oil, coal and natural gas, as well as alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. This would create more American jobs and lower energy prices.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration’s policies are working to block or delay American energy production. The American people don’t want the Administration to wait any longer. Six in 10 Americans favor increasing offshore drilling for oil and gas in U.S. coastal areas, according to a new Gallup poll.
After last year’s oil spill in the Gulf, the Administration placed a moratorium on new shallow and deepwater drilling permits. But since the moratorium was lifted, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has issued only 37 new shallow water permits and one new permit for deepwater exploration.
According to the Obama Administration’s own estimates, the drilling moratorium has resulted in 122,000 lost jobs. Production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall 15 percent this year, and 26 percent in 2012, according to the Energy Information Agency.
The Administration should act now to expedite the drilling permit process and immediately restore shallow and deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
I recently co-sponsored a bipartisan resolution in the House, calling on the Secretary of the Interior to address America’s energy needs and streamline the approval of drilling permit applications. These delays on pending permits are unacceptable. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is vital not only to the livelihood of its residents, but also our economy and national security.
The moratorium and subsequent delay in approving drilling permits have also impacted offshore energy producers who operated responsibly in the Gulf. Those producers have been unfairly forced to remain idle since the drilling moratorium went into place. During this time, producers still pay expenses on the lease, without being able to continue exploration.
I am a co-sponsor of the recently introduced Lease Extension and Secure Energy (LEASE) Act of 2011, which extends for one year the exploratory leases impacted by the Interior Department’s moratorium.
The LEASE Act returns the time lost during the moratorium and provides certainty to leaseholders so that they can continue exploration without the looming lease expiration.
In addition to delaying approval of many offshore drilling permits, the Obama Administration is blocking other crucial measures to increase domestic energy production, like onshore production. Here in South Texas, onshore production at the Eagle Ford Shale has supported around 12,600 full-time jobs in the region last year alone, according to a study by the Center for Community and Business Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The study also found that the shale accounts for six percent of the Gross Regional Product in the area. The success of the Eagle Ford Shale could be replicated in areas around the country, but regulations imposed by the Administration are significantly decreasing onshore oil and gas production. Since 2005, Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leasing in the Rocky Mountain West has fallen by 67 percent. Developing onshore resources is critical to achieving energy independence.
Next week, I will hold a roundtable in San Antonio with local energy producers, researchers and creators of alternative energy. I want to hear from people who work across all fields of energy production, because no one area of production will provide the lone solution to this problem. Each energy production sector will play a vital role in decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and boosting economic growth.
I will continue pushing for an energy approach that utilizes our own resources to protect Americans from surging gas prices in the future. I hope that the Administration will take concrete steps now to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create more American jobs.