The Hill: Senate Republicans challenge Obama on energy push
April 6, 2011
Posted by Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov
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Senate Republicans challenge Obama on energy push
By Ben Geman
A group of Senate Republicans is urging President Obama to use his recently announced review of regulatory burdens to examine energy policies that they claim are blocking U.S. oil production and adding to higher energy prices.
The Republicans are circulating a letter they intend to send to Obama later Wednesday, an attack that comes as the White House is placing a heavy emphasis on its energy strategies. Obama is appearing at a wind turbine plant later Wednesday, the latest in a series of energy-related events.
"We believe the Administration hereby has the keys to unlock our domestic energy potential today. As this review is underway, and with recognition of the toll higher energy prices are taking on Americans, we respectfully encourage you to examine the damage these current policies are having on the economy, and to work to reconcile these contradictions," states the letter signed thus far by John Cornyn (Texas), James Inhofe (Okla.), David Vitter (La.), John Thune (S.D.) and several others.
Obama is touting an energy "blueprint" that emphasizes vehicle efficiency, biofuels, electric cars, low-carbon power sources, domestic natural gas and other steps.
But Republicans are bashing what they call undue limits on offshore drilling and Environmental Protection Agency climate change regulations they allege will hinder businesses.
Votes are expected in the House and Senate Wednesday on GOP-backed plans to kill EPA's greenhouse gas rules. The measure is expected to pass the House but lacks 60 Senate votes.
Here is the whole letter:
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As rising gasoline prices threaten our nation's economic recovery, we welcome your acknowledgement of the positive impact which increased domestic supplies of oil and gas will have for American families and businesses. In your speech on March 30, you stated, "producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, create jobs, and enhance our energy security."
We agree, and we also share the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It is an achievable goal, as we know we have the resources to control our energy future. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service detailed our vast energy resources, showing America's recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined. America's combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth -and this is without including America's immense oil shale and methane hydrates deposits.
However, it is not just rhetoric that is keeping us from achieving the goals you outlined of lowering energy prices, creating jobs, and reducing our reliance on foreign energy. Rather, we are concerned that these goals are in direct conflict with certain ongoing actions of your Administration. In particular, the policies being carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) directly and negatively impact oil and gas production and prices, as well as electricity prices for businesses and consumers. These policies hang heavy over the economy, with the promise of making our existing energy resources more expensive for Americans, and serve to inhibit future growth.
With consumers again facing $4.00/gallon gasoline, the EPA is pursuing job-killing greenhouse gas regulations that, like the failed cap-and-trade legislation, will serve as an energy tax on every consumer. The Affordable Power Alliance recently studied the impacts of this action and found that the price of gasoline and electricity could increase as much as 50 percent. To make matters worse, the EPA acknowledges that unilateral action by the United States will have no impact on the world's climate, as China and India dramatically increase their emissions.
You also referenced efforts within the Administration to encourage domestic oil and gas production, yet since taking office, DOI has done exactly the opposite. In 2009, 77 oil and gas leases in Utah were cancelled, and the following year 61 additional leases were suspended in Montana. In December 2010, your Administration announced that its 2012-2017 lease plan would not include new areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast - though these two areas hold commercial oil reserves of 28 billion barrels and up to 142 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Delaying access to these areas not only hinders the production of domestic energy, but also means the loss of up to $24 billion in federal revenue. In Alaska, the EPA has failed to issue valid air quality permits for offshore exploration after over 5 years of bureaucratic wrangling, although no human health risk is at issue and over 25 billion barrels of oil may be discovered. EPA has also contributed to the continuing delay of production from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska - an area specifically designated by Congress for oil and gas development.
Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003. The Energy Information Administrator (EIA) Richard Newell recently pointed out that the 2010 production numbers are likely the result of new leases issued during the previous administration that are just recently beginning to produce oil. Unfortunately, in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore energy production is expected to decrease by 13 percent in 2011. This decrease is cited as the result of the moratorium and the slow pace of permitting. EIA's most recent short-term energy outlook projects that domestic crude oil and liquid fuels production is expected to fall by 110,000 bbl/d in 2011, and by a further 130,000 bbl/d in 2012. To date, only 8 deepwater permits have been issued during the past 12 months, and most of these operations were started before the Macondo well blowout.
At your State of the Union Address, you called for a review of job-killing regulations within your Administration. We believe the Administration hereby has the keys to unlock our domestic energy potential today. As this review is underway, and with recognition of the toll higher energy prices are taking on Americans, we respectfully encourage you to examine the damage these current policies are having on the economy, and to work to reconcile these contradictions.