Last year, families, businesses and communities in Kentucky’s Fourth District were forced to make tough choices in order to afford the soaring cost of energy. This painful experience taught us that our energy supply will not always be abundant, reliable or affordable. While it is tempting to think our energy crisis has ended now that oil prices have dropped, Americans cannot afford for Congress to become complacent. We must not abandon our goal of creating a new American energy strategy.
Months of four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline prices last year placed additional stress on Americans at a time when we were already coping with the early stages of a recession. As the recession worsened, demand for oil dropped and prices declined. For now, prices remain low due to the depressed condition of the global economy. However, the basic supply issues have not changed. Until we take steps to increase our domestic energy supply, we can be certain that an even more painful and widespread energy crisis lies ahead.
Adopting a comprehensive American energy strategy would quickly stimulate our economy and would help ensure long-term economic stability. We must explore all our energy options, from offshore drilling and oil shale exploration to wind and solar energy development, in order to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, keep our energy costs low and create thousands of new jobs, right here at home. Just by increasing our offshore energy production, the American Energy Alliance says we could create 1.2 million new jobs in the U.S.
Unfortunately, President Barack Obama recently stalled the development of new American energy resources. In early February, the Obama Administration cancelled seventy-seven oil and gas leases over 100,000 acres of public land in Utah. Additionally, the Administration imposed new hurdles for energy companies hoping to obtain leases for offshore oil and gas exploration. By delaying American energy development, President Obama is postponing the creation of hundreds of thousands of well-paid private sector jobs and forcing us to continue sending billions of American dollars to foreign economies.
According to the Department of Energy, the United States spends over five hundred billion dollars on energy each year; in 2008, America spent $438 billion on foreign oil alone. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service estimates that eighty-six billion barrels of oil could be available for extraction in the waters off America’s coasts. That is enough oil to satisfy U.S. demand for more than a decade. At the current price of $39 a barrel, that adds up to more than $3 trillion that could be put back into our economy without spending taxpayer dollars.
We have been repeatedly told we must bailout bad decisions and bad actors, but we are ignoring many simple steps that would foster American entrepreneurship and ingenuity. I was disappointed that the President took this action without considering the job creation he was stifling in the process.
I hope to work with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress to craft an energy policy that will help to reinvigorate our economy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect us from future energy shortages by allowing us to responsibly develop more of our own resources.
Congressman Geoff Davis