A Comprehensive Energy Plan Is Crucial
By Senator John Barrasso and Congressman Steve Pearce
President Barack Obama told Congress he would “keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it.” Western Republicans have laid out a clear path to energy security and job creation. The president should listen to it and embrace it.
The House passed 10 key pieces of legislation over the past year that will begin to generate quality jobs and increase U.S. energy production. These bills, part of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucus’s Jobs Frontier report, tackle critical issues such as encouraging energy exploration and production and removing unnecessary Environmental Protection Agency regulations. This legislation would create thousands of jobs for Americans.
The Senate Western Caucus is due to introduce the Western Economic Security Today Act on Wednesday. This bill contains language from eight bills already passed by the House that were part of the Jobs Frontier report. These specific bills include the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Act Now and the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, among others.
This legislation will make it easier for U.S. energy producers to create new jobs by removing EPA regulations. It also increases access to federal public lands and waters by streamlining the energy permitting process. The bottom line is that this act is ready to create jobs now and set the nation on the path to becoming more energy secure.
A comprehensive energy plan is crucial. We need to increase access to our supplies of natural gas, petroleum and critical minerals, while also developing alternative energies such as wind and solar power. This combination will create high-paying jobs, increase U.S. energy production and bring down the cost of gasoline. It will also generate revenue that the federal government can use to begin paying off our immense national debt.
With an all-the-above energy approach, our country will be one step closer to reaching our goal of energy security.
If we fail to act on this legislation, the Obama administration’s burdensome regulations will continue to stand in the way of the good jobs and energy the West can generate. With unemployment rates hovering at 8.2 percent nationwide and at a staggering 10.1 percent in the West, we need to take action now.
If we don’t, Washington regulations will continue to block energy production. In 2011 alone, there was a 14 percent decrease in oil production on federal public lands and waters from 2010. There was an 11 percent decrease in gas production from 2010.
With Americans feeling the pain at the pump, we cannot afford to continue with the Obama administration’s anti-U.S. energy policies.
So far, the only energy plan the president and Senate Democrats have offered includes increasing taxes on U.S. energy production, blaming oil speculators, delaying oil and gas leasing permits and blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Instead of encouraging new energy projects to lower the price of gas, the president’s solution is to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and plead with Saudi Arabia to produce more oil.
Americans know this is not in the best interest of our national security.
There are things the president can do right now to address high energy prices and create jobs. After the president said all suggestions were on the table, we wrote him last year, offering him the solutions included in the Jobs Frontier report. These solutions would increase U.S. energy production without jeopardizing our national security.
We have received no response from the White House to date. It’s baffling to us that the president and Senate Democrats continue to stand behind their nonsensical regulations, while Americans are suffering the consequences of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
If the president and Senate Democrats are serious about expanding our economy and lowering the price of gasoline for Americans, they’ll join us in supporting passage of the WEST Act.
With thousands of quality jobs, increased energy security and the promise of a better future waiting, what are we waiting for?
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is chairman of the Senate Western Caucus. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) is chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.