The Pathway to North American Energy Independence
Energy policies and prices are moving in the wrong direction. For example, oil and gas production on federal lands are down, and the national average price of regular gasoline is currently $3.76 per gallon – that’s more than double what prices were when President Obama took office. Prices near $4.00 are becoming the “new normal” at gas stations across the country. President Obama continues to tell us, “We can’t drill our way out of this problem,” and he downplays America's tremendous energy potential with a misleading claim that, “We only have two percent of the world’s oil reserves.” But the president’s view ignores our vast untapped energy resources and his policies prevent us from fully harnessing them. The good news is, Republicans have a plan to pursue a brighter energy future.
In the past five years, North America has been the fastest growing oil and natural gas producing area of the world due to technological advances in the energy sector. This dramatic growth in domestic production has shattered previous notions that the U.S. was running out of oil and gas reserves, and has put the goal of North American energy independence within reach. The U.S. and its North American allies now have the capacity to become independently energy secure.
The U.S. currently consumes approximately 18 million barrels per day of petroleum and produces about 9 million barrels per day. The U.S. imports another 3 million barrels per day from from Canada and Mexico. That leaves 6 million barrels a day imported from overseas. With the right public policies, enough new energy supplies can come online to eliminate the need for imported oil from OPEC and other hostile sources.
Steps Toward North American Energy Independence
1) Approving Keystone XL
If constructed, the pipeline expansion would transport approximately 1 million additional barrels per day of crude oil from Canada and North Dakota to U.S. refineries – roughly doubling the pipeline system’s current capacity. A Department of Energy analysis projects that the increased energy supplies and gains in energy efficiency could “essentially eliminate” U.S. dependence on Middle East oil.
2) Eliminating Permitting Hurdles in the Gulf of Mexico
After years of investment in projects that were decades in the making, the Gulf of Mexico was originally projected to be a growth area in domestic production. However, because of the Obama administration’s moratorium and permitting delays, we actually saw a reversal in that trend, with production in the Gulf declining from 2010 to 2011 by nearly 17 percent. Returning the Gulf to full production is critical to meeting our nation’s energy goals. By reducing permitting hurdles in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. could increase production there by another 2.5 million barrels a day. It currently takes four times as long to get a project approved under the Obama administration compared to previous presidents.
3) Don’t Add New Red Tape
Experts predict that the U.S. will continue to experience this energy boom for years to come on state and private lands where the federal government is only minimally involved (and where states are effectively regulating). Top energy analysts estimate that tight oil production from these growth areas will increase by another 4 million barrels a day. But to reach this potential, policymakers cannot superimpose duplicative or excessive federal regulations that restrict growth and impede job creation.
4) Removing Barriers to Access
According to the Congressional Research Service, since 2007 about 96 percent of the increase in oil production in the U.S. has been on non-federal lands. This summer, President Obama announced a new OCS leasing plan that will block 85 percent of America’s offshore areas from production for the next five years. This plan essentially reinstates the offshore drilling ban that was lifted in 2008. Opening up more federal lands to oil and gas exploration would allow us to tap rich energy resources that are currently off limits.