Rep. Fred Upton in The Hill: Government's red tape tangles up fuel sources right in our backyard

February 15, 2011

The turmoil in Egypt has not only raised fears of an oil-supply disruption from the Middle East, it underscores our nation's energy vulnerabilities. While not the usual "hot spot" like Iran and Venezuela, Egypt highlights the effect an unforeseen global event can have on prices here at home, especially when a major supply route in the Suez Canal is threatened.... Oil prices are spiking, and prices at neighborhood gas stations from coast to coast are soaring.

However, there's another supply cutoff to worry about, only this one is right in our own backyard. We can no longer afford policies that lock away our domestic oil-and-gas resources and thwart job growth; we must pursue an "all-of-the-above" approach to fortify our energy security and provide for high-paying American jobs....

We are using only a fraction of our domestic resources, and we might be turning away valuable supplies from our good ally Canada. Even under the best of circumstances, these closer-to-home restrictions destroy jobs and raise gasoline prices; during turbulent periods for oil markets, they exacerbate our already tenuous situation and working families ultimately pay the price. In addition to oil restrictions, federal laws and regulations have handcuffed other abundant sources of energy. These anti-energy, anti-jobs policies have accumulated over decades but have been greatly accelerated in the last two years.......

It is the goal of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to remove the roadblocks to reliable energy. More freedom for North American energy supplies means more freedom for consumers and businesses to use the affordable energy they need.

This administration's expanded restrictions on offshore and onshore drilling are well known, but there are now growing concerns that a proposed pipeline bringing in a reliable supply of oil from Canada may be blocked. The Keystone Pipeline project would carry abundant Canadian crude to Midwestern and Gulf Coast refineries. If allowed, the new pipeline system could deliver more than a million barrels a day, enough to "very substantially reduce U.S. dependency on non-Canadian foreign oil, including from the Middle East," according to a recent Department of Energy study.

If only the restrictions stopped at oil. Natural gas on federal lands (more than 2 billion acres, onshore and offshore) is also threatened by red tape. And now, natural-gas reserves on private and state lands are in jeopardy as the administration has signaled it wants to restrict the process of hydraulic fracturing, without which a century's worth of domestic supplies would go untapped.

Coal has also been targeted, evidenced by the Environmental Protection Agency's revocation of a previously approved coal-mine permit in West Virginia. A number of hyper-stringent new coal regulations indicate the administration wants this energy source to stay in the ground, as well.

Blocking the production of domestic energy resources isn't the only problem. We also face costly regulations that make its use prohibitively expensive. Enter EPA's global-warming regulations targeting carbon-dioxide emissions -- the unavoidable byproduct of using the coal, oil and natural gas, which comprises 85 percent of our energy mix. These regulations have the potential to downgrade America to a second-class economy in which we outsource many of our manufacturing jobs to nations such as China and India that have no intention of imposing similar measures on their industries.

Ironically, in his State of the Union Speech, President Obama mentioned nuclear, natural gas and "clean" coal, along with wind and solar, as part of his proposed Clean Energy Standard. The idea of a government-approved list of required electricity sources is problematic in any event, but the inclusion of nuclear, gas and coal is an empty promise so long as other regulations preclude these sources from being utilized.

This year will be one of legislation, but also of education for the committee. Given the chilling effect EPA's global warming regulations are already having on manufacturing jobs and the economic recovery, we are moving fast to repeal the agency's bureaucratic overreach. On other issues, such as North American energy production and the burden of regulations on energy-using industries and jobs, we will be gathering information as well as offering legislative fixes where appropriate to meet our energy demands of the future....

But our overall theme is a simple one -- we are for increasing the supply of affordable and reliable energy to keep costs low for families and help create countless jobs.

Rep. Upton is Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee

Read the article online HERE.

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