Energy and Power Subcommittee Discusses Legislation to Expedite Alaskan Energy Production

May 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Continuing efforts to fight high gas prices and increase American energy production, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power today continued its hearing on the American Energy Initiative with a discussion on draft legislation that would accelerate energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, a draft of which has been put forward by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), aims to eliminate needless permitting delays by the Obama administration that have stalled energy production off the coast of Alaska. The Environmental Appeals Board has repeatedly blocked production opportunities by rejecting permits already granted by the EPA. This bureaucratic process has resulted in permitting delays lasting over 5 years

At today's hearing, members of the Subcommittee pressed EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy about the reasons behind the lengthy permitting process. While opponents to develop energy in Alaskan waters attempted to justify the delays with public health concerns, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has previously stated these drilling operations "will not cause air pollution that will endanger [public] health."

Expert witness Lynn Westfall, Executive Vice President of Turner Mason & Company, explained the importance of Alaskan crude production to the West Coast and our overall energy independence, stating, "Growing dependence on imports have raised relative crude prices on the West Coast by approximately $2.15 per barrel." Westfall went on to explain that, "Without continued production in Alaska, the West Coast will grow more dependent on imports from OPEC." Permitting delays at EPA are preventing over 27 billion barrels of oil in Alaska's offshore fields from reaching American consumers.

The American people are demanding Congress take immediate action to alleviate high gasoline prices. This legislation will remove the red tape that is blocking production of important domestic energy supplies, helping to drive prices down and lessen our reliance on foreign oil.

For text of the discussion draft of the "Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011", please click HERE.