Energy and Power Subcommittee Kicks Off "American Energy Security and Innovation" Hearing Series with Examination of America’s Vast Energy Resource Base

February 5, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today kicked off its “American Energy Security and Innovation” hearing series with a discussion of America’s vast energy resources and the benefits and opportunities of the nation’s new energy boom. Over the past decade, technological advancements have transformed America’s energy landscape and economy. The United States has experienced dramatic growth in domestic energy production, putting the goal of North American energy independence within reach and dispelling previous beliefs that America was running out of oil and gas reserves. Members and witnesses discussed America’s changing energy paradigm and considered its implications on our domestic economy and the global energy market.  

“The benefits of our emerging energy abundance are many, boosting our economy and creating jobs in Michigan and across the nation, a bright spot in the economic downturn. We must build upon our progress,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Once we have a more accurate sense of North America’s energy potential, we can start the process of ensuring we have the proper vision for the future.”

Dr. Daniel Yergin, IHS Vice Chairman and author of The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, spoke to the job and revenue benefits of America’s energy renaissance, stating, “The United States is in the midst of the ‘unconventional revolution in oil and gas’ that, it becomes increasingly apparent, goes beyond energy itself. Today, the industry supports 1.7 million jobs – a considerable accomplishment given the relative newness of the technology. That number could rise to 3 million by 2020. In 2012, this revolution added $62 billion to federal and state government revenues, a number that we project could rise to about $113 billion by 2020.”

Administrator Adam Sieminski of the U.S. Energy Information Administration provided a broad assessment of America’s energy resource base and production activities. Sieminiski credited America’s recent production surge to new shale oil and gas discoveries. According to his testimony, “EIA estimates that U.S. total crude oil production averaged 6.4 million barrels per day in 2012, an increase of 0.8 million bbl/d from the previous year driven largely by growth in tight oil production. This increase in U.S. annual production is the largest since Colonel Drake drilled the first crude oil well in Pennsylvania in 1859.” Sieminski also expects to see continued growth in U.S. crude oil production, explaining, “The 7.9 million bbl/d EIA currently forecasts for 2014 would mark the highest annual average level of production since 1988.”

In addition to America’s rich oil and natural gas supplies, Institute for Energy Research Distinguished Senior Fellow Mary Hutzler described the great potential of America’s vast coal reserves, stating, “The technically recoverable coal resources in the United States are unsurpassed and total 50 percent of the world’s coal reserves. At 486 billion short tons, it can supply our country’s electricity demand for coal for almost 500 years at current usage rates.”

America’s newfound energy abundance is welcome news for the economy and national security, but as today's witnesses explained, the ability to reap the benefits of America’s resources is contingent on the right energy policies. As part of this ongoing hearing series, the subcommittee will look for opportunities to expand access to America’s rich energy resources and remove barriers blocking the path to energy independence.

“The good news is that a future of plentiful, affordable, and reliable supplies of North American energy is no longer just a dream. With today’s effort to gain an accurate assessment of the resource base, we are taking the first step in what I hope will be a bipartisan initiative to help turn that dream into a reality,” said Whitfield.