Unleash our domestic energy

Instead, the Obama Administration is committed to priorities that reduce domestic energy production, increase reliance on foreign sources, and drive energy costs higher. Recall that the president’s Secretary of Energy once suggested that $8 or $9 a gallon for gasoline should be the goal. Together, administration policies fulfill an extreme, no-growth environmental objective – and anchor our economy to a bleak future.
 

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The Obama oil and gas “permitorium” has virtually halted new exploration offshore and on federal lands. New EPA rules are forcing coal-fired power plants across the country to close, which will drive up utility bills for businesses and families. The president presses constantly for higher taxes on domestic energy production that would only lead to higher prices at the pump.
 
The president’s wrongheaded energy policies are perhaps best illustrated by his blocking of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would bring a huge (estimated at 830,000 barrels of oil sands daily), stable supply of oil from our friendly neighbors in Canada. The privately financed pipeline would create thousands of construction jobs, as well as thousands of permanent jobs at U.S. refineries, at no cost to taxpayers.
 
If the Keystone XL pipeline isn’t built, Canada will have no choice but to export its oil to China. Republican and Democrat Governors and Members of Congress, Union and business leaders support the pipeline.  Even the Washington Post has editorialized in support. But President Obama refuses to sign the necessary permits.
 
Another troubling and recent decision by the administration was the President’s executive order, "Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.” Don’t be fooled by the name. President Obama now seems to believe that we need another government board, because the administration's efforts to regulate natural gas production have become so complicated and convoluted. When states are already safely and effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), why is the president demanding more government control and more oversight over the development and production of natural gas?
 
These kinds of policies will guarantee higher energy costs, fewer jobs, slower economic growth, and a lower standard of living for Americans. Fortunately, there is a better way forward. Underneath our lands and our shores are natural resources that can make the U.S. energy independent for generations to come.
 
Thanks to new technology, the U.S. has access to 2,000 trillion cubic feet of known natural gas reserves – a 100-year supply of the cleanest, greenest of all fossil fuels. We are already the world’s largest natural gas producer, and production increased by an astounding 50% last year. Natural gas use for electricity generation is growing rapidly, and conversion to natural gas-powered cars and trucks is on the horizon. But this progress is being threatened by the administration’s intent on adding more and more layers of bureaucracy and control to regulate hydraulic fracking. We cannot let that happen.
 
Our country also remains the Saudi Arabia of coal. Underneath the ground are still at least 275 billion tons of coal – enough for 250 years. Clean coal technology is becoming a reality and global demand for exports of American coal is growing by leaps and bounds.
 
It’s true that we continue to import most of the oil we need, but there is better news on this front, too. The use of new oil well technologies on private lands has boosted total U.S. oil production to new highs. Thanks to advances in exploration and production, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates there are 200 billion barrels of recoverable oil – not counting upwards of 100 billion barrels of oil (and 400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas) located in the Gulf of Mexico and other offshore areas where the Administration currently blocks development.
 
We need to continue energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources. But the crucial missing piece of our national energy strategy is development of our abundant natural resources. Responsible development of these resources can create hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying jobs, and protect American families and businesses against the skyrocketing energy costs that are holding back our economy.
 
America can become energy independent. That’s not a dream; it’s a reality. But it will take a big change in Washington.
 
Hutchison, a Republican, is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.