By Ben Geman - 05/27/11 09:18 PM EDT
Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich is calling for an “all-out” effort to expand U.S. oil-and-gas development that he alleges would bring down gasoline prices long before new supplies are produced.
Gingrich, in a speech in South Carolina, said this should include natural-gas drilling off that state’s coast, and development of oil shale in Western states.
“We have natural gas off South Carolina which will create jobs in South Carolina and an export product for America. New jobs will grow in the Port of Charleston around natural gas just as new jobs will grow in an offshore industry – high paying, high value jobs,” Gingrich said in prepared remarks before a rotary club in Columbia, S.C.
“We don’t have to wait years for gas prices to come down. An aggressive commitment now to develop more of our abundant oil and natural gas resources will put downward pressure on prices at the pump long before any new reserves actually come online,” the former House Speaker said.
The White House, following the BP oil spill, last year backed off plans to sell oil-and-gas leases off the Atlantic Coast, although President Obama recently pledged to speed up evaluation of Atlantic offshore resources.
The biggest past effort to tap the resource collapsed almost 30 years ago as oil prices dropped, prompting Exxon to abandon a commercial development project in Colorado.
But some companies have explored the possibility of development in recent years, and the Bush administration sought to help revive the prospect with a preliminary leasing program.
Gingrich more broadly accused the White House of placing too many restrictions on U.S. energy development — a common refrain among Republicans who want faster issuance of drilling permits and more federal lands and waters opened for leasing.
“The Obama administration pursues explicit policies that lead to expensive gasoline, expensive diesel, expensive natural gas, and skyrocketing electricity costs. These anti-American energy policies are killing jobs and making us all poorer,” he said.