Industry touts expanded drilling as way to cut deficit

“In order to significantly and effectively lower U.S. imports of overseas crude, the United States must focus on both decreasing the demand for transportation fuels and increasing North American supply of fuel,” the report said.

One of the biggest hurdles to achieving energy self-sufficiency is the ability to tap “undiscovered, technically recoverable oil resources,” the report said. The report cited a 2011 Congressional Research Service report that said 134.5 billion barrels of oil and 1,176.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be locked away in currently unreachable deposits.

“While the production of these resources is technically feasible, economic conditions and other factors may limit how quickly these resources come online,” the report said.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has hit the Obama administration for keeping some of those potential reserves off-limits. The main plank on the Republican’s energy platform is to expand fossil fuel drilling in such areas.

The Obama administration has said its five-year offshore leasing plan leaves 75 percent of identified hydrocarbon resources open for development. The administration also says oil-and-gas production has risen during Obama’s White House stay.

Republicans and industry groups say that 85 percent of offshore land mass is off-limits under Obama's leasing plan, and note that fossil fuel production on federally controlled areas has dropped under Obama, with the production increase carried by drillers on private and state lands.

The GOP and industry point to the recent shale gas boom as reason for expanding drilling, as those reserves were once considered too difficult to recover or not known to exist.

But the GOP has also proven resistant to offering tax incentives for energy efficiency upgrades and also to wind power, which the report said are necessary to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

The report praised the impact recently finalized fuel economy standards of 54.5 miles per gallon for light-duty vehicles beginning in 2025 would have on reducing oil consumption.

The report also said continued use of biofuels, which get blended into traditional transportation fuel, would help drive down oil consumption. It added that the expansion of wind-generated electricity, which comprised 35 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2011, has driven down energy demand.