White House is all talk on its energy strategy

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that he supports an “all-of-the-above” national energy strategy. Unfortunately, his actions and the actions of his administration have not followed in line with this statement. 

For years, I have been calling for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that responsibly develops and uses the sources of energy available in America. This strategy must include coal, domestic oil reserves, natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectricity as well as renewable forms of electricity. Unfortunately, all I have seen from the Obama administration is support for renewable energy while paying lip service to traditional energy resources. At the same time, Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency administrator have been pushing anti-growth and anti-job regulation of our energy industry that will ultimately destroy fossil-fuel-sourced energy, which is the cheapest and most reliable source of energy. 

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As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power, I have worked tirelessly to stop job-destroying regulations. We enjoyed several successes on this front and will continue to fight this battle throughout the year. This includes bills such as the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011, which included my amendment to address the two most expensive rules on electricity generation in our nation’s history, the Utility MACT and the Cross-State Air Pollution regulations. Now the Senate must act to pass this important legislation. Additionally, under immense bipartisan pressure from Congress, the president finally pulled back on extreme regulations concerning ozone and farm dust. 

Unfortunately, our domestic energy sources are still under attack. Obama continues to push overreaching regulations that will affect job growth: Utility MACT, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, new greenhouse gas standards, hydraulic-fracturing limitations, coal ash rules, particulate matter standards, shutting down development of the Yucca Mountain project, stopping the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, Boiler MACT, Cement MACT — and these are just the ones under the Energy and Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction. The only sectors that seem immune to regulations are wind and solar, which are receiving taxpayer subsidies whether they are a good investment or not. 

A strong economy demands access to abundant and affordable energy. To get the American economy back on track and Americans back to work, we need to remove the harsh regulatory burdens that are fueling uncertainty and preventing growth, while also protecting the health of Americans. We can accomplish both. 

First, the Obama administration must change its course as it pertains to the Keystone XL pipeline. It has bipartisan support, and I urge the president to support this pipeline that will create jobs and stimulate our economy. 

We must recognize and draw on the value of our coal reserves as well. Coal is our most-abundant domestic energy resource, accounting for 45 percent of America’s electricity. Additionally, the coal industry is essential to the economy of many regions of our country. Without coal production, American jobs will be lost and energy prices will increase. At this time of high unemployment, we cannot ignore the fundamental role of coal in powering our economy. 

Additionally, nuclear energy must play a part in any national energy strategy. Unfortunately, Obama’s decision to stop all activities on the Yucca Mountain storage facility has greatly constrained prospects for an expansion of nuclear energy in this country. We are far behind other countries in investing in and expanding nuclear power. It is time to quit wasting taxpayer dollars on researching alternatives to Yucca Mountain when we know there are none available to us in the timeframe needed. 

As we continue to look forward, energy issues will be a priority, because energy is essential to job creation. Obama’s policies have failed. They have failed to create jobs, they have failed to stimulate the economy, and we must act now to change that direction. With electricity demand expected to increase 30 percent by 2035, the United States simply cannot rely on renewable energy alone, as Obama would like to do.

I would say to the president that the time to act is now and that his actions do not match his words. If we want to see economic growth, job growth and stronger national security, Obama must support a true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy capitalizing on domestic energy resources, including coal, domestic oil reserves, natural gas, nuclear power and hydroelectricity, not just the more-expensive renewable forms of electricity that are in no way positioned to meet our base-load electricity requirements.

Whitfield is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power.


The Hill Special Report: Energy & Environment
♦ Sen. Bingaman: Time short to save clean-energy jobs
♦ Sen. Shaheen: Energy efficiency is good policy, good for economy
♦ Sen. Boxer: Attack on environment continues
♦ Rep. Hastings: Actions louder than words for Obama on energy
♦ Rep. Markey: Drill here, sell there, pay more
♦ Rep. Olson: We need to reduce dependence on foreign oil
♦ Rep. Latta: Obama doesn’t back up his energy rhetoric