Energy independence within our grasp

America is entering a new age of energy abundance, and that makes it an exciting time to be a part of the national energy conversation. Not long ago, it was treated as common knowledge that America was running out of energy supplies and that we were going to become increasingly dependent on OPEC for oil. Today we are hearing a much different story, and the future is bright. 

U.S. oil production is now at its highest level in two decades, and it’s worth noting that all of the production increase since 2007 has occurred on non-federal lands. Domestic natural-gas production is also flourishing on state and private lands. Combine this oil and natural-gas renaissance with America’s vast coal reserves and our progress on renewables, and the result is that the U.S. is now poised to become the world’s leading energy superpower. While we were once fearing energy scarcity, we are now well on our way to North American energy independence. 

In response to America’s emerging energy abundance, the Energy and Power panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under the leadership of Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), has launched the “American Energy Security and Innovation” hearing series. Through this committee initiative, we are examining the current realities of America’s energy transformation and looking at ways to accelerate energy production and growth. 

We have heard expert testimony that America’s increase in domestic energy production is creating middle-class jobs, spurring economic growth and enhancing our nation’s energy security. We have heard that the future of American energy is filled with tremendous opportunity, and that the once unthinkable goal of North American energy independence is finally within our grasp. But we have also heard concerns over federal policies that threaten that future, including burdensome regulations, costly government mandates and delayed permitting. 

As lawmakers, we cannot remain complacent about our energy security. To achieve our full energy potential, we must ensure federal polices keep us on a path toward energy independence, encouraging growth, creating jobs and keeping prices affordable for middle-class families. For this reason, House Republicans remain steadfast in our support of efforts that encourage development of our energy resources and enable private-sector innovation and investment. 

We are committed to advancing projects that allow us to maximize use of North America’s abundant energy resources, including construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. This is a $7 billion private-sector energy infrastructure project that will create thousands of jobs and expand America’s access to Canada’s rich oil reserves. Once constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline will carry nearly a million additional barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. 

While our energy future is bright, it still remains uncertain. Just look at gasoline prices today — the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States has jumped nearly 50 cents since December and, according to AAA, middle-class families endured the highest increase in gas prices for January through the end of February on record. While there are some factors affecting gas prices that are beyond the reach of Congress, there are measurable steps we can take today to insulate ourselves from oil supply disruptions overseas and help ease pressure on prices at the pump. We can take control of our energy future by increasing energy production on federal lands, expanding access to North American imports and reducing regulatory burdens that threaten to make American energy more expensive. 

To ensure America continues to have affordable and plentiful energy supplies, we must also adhere to a true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. This means allowing all energy sources — oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydropower and other renewables — to compete. We have been blessed with an abundance of energy resources, and as policymakers, we ought to ensure we develop all these resources in a responsible way.

America is in the midst of an energy boom that has enormous potential for our economy and our energy security. The benefits of North American energy independence are real and can be achieved, but only if we allow it to happen. 

Upton is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.