GOP counters Obama on drilling

Sens. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterGrocery group hires new top lobbyist Lobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views MORE (La.) and Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (Okla.) led the letter, which also includes signatures from some members of the GOP leadership team, including Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.).

“Arbitrary federal land restrictions now serve as a primary roadblock to domestic energy production,” they write.

Republicans said production increases in recent years stem from Bush-era decisions, development on private and state lands (in areas including the Bakken formation in North Dakota) and technology advances.

Here’s the new Senate letter:

January 25, 2012

The Honorable Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Forget conventional wisdom — Bernie Sanders is electable 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE

President of United States


The White House


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW


Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write to convey our concern with the management of our nation’s abundant energy resources, particularly those located on federal lands and waters. 

There is a growing threat to consumers and our economy from the potential disruption in energy supplies stemming from the instability in the Middle East, particularly Iran. We believe the federal government should take commonsense steps here at home to safeguard Americans by removing the unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of energy development on lands and waters owned by taxpayers. Especially during a time of increasing volatility overseas and rising fuel prices, the single greatest impact the federal government can have on our nation’s energy security is to expand access to its vast energy resources — both traditional and alternative — available on federal lands and waters. While proven reserves have increased dramatically in recent years due to improvements in technology, energy production from federal resources has fallen. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the United States relies on foreign countries for almost half of our petroleum resources, with a significant portion of that coming from unstable regimes. Additional analysis shows our economy will rely on fossil fuels for nearly 70 percent of its energy needs through 2035. While these facts are not disputed, the course of action to address it often is. Seeking to develop alternative energy technologies is a necessary goal in the long-term, but it is not sufficient for our nation’s current and foreseeable needs. 

Fortunately, our country holds within its borders extensive traditional energy resources that could sustain our energy needs for decades to come. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, the United States’ combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal resources is the largest in the world. However, much of this is restricted from exploration and production. Hundreds of thousands of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic activity may be foregone if current policies remain in place.

The 1.76 billion acre endowment of our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is a good example. Of those 1.76 billion acres, only 38 million acres are actually leased to energy companies, meaning the federal government has provided access to a mere 2.16 percent of our total potential resources.  Yet, while the federal government has provided financing for other countries, such as Brazil, to develop offshore resources, it has consistently restricted companies from doing the same within U.S. waters.

Moreover, as a result of the 2010 moratorium and uncertainty about future permitting, 11 drilling rigs representing 14 projects have left the Gulf of Mexico since April 2010. These rigs have gone to countries such as Brazil, Egypt and Angola with some rigs later relocating to the North Sea — taking a cumulative $21.4 billion of associated lost U.S. capital and operating investment with them. In addition, the EIA projects that Gulf oil production will be down more than 12 percent in 2012 over 2010. 

In 2007, the EIA projected total 2010 U.S. oil production on federal lands to be 850 million barrels. Today’s actual production on federal lands is 714 million barrels, a 16 percent decline from what was projected. Arbitrary federal land restrictions now serve as a primary roadblock to domestic energy production. Federal land designations now exceed the total amount of developed lands in the United States. Wilderness areas, the most restrictive of land designations, total over 100 million acres. In many cases, wilderness areas are now used for purposes beyond their original intent on lands clearly unsuitable for the designation rather than maintaining the integrity of our most sensitive public lands. These restrictions, which are rich in resources, prevent the responsible development of natural resources. 

Information developed by the Western Energy Alliance shows an unfortunate regression in federal policy, specifically at the Department of Interior. Their analysis shows that the ratio of revenue returned per dollar spent by the federal government has fallen from $46.07 to $40.12 for onshore energy production, and an unprecedented falloff of $118.54 to $30.08 for offshore energy production over the last three years.

This is in sharp contrast to production occurring on non-federal lands. For example, since 2005 oil production in North Dakota has been growing at a rate of 26 percent a year. Thus it is increasingly clear our nation is reliant on foreign sources of oil, largely because we do not first access our own.  Utilizing our nation’s natural resources located on federal lands could create American jobs, produce American energy resources, reduce our foreign imports and trade deficit, keep more of our nation’s wealth at home, and protect our national security interests.  
         


Needless to say, reducing restrictions to access our federally managed lands would allow American industry the freedom to develop abundant traditional energy reserves. Additionally, it would provide a more realistic economic environment for emerging alternative energy technologies, allowing them to be developed according to true market conditions. This approach could weed out faltering technologies and spare taxpayers the risk of subsidizing wasteful projects, as we experienced with Solyndra. 

Finally, let us be clear in our disappointment in the recent decision to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which is clearly in our national interest. Considering the potential for supply disruptions in the coming year, the federal government could well be facing price constraints that are a result of international conflicts, for example, in the Strait of Hormuz. It would be unfortunate if the only tool available to calm markets is further sales from our strategic reserves. Providing more access to both onshore and offshore resources and construction of a strategic pipeline from Canada are clear ways forward. We urge you to re-consider this decision and provide a clear path forward for increasing domestic production and transporting new energy supplies. 

Sincerely,
David Vitter                                                    


Tom Coburn


Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line Overnight Defense: Dems talk Afghanistan, nukes at Detroit debate | Senate panel advances Hyten nomination | Iranian foreign minister hit with sanctions | Senate confirms UN ambassador MORE

Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell, allies lean into Twitter, media 'war' Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE

Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda Lewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE

Richard Shelby


Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role Trump withdraws Ratcliffe as Intelligence pick MORE

Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation FBI Agents Association calls on Congress to make 'domestic terrorism' a federal crime Senators renew request for domestic threats documents from FBI, DOJ after shootings MORE

Jim DeMint

Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE

John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE

Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE

Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE

Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE

Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE

Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: Trump reportedly weighing executive action on alleged tech bias | WH to convene summit on online extremism | Federal agencies banned from buying Huawei equipment | Lawmakers jump start privacy talks The Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill MORE

John McCainJohn Sidney McCainFighter pilot vs. astronaut match-up in Arizona could determine control of Senate The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire MORE

Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' MORE

Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE

John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy O'Rourke says he will not 'in any scenario' run for Senate MORE

Kay Bailey Hutchison


Jon Kyl