Energy (not green) will drive recovery

There is an emerging consensus that the energy industry could get the economy going north in eight to 12 months if the Obama administration weren’t so hostile toward it — or hostile to business in general.

In July alone, the administration issued hundreds of costly new regulations for companies to implement, while old regulations like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act puts more emphasis on a bird than an employee.

According to the Small Business Administration, the average cost per employee of federal regulation is $8,086. And the cost per employee for businesses with up to 20 employees is an incredible $10,585. The delay of energy projects alone costs the economy nearly $145 billion annually, according to researchers Steve Pociask and Joseph Fuhr Jr. of Telenomic Research.

Consider, too, the exodus of American jobs, including oil rigs that have left the Gulf of Mexico for foreign waters under the administration’s de facto drilling moratorium. The Republican “Energy Action Team” in the U.S. House estimates that 24,532 jobs have been lost in just the Gulf of Mexico region because of the president’s mindless moratorium.

The Republican energy group also calculates that for every penny the price of gasoline increases, it costs consumers an additional $4 million per day, or $1.4 billion over a year. It found that in April, U.S. families spent an average of $369 on gasoline, which represented 8.9 percent of monthly household income.

It’s disappointing that just one Republican candidate for president has used this bully pulpit to highlight these facts: Newt Gingrich. He has consistently pointed to the domestic energy industry as a way to get unemployment down.

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial notes, “Obama has the power to delay new rules that will shut down 8 percent of all U.S. power generation.” Undermining electrical reliability, of course, could mean rolling blackouts for consumers around the country. “If a foreign power or terrorists wiped out 8 percent of U.S. capacity, such as through a cyber attack, it would rightly be considered an act of war,” the Journal wrote.

Conserving energy resources and continuing the development of alternative and renewable energy sources are important, but renewable energy is not ready to replace fossil fuels right now. Alternative and renewable energy accounts for just 6 percent of our nation’s energy portfolio.

We are currently exploring for oil in just one narrow area of the Gulf of Mexico. Why rule out exploring other areas? No other nation in the world has such fertile offshore resources, yet declares them off limits. That’s why two Democrat senators from Virginia, Mark Warner and James Webb, introduced a bill allowing offshore gas and oil exploration for Virginia.

Let states decide whether to allow offshore drilling, and let them share in lease revenues.

It should be unacceptable to every American worried about rising energy costs that we are rich in energy sources and the technology to develop them, yet continue to do nothing. We can now sensitively explore through modern directional drilling about 30,000 acres of surface lands with a single well.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States contains 163 billion barrels of recoverable oil, along with 1.5 trillion barrels of potential oil shale resources. That is six times Saudi Arabia’s oil resources!

In June, the OPEC oil cartel decided to leave output targets at 2009 levels. What does the president do? Rather than encourage the boosting of domestic production, he tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — an action that should be reserved for emergency supply interruptions.

Republicans in the U.S. House are pushing a series of bills to increase our energy production, reduce energy prices, create more jobs at home and curb dependence on foreign oil. More and more Democrats are also supporting this approach.

Will the president continue to ignore these sensible proposals as his popularity shrinks?

J.C. Watts ( is a business consultant and former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes twice monthly for the Review-Journal.

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