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Hastings: Obama’s Stance Hurts American Energy

With gasoline prices quickly surging to $4 per gallon and beyond, pinching the pockets of families and business across the country, it’s no surprise that gasoline has become a regular talking point in President Barack Obama’s stump speech. Yet instead of offering real solutions, the president is telling the American people that there’s “not much we can do” about high prices. He’s waving the white flag of defeat — essentially telling Americans to get used to paying more than $4 for gasoline. 

It’s not just about what President Obama can do tomorrow to address higher prices, it’s about what he’s done over the past two years to get us to this point.  The president’s attempt to deflect criticism and his ‘don’t blame me’ attitude expose how out-of-touch he is with reality and the everyday needs of American families.  President Obama has an energy plan — it’s just not one to increase American energy production. Instead, President Obama’s plan is to block, delay and tax American energy. 

When President Obama took office, the national average price of gasoline was $1.84 per gallon — and it’s been steadily climbing ever since.  That’s because over the past two years the Obama administration has never missed an opportunity to block access to our American energy resources.  For example:

When President Obama was elected, nearly all of our offshore areas were open to offshore drilling.  Since then, President Obama has systematically locked-up the entire Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast and much of Alaska — preventing the creation of over 1.2 million jobs.

The Obama administration imposed a real and then de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which according to its own estimates cost 12,000 jobs.

The Obama administration has delayed permits for renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar, on public lands.

Just weeks after taking office, the Obama administration withdrew 77 areas available for oil and natural gas leasing in Utah — eventually leasing only 17 and cancelling 60.  According to a Uintah County commissioner, this prevented the creation of approximately 3,000 jobs.

The Obama administration first delayed and then significantly altered the oil shale research, demonstration and development (RD&D) lease program.  As a result, sales of these RD&D leases declined by 85 percent and cost high-tech jobs in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

The Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency retroactively withdrew an approved permit for a coal mine in West Virginia.  This cost 250 jobs that were ready to get working to create more American energy.

The Obama administration is aggressively pursuing sweeping new changes to mining regulations. These regulations, according to calculations in the government’s own study, will cost thousands of American jobs and decrease American energy production in 22 states.

The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the cancellation of a permit for a Navajo Nation power plant in New Mexico that was expected to create 400 permanent jobs and generate $50 million per year in revenue.

The Obama administration is blocking several energy projects in Alaska. It is slow-walking permits for production in Alaska’s north slope, which is necessary to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) running. The administration is also stopping permits for oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).

The Interior Department has announced it is considering proposals to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public lands — a technique currently regulated by states that is responsible for tremendous growth in natural gas production.  This could severely restrict energy production on federal lands.

This list goes on and on and on.

It is because of these actions by the Obama administration that the Energy Information Administration projects an overall decline in U.S. oil production by 110,000 barrels per day in 2011 and 130,000 barrels per day in 2012. 

The policies of the Obama administration are costing jobs, decreasing energy production and jeopardizing our national security by deepening our reliance on foreign energy. This is an indefensible energy record, and one that Americans should remember every time they fill up their cars.

Of course, one can always count on President Obama to fall back on his favorite solution to all our energy problems: tax, tax, tax.  Last Congress, the president was out front and center pushing for a job-destroying cap-and-trade national energy tax, which even he said would make prices “necessarily skyrocket.”

While the president continues to support this national energy tax, he’s also advocating for increasing taxes on American energy producers. Yet the White House has admitted this will do nothing to lower gasoline prices.  In fact, it will have exactly the opposite effect — raising energy prices further when families can least afford it. 

This week, Republicans in the House of Representatives will begin voting on a series of bills to expand offshore American energy production, create jobs and lower gasoline prices. Unlike President Obama, House Republicans have heard the American people’s demand for increased American energy production and we’re ready to act.

If the president wants to seriously address rising gasoline prices, he should abandon his block, delay and tax approach to American energy and work with us to pass this important energy legislation.

Rep. Doc Hastings is a Republican from Washington state.

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