Elizabeth Emken U.S. Senate


America needs to act now to secure its energy future. A decade of technological advances-from 3-D mapping, to fracking, to horizontal drilling-has turned this country into a global giant in energy resources such as oil and gas and coal.

When combined with existing production capacity, America is primed to become the largest energy producer in the world, with all the money, jobs and benefits that come with it. Predictions of the potential new oil supply range up to 11 million barrels a day, compared with just under 5.7 million barrels a day produced by the U.S. in 2011.

A sound energy policy is vital to our national security, our economy, and our environment. What we need now is a "Pipeline to Prosperity" that creates policies that recognize and facilitate the full attainment of our energy potential.

Our current federal energy policy typifies the broken philosophy of the Washington elites who have crafted a fantasy world that assumes that everything good is produced by the government. Proof of the failure is found everywhere; in the Solyndra scandal, EPA rules that shut down power plants, and halting of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Even more disturbing is the recent news that a regional bureaucrat from the EPA unwittingly revealed what seems to be the agency`s collective strategy when it comes to regulating oil and gas producers – "crucify them."

The mindset that believes government is always the answer will produce more high-cost green failures, fewer jobs, a higher deficit, calls for greater taxes, and declining manufacturing.

  • In contrast, North America has "arguably the best source rocks (oil and gas formations deep below the earth`s surface) in the world" and the technology is "resetting the clock for U.S. resources," according to the Executive Director of the University of Southern California Energy Institute.
  • Further, states like North Dakota that have embraced energy exploration are realizing the benefits of these rational decisions: 3.5% unemployment, low taxes and a $1 billion state budget surplus. The Bakken oil reserve is estimated to be more than 4 billion barrels but some believe it to be four to five times that, which would make it the largest American oil field ever discovered.

The pace of new well development is being threatened by "chokepoints," oil pipelines that are at capacity or don`t extend into areas of new production, which range along the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Mid-continent, California and the Southeast.

Pipeline building necessarily lags well development. Pipelines are multi-decade investments and builders must have guaranteed long-term customers, whereas drillers can quickly decide a field isn`t productive enough and move on in a year or two. Which is why we can`t afford to allow Democrats to keep setting the starting time back another 10 years.

Democrats have propped up the Obama Administration`s failed energy agenda. Thanks to their consistent opposition to energy exploration, the White House has had the cover to block construction of the Keystone pipeline project. Two other proposed pipelines don`t face the same hurdles as Keystone XL, yet they face opposition and will still require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Moreover, they don`t negate the need for the Keystone project.

The regulatory climate is unbelievably complex:

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees natural gas pipeline permitting and exercises eminent domain, allowing new pipelines to be built in 2-4 years.
  • However, pipelines for other products, including the natural gas liquids and oil that are now driving shale drilling, must be permitted state by state, and take longer.
  • In addition, both the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency are busy developing draconian regulations on the fracking process.

Every energy regulation is a hidden tax that drives up the cost of everything. Further restriction and egregious regulation of energy production is willful contempt for hardworking Americans that need a functioning economy to provide for their families.

Meanwhile, the rest of the planet isn`t waiting for us to figure out our energy strategy. World energy demand has grown nearly every year for 30 years. Ten percent of energy use is to power software driven devices. The demand for power for these devices will surely only grow.

Further, energy demand by China is increasing and driving up the cost of oil and coal; this exacerbates the strain on our gas and electricity prices. By 2020, some experts think that China will be importing 70% of their oil. Twenty years ago, China was a net exporter of oil. A policy choice is before us: China can either buy their future oil from us if we provide the regulatory support for our domestic industry, or we can compete for the same oil from the Middle East and elsewhere on the open markets with China.

The Solution:

I support an "all of the above" energy policy, in direct contrast to Democrats' "none of the above" agenda that blocks exploration, increases regulation, and undermines innovation.

Given the growing list of failures in the Democrats` green jobs boondoggle, we should take government out of the business of picking winners and losers in the energy development marketplace.

We can achieve energy independence through sensible investment that maximizes our current energy resources, and opens a "Pipeline to Prosperity" that encourages development of alternative energy through private enterprise.

  • First, I propose we tie a portion of the profits from new and renewed energy exploration leases to fund tax credits that support alternative fuel technology research and development. This simultaneously begins the process of reducing our reliance on foreign oil by refocusing on domestic production, while ensuring an even longer-term focus on non-oil based energy alternatives.
  • We must focus on the abundant American resources at our disposal – oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy – and unleash American ingenuity to use those resources to their maximum potential. No new energy regulations should be enacted if they cost American jobs, restrict American ingenuity and weaken American security.
  • Environmental laws need to be updated and must take the regulatory cost into account. The EPA must also use accurate and quantifiable data in assessing the benefits of its regulations. We must have dramatic regulatory reform to accelerate the exploration and development of oil and gas, to facilitate construction of vital infrastructure and to preserve and expand crucial electricity capacity. The permitting process must be streamlined and create fixed timelines.
  • We should respect the proven ability of individual states to regulate fracking, rather than sending federal bureaucrats to take control.
  • Coal must also be part of a diversified energy plan and should not be regulated out of existence. China continues to import coal at a record pace. We should lead the way in exporting environmentally safe coal practices, so that their development does not harm the global environment.

Here`s the bottom line: we all seek a greener, cleaner planet, but growing energy costs will further weaken the economy, eliminate jobs, and drive up the price of everything. Establishing an environmentally-aware domestic energy strategy will divert resources from regimes funding terrorism while lowering the cost of producing American goods.

Let`s encourage investment in both new energy technologies and alternative sources. We can position America to lead the world on energy, now and in the future, without picking politically inspired winners or stifling the energy sources at our disposal.

In short, we must aggressively develop America`s energy potential. Doing so could create more than a million new jobs; provide inexpensive energy that will help increase our manufacturing base; and generate royalties and profits that will become a new revenue stream to support alternative fuel technology research and development.

America can no longer hold back or hold off on energy independence. The sooner we can break the stranglehold of federal bureaucracy, the sooner we can build a "Pipeline to Prosperity" that encourages innovation and investment, protects our national interests as well as our national security, and displays the courage that has always symbolized America`s success.


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