March 28, 2011

Economy Boosting Energy Solutions

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Identifying growing energy demands and increasing oil and gas prices as problems is easy.  Far more difficult is taking the next, productive step of identifying and implementing solutions.  Fortunately, we have options, such as expanding access to U.S. oil reserves and increasing responsible domestic oil production.  As fuel prices escalate again and threaten economic recovery, advancing these sensible solutions is increasingly critical.  Such accomplishments could increase our nation's energy security, provide new, lasting American jobs and improve our economy.

 

Increasing fuel prices can destroy our economic recovery.  A recent Heritage Foundation report indicated that an increase in the per-barrel price of imported crude oil by $10 in the first quarter of 2011 and by $20 in the second quarter would reduce Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $20 billion, decrease potential employment by nearly 100,000 jobs and increase gasoline prices 18 cents per gallon in 2011 alone.  Such outcomes would be a setback to efforts to dig out of our nation's economic struggles.

 

Additionally, Idaho is significantly exposed to increased energy costs, and high gas prices affect far more than pump prices.  According to the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, without oil refineries and subject to the added cost of importing gasoline and diesel by pipeline or truck, Idaho residents pay the 6 th highest gasoline prices in the nation.  Idaho generates nearly half of its electricity consumption, but the rest is imported principally from power plants in neighboring states.  Energy price increases impact productivity.  Workers and small businesses, reliant on the timely transport of goods, are among the most impacted by increased energy costs.  High fuel prices reduce sales and wages, as the affordability of shipping decreases.      

 

Further development and adoption of diverse energy sources, including nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable and alternative energies are necessary parts of the solution to meeting growing energy demands.  However, we must develop our fossil fuel resources to fully address domestic energy needs.  According to a Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. has the largest recoverable assets of natural gas, oil and coal of any nation. 

 

Utilizing these resources is central to energy affordability, economic recovery and national security.  That is why I recently co-sponsored the Three-D, Domestic Energy, Domestic Jobs and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011 that would expand U.S. oil production and seek to lower gas prices by easing permitting costs for production on government properties, off-shore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Specifically, the legislation includes provisions to achieve the following: expand offshore oil and gas production; expedite oil shale resource development and leasing on federal lands; open ANWR to oil production and establish an ANWR Alternative Energy Trust Fund paid for with royalties from ANWR; expedite the judicial and environmental review process for energy projects; and limit the Obama Administration's ability to utilize the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act to institute cap and tax regulations not approved by Congress.

 

Estimates indicate this legislation could create as many as 2 million new jobs, increase the GDP by $10 trillion over the next 30 years and lower energy costs, all without a new financial burden to the taxpayer.  Opening ANWR to responsible oil production alone has been estimated to potentially create 730,000 jobs and more than $200 billion in new royalties and tax revenues.  Better utilization of our nation's plentiful energy resources, including coal, oil and natural gas, can improve energy costs and our economy.  Americans deserve far more than identification of the obvious problems.  We deserve advancement of lasting solutions.  The potential benefits of developing U.S. energy resources make it worthy of advancement. 

 

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