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Buried largely beneath the Alaskan tundra and coastal waters is a 145.5 billion-barrel vault of recoverable oil, nearly eight times our measured oil reserves. This does not count our vast supply of untapped oil shale in the Western part of the United States, which a modest estimate places at 800 billion recoverable barrels. Our potential supply of natural gas totals more than 2,000 trillion cubic feet.
It is widely acknowledged that these resources could satisfy American demand for hundreds of years, if only President Obama would let us use them.
In the last three and a half years, the Obama Administration has taken several actions to restrict access to our abundant supply of oil and natural gas. Approvals of oil-drilling permits have decreased 36 percent since President Obama took office. The president also has declined to fully approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an artery that would carry at least 500,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and support the creation of 20,000 direct and 180,000 indirect jobs.
Earlier this year, the Depart-ment of the Interior proposed to reduce lands available for oil-shale development in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah by more than 75 percent. This area is known as the Green River Formation. It contains the world’s largest deposits of oil shale. As a General Accounting Office official recently testified before the House, “The federal government is in a unique position to influence the development of oil shale because nearly three-quarters of the oil shale within the Green River Formation lies beneath federal lands.”
Additionally, the administration has jeopardized energy exploration on public lands done through hydraulic fracturing, also called “fracking,” by introducing duplicative and costly regulations. The Bureau of Land Management recently issued a requirement that fracking companies verify safety standards, even though state governments have traditionally regulated fracking. Safety standards are important, but the BLM’s rule could duplicate regulatory efforts already in place in states including Colorado, Texas and Wyoming, and could cost private companies an extra $1.5 billion or more.
These actions from the administration will do nothing to reverse a recent trend of declining oil and natural-gas production on federal and Indian lands. The Energy Information Administration reported a 23 percent decrease in such production from fiscal years 2003-11.
Last week, the House took an important step to change direction and tap into our abundant natural resources to establish a true all-of-the-above energy policy. A bipartisan majority passed H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which among other things would streamline energy permitting, establish minimum annual acreage limits for leasing federal land, and require the Secretary of the Interior to establish an all-of-the-above energy plan for federal land.
It is clear that despite the rhetoric, President Obama’s administration is determined to hamstring the domestic production of energy in America. The road to energy security and prosperity begins in our back yard, because we have the means and the technology to power America with American power.
Geoff Davis represents Kentucky’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. His district comprises 22 counties, including Carroll, Trimble and Gallatin.