At this State of the Union address, President Obama proudly stated that “American oil production is the highest it’s been in eight years” and declared that his Administration would “open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.” While President Obama spoke favorably of the role that oil and gas development play in America, the President’s and his Administration’s actions don’t match with his words.
There are several areas where the President and his Administration are unreasonably hindering access to more oil and gas for Americans and threatening the industry with punitive measures:
- Keystone permit rejection. The Keystone XL pipeline would deliver oil from our Canadian ally, relieve some of the pain of high prices at the gas pump, and create jobs in America. Nevertheless, and despite a State Department environmental review concluding that the project poses no significant environmental risk, the President chose to reject TransCanada’s permit application to build the pipeline.
- Targeted tax hikes. The President continues to threaten the oil industry with targeted tax hikes. Under the rhetoric of eliminating subsidies for the industry, the President’s proposal would eliminate certain tax treatments for oil that are available to many industries, effectively singling out the oil industry for a tax hike.
- Slowdown of production on federal lands. While American oil production has been increasing, the vast majority of that production is taking place on private lands. Production on federal lands is actually 40 percent lower than it was 10 years ago. The House Natural Resources Committee also reports that under the Obama Administration, 2010 had the lowest number of onshore leases issued since 1984.
- Fracking regulation. Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) is a proven oil and gas extraction process that should not be subject to overly burdensome regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering federal regulation of the fracking process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The problem is that the agency is following a procedure that even the Department of Energy criticized for its “selective focus” on “negative outcomes.”
Words alone will not make energy more abundant and affordable, nor will they create the energy-related jobs that would make the American economy stronger. If the President is truly concerned about increasing America’s energy access, he certainly has a funny way of showing it.
For policies in that direction, Heritage policy analyst Nick Loris explains in two papers how to make gas and electricity prices more affordable and how to create jobs and raise government revenue through energy exploration.
Update: While the U.S. Energy Information Administration is currently updating data used for its study of oil and gas production on federal lands, policies pursued by the Obama administration are poised to slowdown production on federal lands, such as a recent draft lease plan by the administration, which would close the majority of the Outer Continental Shelf to new energy production through 2017.