July 29, 2021 –
Today, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) led a forum titled “An Energy Crisis and Rising Gas Prices: A Mid-Year Review of the Biden Administration’s Energy Policy.”
“Energy development on federal lands and waters account for approximately 24 percent of oil production and 11 percent of natural gas production,” Westerman said. “Banning energy production on federal lands and waters would only make the United States more dependent on overseas suppliers like OPEC and Russia and drive up prices in the long term. As a result, Americans will continue to pay the price for these anti-energy policies at the pump. Gas prices have recently reached the highest levels since 2014, and AAA estimates that prices will increase between 10 and 20 cents before the end of August. Americans across the country are struggling to cope with rising gas prices in addition to increased costs for other essential goods and services. The Biden administration’s anti-energy policies will reduce domestic energy development in the short and long-term, worsening U.S. reliance on foreign sources of oil, and driving up prices for American consumers.”
“This hearing provides us an opportunity to reflect on the past six months of the Biden administration’s energy agenda, and it’s crystal clear: President Biden’s American energy outlook does not paint a pretty picture,” Newhouse said. “I share the goal of bolstering our renewable energy resources, but throttling the oil and gas industry is not the way to do it. We must embrace an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that empowers our innovative oil and gas producers to continue reducing emissions, supporting our rural communities, and developing the cleanest and safest energy resources in the world. Thank you, Ranking Member Westerman, for partnering with the Congressional Western Caucus to showcase the need for reliable and affordable American energy and how the development of that domestic energy impacts nearly every aspect of our lives.”
The panel of Republican members heard from four witnesses during the forum:
Lori Leblanc, executive director, Gulf Economic Survival Team
Paul Ulrich, vice president for government and regulatory affairs, Jonah Energy
The Honorable Jon Henry, commissioner, Eddy County, N.M.
Ron Neal, co-owner, Houston Energy
“As the industry is working towards tackling the global climate change issue, shutting down America’s offshore oil and gas industry is not a solution to a global climate change problem,” LeBlanc said. “In fact, a 2016 Department of Interior report determined that carbon emissions from production in the OCS are less, per barrel of oil, than overseas production, which would necessarily increase after banning U.S. offshore development. Gulf coast energy workers stand ready to work with this administration to ‘build back better’ through an energy transition; however, it needs to be a smart strategic transition. Notably, while the Gulf holds vast potential for development of renewable resources like offshore wind production, it’s the infrastructure and workforce related to our historic and sustainable offshore oil and gas production that will make this potential a reality.”
“The uncertainties introduced into our business are an extreme burden,” Ulrich said. “We have tuned our operations to adhere to layers of regulations, but we’ve been able to do so because we understand expectations and work to meet and exceed them. It is counter to climate goals and BLM’s multiple use and sustained yield mission to have Jonah and other operators on federal lands bear added burden. We are among the most responsible operators in the industry and we have the data to prove it. We strongly recommend a truly collaborative approach to any regulatory changes include Wyoming and responsible operators as part of the solution. We have demonstrated through issues such as Sage Grouse management, emission reductions and wildlife corridors that the best solutions are born locally.”
“Why would the federal government claim success in attaining climate objectives by shutting the domestic hydrocarbon industry down, relinquish the energy independence to become reliant on international supplies for energy while simultaneously exceeding their climate objectives by shifting the energy demand to countries that have far less rigor and compliance with their climate expectations?” Henry said. “The net effect being less reliable, more expensive energy for the US consumer and taxpayer, an increase in overall global emissions and climate related challenges, the loss of hundreds of thousands of quality jobs and billions of dollars in lost national and state tax revenues all by driving a mainstream industry into premature obsolescence because of an emotional media campaign. Give the oil and gas industry its due. Get them at the table to drive the solutions forward while sustaining a key business engine the country can ill afford to lose at this or any point in the future.”
“American producers want to be good actors in the development of our natural resources but, in order to do so, we need to know the rules and have some amount of certainty that these rules are not going to change mid-project,” Neal said. “For the deals I put together, it can take 60 months or more from the time we are looking at an area, bid, scope, and finally get to the stage where we can start drilling. It takes another two to five years before we establish production and begin to receive a return on investment. It’s imperative to know that the rug will not be pulled out from under us as we are investing tens of millions of dollars in projects that we hope to see come online.”
Watch the full forum here.
The Biden administration’s ban on federal oil and gas leasing has resulted in lost revenues for energy-producing states due to the cancellation of multiple onshore and offshore planned lease sales. Although Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland testified in June before the House Natural Resources Committee and stated that the administration’s review of the federal leasing program would be publicized in early summer, the report has not yet been released to the public.
This administration’s leasing ban and lack of transparency regarding the leasing review is creating significant uncertainty in the energy sector and hindering American economic recovery.
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