Business Perspectives: America can take control of energy future

06/21/2012 5:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:10 AM

A presidential election year is a good time to look at our nation’s energy policy direction. The decisions voters make in November will determine our political leadership. The decisions those leaders make on energy policy will have far-reaching impacts on our country.

The question facing America is not whether we will continue to use oil but whether we will use our own resources or import that oil.

The Energy Information Administration predicts the world will need 45 percent more energy in 2035, and the U.S. will need 16 percent more. To get there, we need more energy of all types, but let’s be clear. According to the government’s own projections, oil and natural gas supply most of the energy we use now and will continue to do so for generations. We must acknowledge this energy reality and make choices that will lead us to a greater energy future – a future with more jobs, more economic growth, higher government revenue and greater energy security.

With the right leadership and vision we can take control of our energy future. We have the resources. The U.S. Geological Survey released an assessment earlier this year that confirms that America’s technically recoverable conventional oil resources are 26 percent of the world’s supply, and this doesn’t include oil shale, tight oil and heavy oil resources. Moreover, the assessment shows that the U.S. holds almost 30 percent of the world’s technically recoverable conventional natural gas resources, without including our massive supply of shale gas. The U.S. has the most technically recoverable oil and natural gas reserves in the world – more than Saudi Arabia, Brazil or China. Developing our own oil and gas resources could mean 1.4 million new jobs by 2030. That’s good news for American workers and for our government.

Energy policy would be greatly improved if policymakers took into account the actual energy landscape. Far too often, energy bills are based on incorrect assumptions, such as the notion that new, revolutionary technology is just around the corner if only the federal government provides sufficient mandates and subsidies. Time after time, experience has shown that the government cannot force new technologies to the market.

Policymakers should take time to understand the facts about energy and the obstacles to making it affordable and reliable. America is home to vast natural resources, but many of our energy policies are built on the notion that energy is scarce and becoming more scarce. The reality is we have more fossil fuel resources than any other country on the planet. We have enough energy resources to provide reliable and affordable energy for decades, even centuries to come.

Policies that support development of American oil and gas resources don’t just mean more jobs, more economic growth, and more money for federal and state governments. It means something important to all of us and something many political candidates will be talking about – it means energy security. Policies that encourage the development of America’s vast oil and gas resources combined with measures to strengthen our partnerships with Canada and Mexico could rebalance energy geopolitics making North America energy independent. This is not a vision of America at the mercy of other oil-producing regions, or an America threatened by scarce resources. It is a vision of America holding the reins of its own energy security and future prosperity.

But a rational energy policy and common sense regulatory structure is necessary to support and encourage the development of that vision. A former EPA official’s comments about crucifying oil companies are an indication of a regulatory approach that is adversarial and perhaps hostile. We need a regulatory approach that invites input from industry and bases rule-making on sound science, legitimate cost/benefit analyses and economic impact. We need a new regulatory approach that keeps energy development from falling prey to regulatory strangulation. We need an approach that encourages business development rather than discouraging it.

This vision is threatened by those who want to restrain or even stop oil and natural gas development.

We must abandon policies driven by a zero-sum game philosophy for energy that says we must have less oil and natural gas so that we can have more of something else. We must resist those who would pit one resource against another.

Our nation faces enormous challenges of providing affordable and reliable energy supplies in the years ahead. With the right leadership and vision, we can turn these challenges into great opportunities for economic growth and energy security.

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