Murkowski: Five Ways to Boost America’s Oil Production

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate today focusing on ways to improve America’s energy policy, particularly the need for greater domestic oil production. The prepared remarks are attached and the speech can be viewed here

The combination of international events and domestic policy restrictions threaten both America’s economic recovery and national security.  Unrest and instability abroad have pushed oil prices to their highest levels in two years, and today’s already-painful gasoline prices are projected to reach $4 a gallon in the months ahead. 

Even when civil unrest is not spiking the cost of oil, our nation’s foreign dependence still comes at a staggering cost. America spent $333 billion on oil imports last year. For the month of December, the U.S. trade deficit was $40.6 billion, with petroleum-related imports accounting for 62 percent of that total. Over the course of decades, trillions of American dollars have been sent out of our economy to pay for oil from abroad – including many countries that are led by non-democratic or anti-American regimes.

It doesn’t have to be this way. America has ample resources to reduce its foreign oil dependence, create well-paying jobs, raise revenue to pay down the $14 trillion national debt, and develop advanced energy technologies. Increased domestic production will result in a stronger economy, greater security, and, because our safeguards are among the most stringent in the world, a cleaner environment as well.

Five Ways to Increase American Production

  1. Look North – to Alaska: Alaska has huge reserves of oil just waiting to be tapped for the good of the nation. The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, just 2,000 acres of the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas hold at least 40 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That’s enough to replace crude imports from the Persian Gulf for nearly 65 years. All three areas are effectively off-limits to new development, however, due to decisions made or continued by this administration.
  1. End Gulf “Permitorium:” It’s time to restore production in the Gulf of Mexico. This administration has slowed permits for new deepwater development to a crawl. This could cost the United States some 200,000 barrels of new supply if left in place for a year, far more if left in place longer, and tens of thousands of jobs in the meantime. Courts have also ruled – repeatedly – that this “permitorium” is unlawful.  Most recently, the Interior Department was held in contempt for its “dismissive conduct” and “determined disregard” of previous orders to end its de-facto moratorium.
  1. Cut Red Tape: In January, President Obama ordered his executive agencies to review their regulations to ensure they are cost-effective and not unduly damaging economic growth and job creation. The Interior Department clearly has its work cut out. In late 2008, Interior stated that the “number of required plan and permit approvals is on the order of 25 to 30” for a typical offshore lease. Over the past two years, this administration has sought to add more layers to – rather than streamline – these already significant requirements, which are a major reason why the leaseholders need years to begin production.
  1. “All of the Above:” The alternatives to conventional oil, natural gas, and coal are not limited to wind, solar and geothermal. Far from it. America will utilize fossil fuels for decades to come, and our energy policy needs to account for that fact. The good news is that according to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has a larger fossil fuel endowment than any other nation, and that doesn’t even include our tremendous potential in oil shale and methane hydrates.
  1. Shelve Bad Ideas: With oil prices on the rise, the administration and many in Congress seem to have forgotten that the oil industry provides Americans with energy and jobs, and instead have begun to treat its companies as an untapped source of government revenue. Proposals to take more from oil companies have included a range of tax increases, “use it or lose it” and similar fees, and substantially shorter lease terms. All of these anti-production efforts deprive companies of a stable operating environment, which in turn reduces their willingness to invest in America. It’s time to set these bad ideas aside and adopt a more constructive approach. Instead of seeking to punish the industry, a better way forward would be to let it tap into more of America’s vast resources, and then make good use of the resulting revenues. 

America has options. Responsible development would reduce energy prices, create jobs, improve our security, raise revenue to pay down the debt, and allow America to invest in new technologies for the future. We can’t afford to ignore any one of those benefits – let alone all of them – any longer.