Murkowski Responds to President’s Comments on Rising Gas Prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement in response to the President’s comments on rising energy prices:

“At a time when oil prices remain close to $100 a barrel, and nationwide gasoline prices are averaging more than $3.50 a gallon, American families and businesses want a plan that will lead to real relief at the pump. Today, the president failed to deliver that plan. 

“Among the most misleading statistics used by opponents of new production is that ‘America has two percent of the world’s oil reserves, but consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil.’  I was deeply disappointed to hear it repeated today.  That statement ignores the fact that America is the world’s third-largest oil producer, and our ‘proven reserves’ are just a small part of our nation’s oil resource.  To understand why this statement is so deceptive, consider this: while America’s proven oil reserves have never exceeded 40 billion barrels, we have actually produced almost 200 billion barrels of oil since 1900,” Murkowski said. 

The president also claimed credit for the fact that domestic oil production is at its highest point since 2003 – right before he announced that new production was not a solution to this emerging crisis because it would take time to bring to market.  The inconsistency between those points – especially as he called for a long-term energy policy – is striking. 

America’s oil production rose in 2010 largely because the Bush administration fought for years to enact pro-production policies to create conditions that would make that possible. The president didn’t mention that while 2010 was a good year, it could have been much better.  Decades of opposition in Congress and elsewhere have forced us to forgo a number of opportunities to increase production – and since taking office, this administration has also brought about an array of delays, suspensions, revocations and outright cancellations of oil leases. Earlier today, it was reported that former President Bill Clinton, talking about oil and gas leasing, said there are “ridiculous delays in permitting when our economy doesn’t need it.”

We know what the end result of those actions will be – less production, more imports, and higher oil prices – and in the years ahead, the consequences of decisions being made today will become even more painful.  At a time when the administration is tying leaseholders’ hands in places like Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and the Rocky Mountain West, the so-called ‘idle leases’ argument is also inappropriate.  

“The truth is, the extent of America’s petroleum resources has been mischaracterized for nearly a century,” Murkowski said. “Earlier today, I released a Congressional Research Service report with Sen. Inhofe of Oklahoma showing that the United States has the largest recoverable fossil fuel endowment on Earth.  Included in those resources are an estimated 163 billion barrels of oil, including at least 40 billion in Alaska alone, but they are effectively off-limits to development.  It’s time to take advantage of those resources and produce more of the energy we consume.

“The president said that he was ‘looking at’ additional production in Alaska.  That’s precisely the problem.  Given world events, high prices, and all the benefits that accompany oil production, ‘looking at’ more production doesn’t result in jobs for anyone but government bureaucrats and doesn’t result in lower gas prices for anyone.  We need to find more and use less. We need to actually move on – not look at – new oil production throughout America.”