America Does Not Need a San Francisco Energy Policy

When Democrats took control of Congress last year, they promised to do something about energy prices. They have delivered on that promise by driving the price of oil to an all-time high of $99 per barrel and forcing families to tighten their budgets. Apparently unfazed by this dramatic increase, the Democratic leadership is poised to deliver legislation that will drive prices even higher and make us more reliant on foreign sources of energy.

Leaving Americans in the Dark

Behind closed doors, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) are piecing together an energy bill that they plan to unfold sometime in December. In addition to violating procedural rules they promised to uphold, this secretive process prevents both Republicans and Democrats from heading off offensive provisions that would otherwise receive public scrutiny. It appears it is not just the majority’s energy plan, but also the process that leaves Americans in the dark.

The mad scientists behind those locked doors are using the remains of two considerably flawed energy bills that came one each from the House and from the Senate. Every objective analysis of both bills concludes they will hurt the U.S. economy. A recent study conducted by a highly respected nonpartisan business consulting firm estimated that that by 2030, the House and Senate energy bills will cause the loss of five million American jobs, a 4% reduction in gross domestic product annually (more than $1 trillion) and an estimated loss of $1,700 in spending power for the average household each year.

Bureaucratic Hurdles

The House bill, in particular, is designed to increase bureaucratic hurdles to domestic energy production from oil, natural gas, wind, solar and biomass and punish American energy companies for being in the business of making energy.

Here are just a few of the worst examples of how Democrats would make energy more expensive and less available to Americans. Their plan:

l Cuts off nine trillion cubic feet in natural gas from the Colorado Roan Plateau. This is enough clean-burning natural gas to heat four million homes for 20 years.

l Cuts off two trillion barrels of oil from oil shale resources. This is twice the total proven oil reserves available in the world.

l Dramatically expands the environmental study requirements on existing oil- and gas-drilling pads. This provision alone is expected to reduce or delay our onshore natural-gas supply by approximately 18%.

l Breaches legitimate legal offshore energy contracts between companies and the U.S. government in much the same way as Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin.

l Cuts off 10 billion barrels of oil from the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, as though derailing production of 10 billion barrels from the Artic National Wildlife Refuge weren’t enough.

l Cuts off government agencies’ communication for oil- and gas-permitting activities as they do under current energy law.

l Raises the tax on American-made oil and refined products by as much as 9%. This tax will simply be passed on to consumers.

Dangerous Reliance on Foreign Sources

Since their plan will make domestic energy harder and more expensive to produce, the majority’s energy future creates a dangerous reliance on foreign energy sources. They have repeatedly prevented the use of energy resources in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf and locked up a large portion of our public lands that are rich in energy. Without access to domestic sources, we will become increasingly reliant on energy from ruthless dictators such as Hugo Chavez or from highly volatile regions of the world like the Middle East.

This is not a good time to be experimenting with San Francisco-style energy policies. Our fastest-growing competitors for energy around the world are China and India, who are expected to surpass the United States in economic output within two decades. Both countries vaulted past America at the beginning of this year as an exporter and have since moved at lightning speed to eclipse Germany’s once insurmountable export machine.
While China and India are using every type of energy they can get their hands on, our leadership in Congress is trying to severely limit our energy options.

America needs energy to survive. If we have the means to ensure that survival, we shouldn’t lock it up and throw away the key.