Friday, February 24, 2012

Gas Prices & Energy Issues Are Front Burner In Political Discussions

Feb 23: At a lengthy and rousing energy speech at the University of Miami, President Obama tried to head off criticisms of rising gasoline prices and the Administration's energy policies. The President said:
"In the State of the Union, I laid out three areas where we need to focus if we want to build an economy that lasts and is good for the next generation, all of you.  (Applause.)  We need new American manufacturing.  We've got to have new skills and education for America's workers, and we need new sources of American-made energy.
Now, right now we are experiencing just another painful reminder of why developing new energy is so critical to our future.  Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country. . . Now, some politicians they see this as a political opportunity. . . Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically. . . You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their 3-point plan for $2 gas.  And I'll save you the suspense.  Step one is to drill and step two is to drill. And then step three is to keep drilling. We heard the same line in 2007 when I was running for President. We hear the same thing every year. We've heard the same thing for 30 years. . .
"You know there are no quick fixes to this problem. You know we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. If we're going to take control of our energy future and can start avoiding these annual gas price spikes that happen every year -- when the economy starts getting better, world demand starts increasing, turmoil in the Middle East or some other parts of the world -- if we're going to avoid being at the mercy of these world events, we've got to have a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. Yes, oil and gas, but also wind and solar and nuclear and biofuels, and more. . .
"We're not going to transition out of oil anytime soon. And that's why under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That's why we have a record number of oilrigs operating right now -- more working oil and gas rigs than the rest of the world combined. Over the last three years my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada. And we've opened millions of acres for oil and gas exploration. All told we plan to make available more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico. . .
But here's the thing -- it's not enough. The amount of oil that we drill at home doesn't set the price of gas by itself. The oil market is global; oil is bought and sold in a world market. And just like last year, the single biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to spike right now is instability in the Middle East -- this time around Iran. When uncertainty increases, speculative trading on Wall Street increases, and that drives prices up even more. . .
So what does this mean for us? It means that anybody who tells you that we can drill our way out of this problem doesn't know what they're talking about, or just isn't telling you the truth. . . The United States consumes more than a fifth of the world's oil -- more than 20 percent of the world's oil -- just us. We only have 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. We consume 20; we've got 2. And that means we can't just rely on fossil fuels from the last century.  We can't just allow ourselves to be held hostage to the ups and downs of the world oil market. We've got to keep developing new sources of energy.  We've got to develop new technology that helps us use less energy, and use energy smarter. We've got to rely on American know-how and young engineers right here at the U who are focused on energy. That is our future. And that's exactly the path that my administration has been trying to take these past three years. . .
Now, it's the easiest thing in the world to make phony election-year promises about lower gas prices. What's harder is to make a serious, sustained commitment to tackle a problem. And it won't be solved in one year; it won't be solved in one term; it may not be completely solved in one decade. But that's the kind of commitment we need right now. That's what this moment requires. . . And I know we can do it. We have done it before. And when we do, we will remind the world once again just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth."
    Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy, issued a statement in response to President's remarks saying, "As the President said, there is no silver bullet that will decrease gas prices and improve our energy security. However, there are a series of significant steps that this President could take that would lead us to a more secure energy and economic future, but this Administration has rejected that path. Today's speech contained two fundamental mischaracterizations. The first is the notion that raising taxes on oil companies is going to lower gas prices. It won't, and we know it won't because it has been tried before. The result was higher prices and more imports. 

    "The second is that this Administration is somehow responsible for the uptick we've seen recently in domestic production. It's not. Because of the restrictions this Administration has placed on accessing public land, as well as the ever-increasing amount of red tape, the energy industry has moved to produce oil and gas on private lands. Also, credit is due to policy decisions made years ago in previous Administrations. The fact that the administration would repeatedly try to take credit for this shows a troubling lack of understanding of energy production in this country. 

    "The results of the President's 'just say no' energy policy will be felt in the years to come. The facts speak for themselves. President Obama's administration has issued 50.7 percent fewer annual leases on public lands than President Clinton's did. Gulf of Mexico energy production is down 16 percent since 2009 and is projected to decrease even further in 2012. President Obama denied the Keystone XL pipeline permit, which would have created thousands of jobs and provided all Americans with a steady supply of oil from a friendly ally. He also has banned new offshore areas from oil and gas exploration, and recently his Administration took one million acres of onshore land rich with oil shale off the table. The American people can see that the current approach is not working. But we cannot have a constructive conversation about energy policy as long as this Administration fails to put forward any new ideas, relying instead on four year old campaign rhetoric. It isn't enough just to be for an 'all of the above' energy policy in a speech. It's time to actually propose one."
    The American Petroleum Institute (API) challenged the President to back up his energy statements with policies that will enhance, not hinder an 'all the above' energy strategy to benefit consumers. API President & CEO Jack Gerard said, "In an effort to ease the pain at the pump the president is misleading Americans about his energy strategy. President Obama says he's committed to domestic oil and natural gas production, but the fact is his record shows otherwise.

    "Since taking office he has declared 85 percent of our offshore areas off limits, decreased oil and gas leases in the Rockies by 70 percent, rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and has ten federal agencies planning more regulation of hydraulic fracturing, which is key to oil and natural gas development. The president's Jekyll and Hyde approach to energy security is hurting consumers. We urge the president to work with our industry to generate more supply to the market and create new American jobs. If the president didn't think supply mattered in the price equation, why did he tap into the SPR last year? Instead of raiding our emergency reserves again, we hope the president will put this industry to work so we can produce more oil and natural gas for American by Americans."
    Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, issued a statement saying, "The Sierra Club is encouraged by the President's continued commitment in his speech today to double down on clean energy sources like wind, solar and energy efficiency for economic growth and job creation. We applaud the President's goals for ramping up new American manufacturing, new skills and education for American workers and new sources of American-made energy -- there is no better way to fulfill those goals than with a clean energy economy. As the President said, rising gas prices are a painful reminder of why we need to move beyond oil. We will not drill our way out of this perennial problem. We need to move beyond dirty fossil fuels and keep fragile, treasured places like the Polar Bear Seas in the Arctic out of polluters' reach.

    "The President's historic fuel economy and pollution standards will put better, more fuel efficient cars on the road. These standards are the biggest single step we can take to break our dangerous addiction to oil and they will save Americans billions at the pump. We urge the President to deliver our cleanest, quickest and cheapest options first, and resist falling back on more expensive and dangerous new nuclear power and fracked natural gas. As it stands, the Sierra Club has no confidence in the secretive and toxic practices of natural gas fracking, nor do we think that new nuclear has any role to play in America's clean energy future. The more we leverage cheap energy efficiency, the fewer new power plants and fracking wells we will need."

    Access the full text of the President's speech (click here). Access a video of the President's speech (click here). Access the statement from the U.S. Chamber (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access the statement from Sierra Club(click here). [#Energy]

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