Weekly Columns

Energy Independence Is A Key Part of Economic Recovery

f t # e
Washington, June 13, 2012 | comments

According to AAA, a gallon of gas in the U.S. today costs an average of $3.52. The day President Obama was inaugurated, a gallon averaged $1.84. It’s no coincidence that as gas prices soared, so has our national unemployment rate. It is clear to see that the road to economic recovery requires our country to enact a comprehensive national energy policy.

To ease the pain at the pump, we must work towards becoming an energy independent nation; to be an energy independent nation, we must pursue a true all-of-the-above energy policy.  We can and should pursue new supplies of available, affordable energy sources, including new sources of oil, natural gas, nuclear and coal, as well as renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. 

Despite unemployment rising to 8.2 percent in May, the Obama Administration continues to push new restrictions on coal that would cost billions of dollars and put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.

On June 2nd, I attended the Federation for American Coal Energy and Security’s (FACES) Appalachian Coal Jobs Rally. Among the thousands in attendance were miners and families whose lives are dependent upon the coal industry. Coal is a huge boost to the economy in Northeast Tennessee, and our country’s most abundant resource. It provides reliable, affordable electricity and accounts for thousands of jobs throughout the country, and our region specifically.

The Administration isn’t only targeting coal, however. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Boiler MACT rule alone would cost over $14 billion in capital plus billions more in operating costs and could eliminate over 230,000 jobs. These alarming numbers show just how devastating new regulations could be to an already struggling economy. That is why I voted in support of the EPA Regulatory Relief Act last October.  This bipartisan legislation would give federal regulators additional time and guidelines to develop rules that will protect jobs while ensuring safeguards for the environment. This bill currently awaits further action in the Senate.

Last Wednesday, the House Energy Action Team (HEAT) – of which I am a member – unveiled the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, aimed at reducing energy costs and spurring economic growth. The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act will help lower fuel costs and create good-paying American jobs.

First, this legislation would put several costly and potentially burdensome EPA regulations on hold while an interagency committee conducts an analysis on the potential costs and consequences of these rules.  To me, it is unthinkable that we wouldn’t ask agencies to consider the impact of a regulation on jobs and the economy, particularly at a time of such economic uncertainty.  

To boost our energy production, Domestic Energy and Jobs Act will require the Secretary of Interior to act on oil and natural gas lease applications, and will cut red tape on opening up new reserves in Alaska.  This legislation would also restrict the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) from being tapped unless the Administration develops a plan to allow more leases to explore for additional sources of oil.  Lastly, this legislation would require the Secretary of Interior to establish an all-of-the-above energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation’s energy needs and then establishing goals to meet those needs by utilizing all available resources including: oil, natural gas, coal, wind and solar.

Obtaining energy independence is a key component to economic recovery, and it is also an issue of national security. Becoming energy independent is far too important to the future of this country. I hope the president will support the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act and I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to promote a true all-of-the-above approach to addressing our nation’s energy crisis.

f t # e