Weekly Columns

Domestic Energy Production Can Pave Road to Lower Unemployment

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Washington, August 15, 2012 | comments

July marked the 42nd consecutive month that unemployment has been at or above 8 percent on the president’s watch, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The labor force participation rate, which measures individuals working or looking for work, remained low in July with many Americans giving up on finding a job. If the percentage of those looking for work were as high today as at the beginning of the recession, unemployment would be a staggering 11.5 percent. These troubling numbers are a direct result of the president’s failed economic policies and the Democrat-led Senate’s refusal to vote on House-passed, job-creating legislation. To date, 32 job-creating bills await action in the Senate.

There was some good news last month—oil production is up in the United States. The Energy Information Administration, (EIA) expects U.S. total crude oil production to average 6.3 million barrels per day in 2012, the highest level since 1997. A promising report released by Citigroup, “Energy 2020: North America, the New Middle East?” estimated that the energy industry in the United States could “add as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020 and increase the gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent.” This stems from having a greater domestic energy supply combined with lower demand.

No greater argument can be made for an all-of-the-above energy approach. To increase supply and lower demand, we can and should tap all supplies of available, affordable energy, including oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar and other renewables. The energy sector can help drive economic recovery—if we let it. There are currently nine House-passed energy bills awaiting a vote in the Senate that will allow us to tap our abundant supply of natural resources in America, develop new sources of clean energy and create jobs here at home.

Among these bills is the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which passed the House with my strong support by a vote of 248 to 163. This legislation would put several costly and potentially burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on hold while an analysis on the potential costs and consequences of these rules is conducted.  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, the 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 the 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.

There are many ways to address our nation’s fiscal and unemployment crises, but numbers do not lie. Increasing our domestic energy supply and reducing demand will lead to lower unemployment and decreased cost to energy consumers.

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