Energy Independence – Reality or Rhetoric?
We have been promised energy independence every election and it has been a political platform for more than forty years and seven presidents. We are constantly told that reliance on foreign oil is both an economic and security threat to our nation. We are consistently given the magic “ten year” timeline to reach that independence; however, we have doubled our use and dependence of foreign oil in the past forty years! The Obama administration is ideologically trying to force only clean, green technology on us; however, we need to utilize all the resources we have available within our own borders and we need to begin right here and right now. Freshman Congressman Allen West (R-FL22) realizes the need for economic and energy independence and security. He has promoted the advantages of investing in our own oil, natural gas and coal industries. Not only would we produce jobs and grow the economy nationally but internationally as well. The time for energy independence rhetoric is over – we need someone that can and will lead America and treat the issue as a matter of importance instead of a campaign platform!
- What is the history behind the department of energy? What is their mission and is it working?
- Reality forty years later – have we reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil?
- Can we actually achieve independence? If so, in what ways?
- Do we concentrate our efforts on strictly clean, green technology or do we utilize the abundance of our own oil, natural gas and coal resources? Why do we need both?
- Where do our leaders stand on energy issues? Contrasts between president Barack Obama and Congressman Allen West (R-FL22)
Energy independence – Is it reality or rhetoric?
In the past forty years, seven American Presidents have warned of the danger of America’s growing reliance on foreign energy in 25 State of the Union addresses. On July 15, 1979 Jimmy Carter delivered his third State of the Union speech in which he argued the oil crisis was “the moral equivalent of war”. Several months later, in January 1980, Carter issued the Carter Doctrine, which declared that any interference with U.S. oil interests in the Persian Gulf would be considered an attack on the vital interests of the United States. Every President since then has repeated this sentiment and has promised us American energy freedom. However, we have more than doubled our dependence on foreign oil since the 1970s making us more vulnerable to foreign threats and making us less safe. Forty years of rhetoric and we are still unable to break away from our continuous need and dependence on foreign oil, nor have we achieved energy security by utilizing our own wealth of oil, gas and coal.
History of the Department of Energy – What is their mission and is it working?
Following the gas shortages and oil embargo in 1973 and again in 1977, President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Energy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil; develop energy efficient technologies; strengthen America’s energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality; and bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technologies to the marketplace. A huge federal bureaucracy was created. The Department of Energy brought together under one Cabinet secretary more than 50 agencies that dealt with energy, including the Atomic Energy Commission, Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration and the Federal Power Commission. Upon its creation in 1977, according to official estimates, the new DOE employed a total of 20,000 people. Today, the Department of Energy has more than 16,000 permanent employees and 100,000 contract employees around the nation. The agency’s budget, meanwhile, has ballooned from $8.4 billion in Fiscal Year 1980 to $26.5 billion in FY2010. Even with all that manpower and budget the DOE has been unable to accomplish its mission and we are still dependent on foreign oil; we do not have energy security or economic vitality; nor do we have much in the reliable and affordable energy technology department.
Reality forty years later – Have we reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil?
Imports have risen, not declined. In 1977, the U.S. imported 8,565,000 barrels of oil (net) per day, according to the DOE’s Energy Information Administration(EIA). By 2009, net imports were 9,667,000 barrels per day – over a million more barrels per day. In fact, by 1980, two years after the Energy Department was up and running, 37.3 percent of oil consumed in the U.S. came from foreign sources. By 2009, however, about 51 percent of the petroleum consumed by the United States was imported from foreign countries.
Domestic production has declined. The U.S. produced 3 billion barrels of oil in 1977, but by 2009, that was reduced to 1.95 billion, according to the EIA.
Oil consumption in the U.S. is up, not down. In 1977, the U.S. consumed 18.4 million barrels of oil per day. In 2009, we consumed 18.77 million barrels per day, making the U.S. the world’s largest petroleum consumer.
Gasoline usage has grown significantly. In 1977, the U.S. utilized 7.1 million barrels/day of gasoline. In 2009, Americans used 8,997,000 barrels/day, or 378 million gallons/day.
Gasoline prices have continued to rise. In 1979, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. was $0.58 per gallon, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Adjusted for inflation, that is the equivalent of $1.85 in 2010 dollars. In 2009, the average price of gasoline in the United States was $2.88 per gallon. During 2008, oil prices reached a record high of $145 a barrel, with gasoline prices of more than $4 per gallon throughout much of the nation. We saw more than $4 per gallon once again in2011. It is true we are seeing a slight reduction in prices at the pump. This is not because of any increase in the efficiency of our energy program, but because of the highly questionable release of millions of gallons of oil from our strategic reserves. (Political Vel Craft)
Can we actually achieve independence?
Do we concentrate our efforts on strictly clean, green technology or do we utilize the abundance of our own oil, natural gas, and coal resources? Why do we need both?
Our country needs action instead of rhetoric. Wind, solar, electric cars, and hydroelectricity are wonderful resources but would not work in some areas of the country. Elitists like Senator John Kerry don’t want wind turbines in their own back yard and environmentalists are complaining that windmills are killing eagles and condors. Solar may not work in areas like Seattle and, especially, Alaska where there is very little sunlight in the winter.
New research from the Environmental Working Group shows that corn-based ethanol bio-fuel is wasteful, inefficient, and a waste of taxpayer money. Ethanol is more expensive than it is worth in the long run. Taxpayer subsidies mean that every gallon of corn ethanol adds an additional 0.45 cents (as of 2009-10) to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. That’s additional cost over and above the price of a gallon of gas, not instead of it. Because ethanol is less efficient than gasoline it cuts mileage by about 4%. (Natural News)
We will always need gas, oil and coal and should find environmentally sound ways to produce them here in the United States. Local drilling and mining is not only possible – it is necessary. It would afford us energy independence, energy security, and economic security.
While careful consideration must be taken in steps to help us become energy independent, we have been dithering for over 40 years now. Yes, we need clean, reliable and affordable energy; however, an effective policy embraces and encourages the use of affordable, abundant and reliable domestic energy resources, American resources – resources that belong to us, the citizens of this country. To do otherwise would cause higher energy prices, make American manufacturing uncompetitive, and send American jobs out of the country. Restrictive legislation and environmental regulations that levy taxes on the production of electricity or petroleum raise the cost of doing business for companies and the cost of living for consumers. America has an abundance of onshore and offshore energy resources that can enable the affordable transportation of goods locally, regionally and internationally.
Many small businesses and families struggle to make ends meet during this fragile economic rebound; the last thing we need is rapidly increasing electricity, fuel and food prices. By simultaneously maximizing access to global energy supplies and exploration of domestic resources, America can achieve energy independence instead of being at the mercy of dictators and cartels. However, the federal government has blocked access to much of the country’s natural gas and oil. We are trading freedom and free enterprise for barrels of oil from hostile governments and we must do better. (The Heritage Foundation )
By 2030, the United States could secure 92 percent of its liquid fuels from secure sources (i.e. the US and Canada) with access to oil resources on public lands and in federal waters that are currently off-limits, (see below) and with the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline which would bring additional oil supplies from Canada. Currently, we depend on sources outside the US and Canada for 38 percent of our liquid fuels, according to the US Energy Information Administration. (API)
A 2008 report by the U.S. Department of the Interior indicates that 62 percent of domestic oil reserves and 41 percent of natural gas reserves on federal lands are inaccessible, not due to any physical impediments, but to political ones. Unfortunately, policy leaders are beginning to repeat past mistakes. The federal government has blocked access to much of the country’s natural gas and, like for oil, has increased imports of natural gas as the country loses manufacturing jobs to foreign competitors. In Alaska, the Obama Administration blocked exploration of the barren North Slope which holds approximately 12 billion barrels of oil and 73 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The administration opposes opening 2,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration and also broke its promise to allow continental coastal states to engage in offshore drilling for at least seven years. More natural gas is being found in shale (natural gas trapped in shale rock formations) and has been more economically recovered over the past decade through fairly new technologies in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. (The Heritage Foundation)
The Clinton administration established several national monuments during a massive land grab in the 1990s without the consent of state governments. This cut off access to more than 11 billion tons of recoverable, low-sulfur, high-btu coal to the detriment of Utah and its residents. More recently the Department of the Interior identified land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington totaling approximately 13,535,000 acres and national monuments. In February of 2009 they cancelled 77 existing oil and natural gas leases in Utah, putting at risk millions of dollars in revenues for the state as well as more than 2,000 jobs. In the spring of 2010 Utah governor Gary Herbert signed legislation authorizing the state to use the power of eminent domain to seize federal lands and open them for energy production. Another massive land grab is being conducted in the flood ravaged areas of Missouri by the Army Corps of Engineers, who flooded the land, and is now offering to buy the land back from residents.
America has, by far, the largest coal reserves in the world, which are vital for affordable electricity and jobs. With advances in technology, Americans can use coal gasification or liquefaction for transportation, manufacturing, and home heating. The United States has 25 percent of the world’s coal reserves. American coal provides reliable and affordable electricity, and provides 48 percent of the entire country’s electric power generation. However, in his own words, Obama wants to bankrupt the coal companies causing energy prices to ‘necessarily skyrocket’! (The Heritage Foundation)
Domestic oil production would reduce our obscene dependency on foreign oil while coal production would ensure that we can all enjoy the most affordable electricity insofar as coal is responsible for just over half of all electricity generated. Fortunately for Americans, Exxon has not abandoned the search for new sources of domestic oil, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars this requires. In early June it announced large discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, the first in decades. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the company “unveiled three discoveries that are likely to turn it into one of the biggest producers of oil and gas in the region.”
On the same day, Seldon B. Graham, Jr., an oil engineer and attorney, had a letter in The Wall Street Journal in which he noted that “the actual price of U.S. oil is cheaper than the actual price of foreign oil” advising readers that the “the oil price” cited in the media is actually a reflection of Wall Street speculators making bets on the future, not the market price. “U.S. consumers,” said Graham “could save some $17.7 billion annually at the current price difference if U.S. oil replaced foreign oil.” (Tea Party Nation)
Where do our leaders stand on energy issues? Contrasts between President Barack Obama and Congressman Allen West (R-FL22)
In the 2008 debate with John McCain, Obama was asked how much we could reduce foreign oil imports. His response was: “In ten years we can reduce our dependence so that we no longer have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela. Number one, we need to expand domestic production and that means telling the oil companies the 68 million acres that they currently have leased that they’re not drilling, use them or lose them.” This is not being done and he is not promoting domestic drilling at this time.
In the same debate Obama said, “Contrary to what Sen. McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix.” However, he has previously been more hesitant on nuclear power. At a town hall meeting in Newton, Iowa in 2007 he said, “I start off with the premise that nuclear power is not optimal. I am not a nuclear energy proponent.” The energy plan he released in October 2007 only grudgingly conceded that more nuclear power is probably needed to reduce carbon emissions: “It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table.” At the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Obama said that as President he would tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. He would invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in renewable energy. He has tapped our oil reserves and is definitely spending money but we see no effort in utilizing our own resources. (On The Issues – Barack Obama)
Was tapping our oil reserves the right move? According to a recent article by the Heritage Foundation, “Clearly, President Obama is putting politics and polls ahead of responsible governance and a smart energy policy. Even The Washington Post’s editorial board agrees. Last Friday, in a scathing editorial entitled “The wrong reason for depleting the strategic oil reserve,” the Post argues the White House is likely more focused on a “political emergency” and “the government should not tap the reserve absent a genuine crisis.”” (The Heritage Foundation)
According to and article in Reuters, Obama continues to push ethanol, clean energy and other bio-fuels and wants to cap greenhouse gases. In October 2009 Obama signed the energy, water spending bill into law – a $33.5 billion spending bill to fund government energy and water programs for the 2010 budget year that began October 1. Following are key provisions in the bill:
- Solar Energy: $225 million for research, development, and demonstration projects to make solar energy more affordable.
- Bio-fuels:$220 million for grants to improve production of alternative fuels such as cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel.
- Vehicle Technology: $311 million to improve fuel efficiency with better engines, better batteries and engines that burn clean, domestic fuel.
- Hydrogen Technology: $174 million to help develop hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies.
- Energy Efficient Buildings: $200 million to research conservation technologies for buildings and industry to reduce energy demand.
- Industrial Technologies: $96 million to help businesses improve energy efficiency.
- Weatherization Grants: $210 million for insulation and energy conservation measures to reduce utility bills for low-income families.
- Electricity: $172 million to research smart-grid technologies and energy storage and defend the power system against Internet attacks.
- Fossil Fuels: $672 million for research to reduce harmful emissions from fossil fuels, including $404 million for carbon capture and sequestration for coal-based activities.
- Nuclear: $787 million for research and development, including $169 million for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant.
- Nuclear Cleanup: $6.4 billion to clean up military and civilian nuclear facilities.
- Nuclear Weapons: $2.1 billion for nonproliferation activities and $6.4 billion to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
- Significant cuts include nuclear waste disposal. The White House scrapped the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The bill gives $197 million, $92 million below 2009, to continue the licensing process and evaluate alternatives.
Regarding Alaska’s natural gas reserves, in a speech in Lansing, Michigan he called for the completion of the Alaska natural gas pipeline, stating, “Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas productions And we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska natural gas pipeline, delivering clean natural gas and creating good jobs in the process.” Although no progress has been made on the pipeline, he did, however, vote to ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and designated it as protected wilderness. (On The Issues – Barack Obama)
He froze all offshore drilling following the BP fiasco and the six month moratorium cost 8169 jobs, according to a study by one Louisiana State University professor, along with more than $487 million in wages and nearly $98 million in forfeited state tax revenues in the Gulf states alone.
He also wants to end the use of coal for electricity thereby skyrocketing energy costs to the consumer. Listen to his own words where he discusses how he would like to bankrupt the coal companies in the San Francisco Chronicle story published on January 18, 2008 based upon this January 17 interview:
“Let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there. I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted downcaps that are being placed, imposed every year.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it. So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” Read more: Newsbusters
Congressman Allen West (R-FL22) has only been in office since January 2011 and believes energy independence is vital to our country. “The new battlefield of the 21st century centers on energy independence, truly a national security issue. We can no longer suffer the deficiencies of the Department of Energy, nor be held hostage by extremist environmental groups blocking efforts to develop clean, safe energy development in the U.S. Saudi Arabia stands with the growing cartel of Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, China, and Russia as they vie to control energy resources across the world, thereby having a stranglehold and dictating our foreign policy.”
He also believes that now is the time to take aim on making America energy independent and developing our full spectrum of resources. That means we must invest in oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, hydrogen, cost effective bio-fuels, wind, and solar research, exploration, refinement, and development. America must look at energy independence much the same as having a diversified investment portfolio. We must embark upon a plan to drill for our own oil and natural gas resources wherever they lie within our continental rights. We should create incentives for our coal industry, not punitive measures such as Cap and Trade legislation, which will inhibit the investment in proven energy that we rely on. We have to restart our nuclear program as the technology has so greatly improved. We led the way in harnessing the power of nuclear energy, let us reclaim that title. The advancement of these efforts will lead to our energy independence, decrease funding to our enemies and provide affordable energy to all Americans.
The promotion of renewable energy resources is a vital part of what should be our national energy plan. However, forcing a “green agenda” is not how you address our energy independence, and certainly not how you advance our national security. Spain has already proven the false promises of the green agenda does nothing to improve employment, a nation’s economy or build energy self sufficiency. We must reduce our absurd corporate/business tax rates to a flat rate between 17-20% while providing tax incentives to inspire employment, innovation, investment, ingenuity, and growth in the energy private sector, and ensuring we maintain proper oversight.
Each week Congressman West issues a Weekly Wrap-Up regarding his activities for the week and most include recent Legislative Updates. The following are updates regarding some of his energy votes in 2011:
May – Putting the Gulf Back to Work – The House approved H.R. 1229 by a vote of 263-163, I voted YES.
The bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and would require the Secretary of the Interior to provide application denials in writing, complete with reasons why the application was not accepted, detailed information concerning any deficiencies, and any opportunities to remedy such deficiencies. H.R. 1229 would deem an application approved if the Secretary has not made a decision by the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date the application is received by the Secretary. H.R. 1229 would set deadlines for certain permit applications under existing leases, and it would provide 30 days, with no extension, for the Secretary to restart Gulf permits approved before the Administration’s moratorium was imposed on May 27, 2010. According to the Obama Administration’s own estimates, the six-month “official moratorium” (May2010-October2010) on drilling may have cost up to 12,000 American jobs. However, the long-term impacts of the de-facto moratorium could be significantly higher. A study by Dr. Joseph Mason of Louisiana State University predicts if the de-facto moratorium were sustained for 18 months, there could be a loss of 36,137 jobs nationwide, with 24,532 jobs lost in the Gulf Coast region alone.
May – Reversing President Obama’s Moratorium Act — The House approved H.R. 1231 by a vote of 243-179, I voted YES.
The bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to require that each five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program offer leasing in the areas with the most prospective oil and gas resources, and would establish a domestic oil and natural gas production goal. The bill would essentially lift the President’s ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward on American energy production in areas estimated to contain the most oil and natural gas resources. Since President Obama took office, he has systematically taken steps to re-impose a new offshore drilling moratorium. The President first abandoned the 2010-2015 leasing plan that would have provided for oil and natural gas leasing in the newly opened areas. His administration postponed and cancelled previously scheduled lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Virginia identified in the 2007-2012 five-year leasing plan for the Outer Continental Shelf. In December 2010, the President announced a restrictive drilling plan that placed the entire Pacific Coast, the entire Atlantic record high gasoline prices in 2008 prompted President Bush and Congress to lift the moratoria.
May – the House approved H.R. 1230 by a vote of 264-149, and I voted “YEA”.
The bill would require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, as well as in an area off the coast of Virginia. The bill expands America’s energy production, creates jobs, and generates revenue for taxpayers. According to CBO estimates, the bill would reduce net direct spending by $25 million over the 2011-2016 period and about $40 million over the 2011-2021 period.
April – the House approved the Energy Tax Prevention Act, H.R. 910 by a vote of 255-172, (19 Democrats voted Yea).
H.R. 910 would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases (GHG) to address climate change under the Clean Air Act. More specifically, the bill would prohibit the EPA from regulating: water vapor; carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide; sulfur hexafluoride; hydro-fluorocarbons; perfluorocarbons; and any other substance subject to regulation, action or consideration under the Clean Air Act to address climate change. Because certain EPA activities associated with regulating GHGs would be prohibited under the bill, CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would save $57 million in 2012 and about $250 million over the 2012-2016 period, assuming that appropriations in those years were reduced accordingly. This legislation was considered in response to efforts by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases and administratively implement a “cap-and-tax” system – a system similar to the one that Democrats failed to advance in the111th Congress.
April - I strongly support an all-of-the-above energy approach that includes development of natural gas, clean coal, and American produced oil, as well as alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro-power, nuclear, geothermal and biomass. This plan will create new job opportunities in Florida and throughout the country while making us less dependent on foreign energy. Now is the time to make America energy-independent by encouraging the indomitable spirit of American ingenuity and developing our full spectrum of energy resources. America must look at energy independence much the same as having a diversified investment portfolio built upon the solid foundation of proven methods in both energy extraction and economic development.
March – Gas prices continue to spike, some of the highest prices ever for this time period in America. Once again, we got a nice speech from the President, but we still do not have a visionary proposal to develop our full spectrum of energy resources in America. Energy independence is a national security issue, an economic issue, and would certainly stimulate job growth in America. We have heard time and time again that this kind of visionary thinking will take too long. Funny thing, I remember hearing back in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s that it would take ten years. Instead I know that we have sent $2B of taxpayer dollars to Brazil for offshore oil exploration…”Who is leading America?”
January – Offshore Drilling – West wants to expand domestic oil supplies while developing solar power and other alternatives. That includes more offshore drilling. Energy experts say offshore drilling would have little impact on gas prices. But West said more drilling would make the nation less dependent on foreign supplies and no longer compelled to “send money to people [abroad] who want to see us killed.” He brushed off the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last summer as “an isolated incident.” Rather than push rigs into deeper waters, West wants to bring them close to shore. “We need to make sure it’s close enough so we don’t have what happened in the Gulf, where [the leaking well] was so deep we couldn’t get out there and take the emergency procedures to rectify that type of spill.”
The Department of Energy has failed us and we would love for Congressman West to have the opportunity to accomplish what Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been unable to do in over 40 years of the Presidency! He will not fail us. Congressman Allen West is dedicated to the security and safety of all Americans and will do everything in his power to accomplish that mission. He believes in energy and economic independence and knows they are vital to our national security. He may not always be politically correct (which is one reason he is so admired) but he is always a Patriot. If only HE were running for President!!!