At a time when people are asking "where are the jobs,' thousands of high-paying jobs are waiting to be created in America's energy industry. Jobs can be created today by further developing America's natural resources such as oil and natural gas, and expanding on new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," a critical tool in tapping the huge potential of our country's natural gas supply.
Instead of a comprehensive national energy policy that would create jobs, this Administration and the liberals running Congress are trying to ram through a "cap and trade" national energy tax that will actually ship millions of jobs overseas and raise energy prices on American families, and these same people continue to threaten our energy security through attempts to put an end to new technologies like "fracking."
In Louisiana, the energy industry is among our top employers, and we are proud to be one of the largest producers of domestic energy in the United States. Louisiana has the second largest refining capacity in the United States, with 2,300 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, and 19 crude oil refineries. More than 80 percent of the nation's offshore oil and gas is produced off our coast.
Louisiana's offshore energy industry continues to create thousands of high-paying jobs, while helping to decrease our dependence on oil from the Middle East. And more recently, our state has seen huge successes onshore in the Haynesville shale. By using environmentally-sound energy production technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling, we are safely unlocking huge amounts of clean-burning, job-creating natural gas.
In fact, thanks to hydraulic fracturing -- which has been safely used for 60 years -- Louisiana's energy industry created almost 33,000 new jobs and generated $3.2 billion into our state's economy. Unfortunately, this much-needed economic activity and job creation is being threatened by misguided Washington policies such as the national energy tax known as "cap and trade" and the billions in new, burdensome taxes on homegrown energy exploration proposed in the President's budget.
Some in Washington are even working to strip energy-producing states of their ability to regulate fracking. Turning this authority over to unelected radicals running the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would threaten energy production altogether and could severely hurt job creation and economic activity at a time when we absolutely need it.
Louisiana's Legislature is formally urging Congress to ensure that hydraulic fracturing remains tightly and effectively regulated by the states, as it has been for 60 years. Louisiana is not alone in this fight. A number of other energy-producing states that share Louisiana's common sense approach to allow states to effectively regulate fracking have passed similar resolutions.
Turning the regulation of fracking over to the EPA is not only unnecessary, but would represent nothing more than a one-size-fits-all power-grab by those who oppose responsible, 21st century American energy production. Louisiana along with virtually every other energy-producing state already has comprehensive laws and regulations in place to protect their local drinking water sources and to ensure that shale gas production does not compromise the environment.
Because of these effective state protections -- and the commitment from industry -- hydraulic fracturing has been used in over one million wells throughout the United States without even one single case of ground water contamination. Not one in 60 years. And the EPA confirmed this fact at a Senate hearing just weeks ago.
Fracking is not only a safe way of increasing our nation's domestic energy supply, but it is an innovative, efficient and effective way to reduce our dependence on Middle-Eastern oil, create good American jobs and keep energy prices low for struggling families, seniors and small businesses.
The American people want their elected officials to work together to develop common sense solutions that will help redirect our weakened economy. Congress must stop the reckless spending sprees and the overreaching regulations being proposed by liberals that will run more jobs out of our country. Rather than their radical agenda, we should promote ideas that create jobs and harness -- not stifle -- the American ingenuity that has helped us become the greatest nation in the world.
Congressman Scalise is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.