The Middle East is more volatile than ever. From the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran, to a regime violently cracking down on its citizens in Syria, we are witnessing many events that we as a country do not support.
Ironically, we are in fact supporting these events we claim to condemn. This backing is financial, in the form of billions of dollars that we use to purchase oil from the region.
This does not have to continue. If we increase production of oil and gas here in North America, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reassert control over our own energy policy. President Obama even brought attention to the issue in his recent State of the Union speech. I am confident that if we start making the right steps now, we can reach this goal.
Our energy independence can only begin with the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, ramping up our natural gas production, and opening up federal lands for oil production. The Keystone Pipeline would run from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, transporting 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, North Dakota, and Montana to U.S. refineries, greatly reducing our dependence on overseas sources. Recently, a portion of the pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf was approved for construction, which is an important step in the right direction.
Additionally, there is enough natural gas supply in the United States to last our country over 100 years, including formations like the Woodford Shale right here in our great state of Oklahoma. This resource is clean and reliable, and it is a mistake to not fully harness its potential. It is for this reason I, along with my colleagues John Sullivan, John Larson, and Kevin Brady, introduced the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NAT GAS) Act. The NAT GAS Act will create a new tax credit for auto manufacturers to produce Natural Gas Vehicles, and maximize existing tax credits to attract real investments in infrastructure necessary to make these vehicles a marketable, viable option for American families. As a member of the bipartisan Natural Gas Caucus, I am committed to supporting the use of clean, plentiful, domestic natural gas.
Additionally, natural gas is itself one of the cleanest energy sources, with 95 percent less emissions than other fossil fuels. I know there have been some concerns raised about the environmental impact of the hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" necessary to extract oil and gas from shale formations. These concerns have been addressed, and the risks are controlled through careful procedures that protect our groundwater. The EPA released a study in 2004 that found fracturing to be safely regulated, and the Ground Water Protection Council confirmed these results in 2009.
Producing our own energy here in the United States just makes economic sense. First, these industries create jobs. The Keystone Pipeline alone would create about 15,000 direct jobs and nearly 100,000 related jobs. The natural gas industry also accounts for the employment of more than 620,000 Americans.
Increasing our domestic energy production will also support our own economic recovery. The Middle East is unpredictable, and political events affect gas prices here at home. Currently, the nuclear weapons brinkmanship in Iran has resulted in the United States and European Union threatening increased sanctions, which in turn has prompted Iran to threaten to cut off their supply of oil to the West through the Strait of Hormuz. This could block 20 percent of the world's oil supply, and would severely threaten recoveries both here and in fragile nations such as Italy and Greece. Many of you have already felt the impact at the pump as a result of these tensions. We will no longer be subject to these global fluctuations when we produce our own energy.
In these economic times, it does not make sense to continue to import our oil from overseas when we can produce clean, reliable, energy here at home. It is time that we take a serious look at our energy policy, and how we can move towards an energy future that is based on American resources. I look forward to continuing my work on this important issue throughout the remainder of my time in Congress.