By Representative Michele Bachmann
As gasoline prices continue to rise across the nation, Minnesotans are not exempt from the impact on their family budgets. Faced with having to make ends meet, many of my constituents are joining with their fellow Americans and demanding answers from Congress and President Obama.
I am pleased to report that the United States is the third largest oil producer in the world. Our problem is not that we lack energy - the problem is that we don't have access to that energy. According to a recent report from the Institute for Energy Research that catalogued government sources of energy, the United States has more than 1.4 trillion recoverable barrels of oil. This is enough to meet our current needs for the next 200 years. We have the energy, but government policies keep most of it off limits.
President Obama claims that "there's no silver bullet" to the problem of high gasoline prices and that increasing drilling activity is just a "bumper sticker solution." President Obama is wrong; increasing oil production in the United States can lower the price of oil and, importantly, create thousands of jobs at home.
In 2008, when President Bush lifted the executive moratorium on drilling in most of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the price of oil dropped more than $9 per barrel almost immediately after the announcement. It decreased further after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that Congress would allow its own moratorium on offshore drilling to expire. This example illustrates how the market factors in our leaders' energy decisions to anticipate what future supply and demand will look like, and refutes the president's claim that opening more areas for drilling today won't have an impact on gasoline prices.
In the United States, where much of our vast energy resources remain untapped, decisions to restrict access to our natural resources could have a particularly significant effect on the global state of supply. All told, the Congressional Research Service estimates that our nation has the world's largest combined reserves of oil, natural gas and coal. Despite this resource wealth, however, the president and his administration have undertaken an unprecedented number of actions to curtail both our initial access to these resources, and how much we use of them in our homes, in our cars and at our businesses.
Though the president repeatedly claims that oil and gas production has gone up under his administration, he conveniently omits the fact that these gains are occurring on state and private lands beyond the reach of the federal government, in spite of the federal government. Energy production on federal lands is in fact decreasing, and today only a miniscule 3 percent of lands are actually leased for energy production.
If the president were really serious about addressing the challenge of high gasoline prices, he would order his administration to cease its assault on domestic energy production. This would signal to OPEC and the rest of the world that the United States is open for business and ready to compete.
Energy is the lifeblood of our economy, and Minnesotans and all Americans deserve tangible solutions that will strengthen our energy future - not the empty promises of subsidized, renewable energy that brought us the failed Chevy Volt and Solyndra. Our government need only heed the lessons of history that show while decades of subsidies haven't helped wind and solar become profitable, timely decisions on energy production can have an impact today.
Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, represents Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.