In Congress, I will promote more domestic energy production from multiple sources to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and create jobs. Our nation's economic future -- and perhaps our very survival -- depends on a realistic strategy designed to ensure a sufficient and reliable supply of affordable energy well into the future. That means Congress must encourage development of proven domestic energy reserves to their greatest potential -- especially coal, our nation's most abundant energy resource.
The reason for this strategy is clear: Nations with the highest rates of energy consumption also enjoy the best human health statistics and the most robust economic growth. Conversely, the absence of reliable sources of energy is a major factor in the chronic poverty found in lesser developed nations.
With a struggling economy at home and an array of serious national security threats abroad, we have a moral duty to prioritize people and their livelihoods over the "green" fantasies of Washington bureaucrats. There is simply no excuse for continuing to jeopardize our national security by relying on foreign oil when we have access to our own ample domestic supply, which the Obama Administration keeps off limits for ideological reasons.
President Obama touts an "all of the above" energy strategy, but the reality reflects a far different picture. From day one, this Administration has pursued a radical agenda that combines an all-out war on fossil fuels with unrealistic expectations about the current viability of renewable energy sources. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has served as the vanguard of that war, routinely abusing its regulatory authority in a thinly disguised effort to put coal companies out of business and miners out of work.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has lavished millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies on his politically-connected donors while bestowing favorable treatment on renewable energy projects that lack the ability to meet today's energy needs. These policies have created massive job losses, skyrocketing gas prices, increased dependence on foreign energy, and boondoggles like Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar company that lost hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.
Ironically, through the same technological innovation that fuels enthusiasm about the future potential of renewable energy, we can begin to develop America's vast proven reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in an environmentally responsible manner today.
Ben Chandler: Obama's Foot Soldier in the War on Coal
The Obama Administration's war on coal extends from its imposition of permit requirements that are impossible for mining companies to meet to its issuance of emissions standards which, according to the Sierra Club, guarantee that "there will never be another coal plant built." A high ranking EPA official even suggested that the agency's goal is to "crucify" part of the fossil fuel industry.
These regulatory abuses have summarily ripped the rug from under hard-working Kentuckians and their families. An estimated 2,000 Eastern Kentucky coal miners have been laid off this year alone, with no relief in sight. There are at least 3,000 fewer coal miners in Kentucky now as there was in early 2009 when President Obama took office. To the extent they have any options at all, unemployed miners face the prospect of replacing incomes averaging $70,000 per year with jobs that barely pay above minimum wage. As President Obama put it, "We can't rely on fossil fuels from the last century." It appears his wish extends to those working in Kentucky's coal fields that depend on the jobs of today to feed their families, pay their mortgage, and send their kids to school.
Kentucky relies on its abundant native coal resources for 92.7% of its electricity, enabling Kentuckians to enjoy the lowest average electricity costs in the nation. Coal generates billions of dollars for our state's economy while providing hundreds of millions of dollars in coal severance taxes, which fund vital local services.
So, where has Kentucky's Sixth District Congressman been as a president whom he proudly endorsed lays waste to one of Kentucky's signature industries? Right by his side. Not content with merely being a guilty bystander, Ben Chandler has actively supported ruinous proposals such as "cap and trade," which would double energy costs for Kentucky families and small businesses while further endangering the tens of thousands of high-paying jobs which Kentucky coal supports.
Chandler also cosponsored legislation that would effectively ban all surface mining. He even publicly chided an Obama Administration official for not moving fast enough to block surface mining in Kentucky. Chandler has repeatedly opposed efforts to curb the EPA's regulatory abuses -- even voting against legislation designed to end federal meddling in the coal mine permitting process, so that the expertise of Kentucky's state-level environmental experts could receive the deference it deserves.
Coal puts food on the table of tens of thousands of Kentucky families, and it helps millions more make ends meet in a tough economy by keeping utility rates low. Tone-deaf to this reality, the Obama-Chandler energy agenda seeks to transform Kentuckians into guinea pigs for Washington bureaucrats and their theories on unproven and untested renewable energy schemes.
Natural Gas: Abundant Supply; Bright Prospects
According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Energy estimate, America's domestic supply of recoverable natural gas has expanded 134% due to a drilling technology that extracts natural gas from shale rock called "fracking." Due to its substantial reserves of natural gas, Kentucky is well positioned to enjoy the economic and energy security benefits from the current fracking boom -- if Washington would simply get out of the way.
The MIT Study on the Future of Natural Gas states that "[t]he environmental impacts of shale development are challenging but manageable . . . [t]he U.S. natural gas supply situation has enhanced the substitution possibilities for natural gas in the electricity, industry, buildings, and transportation sectors."
Together with coal gasification and other emerging clean fuel technologies, natural gas offers an economically viable and environmentally responsible source of domestic energy that could help supply America's needs for a century or more.
American Oil, American Energy, American Security
The United States possesses vast coastal reserves of oil and natural gas. Alaska's Arctic Wildlife National Refuge (ANWR), North Dakota's Bakkan Formation, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Outer Continental Shelf offer the potential for the dramatically expanded production of American oil. Yet, the Obama Administration and congressional Democrats like Ben Chandler repeatedly say "no" - even though the United States remains the only nation in the world that bans oil and gas exploration from most of its territorial waters and the proposed region for ANWR drilling constitutes just 3% of this vast wilderness.
Ben Chandler also voted -- three times -- against bipartisan legislation supporting the Keystone XL pipeline -- a seven billion dollar proposed investment that offered thousands of new jobs, millions in local tax revenue, much-needed energy infrastructure, over 100,000 barrels per day of oil from Montana and North Dakota, plus access to oil produced from Canada's extensive oil sands reserves.
Through his knee-jerk support of the Obama Administration's inexplicable decision to reject this pipeline, Ben Chandler says "no" to a reliable supply of oil from one of our closest friends and allies; no to a genuine "stimulus" project that would not cost taxpayers a dime; and "yes" to America's continued dependence on the unstable and dictatorial regimes of the Middle East and Venezuela.
In fact, the Administration's own experts at the Department of Energy have admitted that the Keystone XL pipeline would reduce reliance on imports from these adversaries by 40%. Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil remains one of the greatest long-term threats to our national security. We can begin solving this problem with common-sense solutions -- solutions which Ben Chandler regrettably opposes.
The Chinese Threat
The Obama-Chandler intransigence on the Keystone XL Pipeline has produced a troubling and potentially dangerous new development. Sensing a vacuum, China has offered to buy a major Canadian energy concern, effectively nominating itself as Canada's new energy partner, particularly in the area of oil sands development. If Canadian regulatory authorities approve this purchase, China will obtain a major stake in the future development of Canada's 180 billion barrels in proven oil reserves, plus access to additional oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
The lesson? Someone will develop these vast resources, even if we refuse. Meanwhile, the United States risks pulling defeat from the jaws of victory -- squandering a promising path to energy independence while inviting China to accelerate its growing influence in our hemisphere.
Andy Barr's Energy Plan: A Bridge to the Future
America needs a real "all of the above" energy strategy -- one that engages our domestic energy industries as partners instead of adversaries in an all-out effort to preserve and create jobs and establish American energy independence; one that sets a rational course toward sustainable and renewable energy by employing today's proven resources as a bridge to the technologies of the future.
As a Member of Congress, I will:
Fight for Kentucky Coal Jobs by
Vigorously opposing cap and trade;
Challenging the EPA's undue interference with mining permits, particularly its authority to apply "enhanced coordination procedures" and its conductivity guidance.
Working to enact the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act, which would restore state primacy in permitting under SMCRA while prohibiting arbitrary federal interference with state-approved permits and water quality standards.
Supporting the Energy Tax Prevention Act, which would block the EPA's implementation of greenhouse gas regulations under the Clean Air Act; and
Fighting the Obama Administration's implementation of the job-destroying Utility MACT Rule.
Advocate the Common-Sense Development of Oil and Natural Gas by
Supporting the Keystone XL Pipeline and reversing the Obama-Chandler decision to reject the jobs and reliable oil this project would produce;
Voting to ease federal restrictions on domestic oil and natural gas production, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); and
Working to enact common-sense legislation such as the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which requires the President to exhaust options for domestic oil production before withdrawing oil from our nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.