Energy powers our economy. From manufacturing lines and fuel in gas tanks to the lights in your home, we all rely on energy. When gas prices increase and electricity bills soar, American families and businesses feel the pinch. Every day, folks across the Commonwealth and the nation are confronted with the rising cost of energy and they understand that a major component in lowering these energy costs is to produce more energy here at home.
However, there are many federal barriers standing in the way of realizing our true American energy potential. Currently, 85 percent of offshore areas have been blocked for new drilling and energy exploration by the Obama Administration. Last year, the president implemented a five year plan that placed the entire Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, as well as part of Alaska, off limits. The Virginia lease sale, which is supported by Virginians of both political parties, was once again delayed until 2017. Production offshore of Virginia could create nearly 2,000 jobs, and estimates of recoverable resources range from 130 to 750 million barrels of oil and 1.3 to 6.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Instead of locking away potential energy supplies - stifling job creation and hiking energy prices - the House of Representatives is working to promote real energy solutions by encouraging job creation, keeping energy costs affordable, and leading the United States towards energy independence.
Last week, the House passed, with my support, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. This legislation would expand U.S. offshore energy production to areas with the most oil and natural gas resources, including Virginia, and could result in the creation of more than 1 million new jobs. New offshore production would help the federal government pay down the national debt, strengthen our economy, and keep energy prices low for Americans. The bill also establishes a fair revenue sharing program for coastal states and makes reforms to ensure that production is safe and efficient.
The House also passed the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act, which would open up new oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. The legislation enacts the terms of an agreement signed by the Administration and governs how to expand and develop production along the maritime border in the Gulf. It is estimated this would generate tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for the United States.
In many areas, the Obama Administration's track record on energy issues gets a failing grade. Instead of waging a war on coal and jobs, imposing new regulations on American businesses, blocking approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and investing in failed energy companies, like Solyndra, the Administration should focus on harnessing all of our domestic resources. This is the path to energy independence and a true all-of-the-above energy policy. I urge the Administration to join the House in supporting these commonsense policies and allowing the U.S. to tap into our domestic energy resources to power a 21st century economy.