Energy is vital to every aspect of American life. It is used in our homes, schools, businesses, and industries. Working families, retirees, and businesses large and small across the nation are all dependent upon reliable and affordable energy. A major way to improve reliability and affordability is to produce more energy here at home. A responsible, all-of-the-above energy policy would help to power economic growth and encourage job creation. This includes increasing North American energy production and utilizing our vast federal resources.
Without access to affordable and abundant domestic energy resources, our economy is dependent upon foreign sources of energy -- much of this in the form of oil from less than friendly nations. While energy production on state and private lands has increased in the United States, we have seen a decline in federal oil and natural gas production since President Obama took office. In fact, since 2009 total federal oil production has decreased by 7.8 percent and total federal natural gas production has declined by 21 percent.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with my support, H.R. 1965, the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act. This bipartisan bill protects and expands onshore American energy production and reduces government red-tape and regulations. H.R. 1965 reforms the federal leasing and permitting process for onshore oil and natural gas projects to help remove unnecessary delays blocking development and job creation.
The legislation passed by the House is a good start, but there is more we can do to maximize North American energy production and move forward with an all-of-the-above energy policy.
I support construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would guarantee thousands of American jobs and move up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. However, the construction permit application has languished for more than five years. The federal government should also allow for the exploration of natural gas and crude oil in Virginia's waters off the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and move forward with this lease sale, which has been delayed by the Obama Administration. Instead of more red tape and federally induced barriers, the Administration should promptly act on these important energy producing projects.
A sound all-of-the-above energy policy that encourages exploration, innovation, and conservation is key to a strong economy. I will continue to support legislation that cuts through the red tape that is holding energy production back, puts us on a clear path to energy independence, and powers our economy for the future.