The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As rising gasoline prices threaten our nation's economic recovery, we welcome your acknowledgement of the positive impact which increased domestic supplies of oil and gas will have for American families and businesses. In your speech on March 30, you stated, "producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, create jobs, and enhance our energy security."
We agree, and we also share the goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. It is an achievable goal, as we know we have the resources to control our energy future. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service detailed our vast energy resources, showing America's recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined. America's combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth --and this is without including America's immense oil shale and methane hydrates deposits.
However, it is not just rhetoric that is keeping us from achieving the goals you outlined of lowering energy prices, creating jobs, and reducing our reliance on foreign energy. Rather, we are concerned that these goals are in direct conflict with certain ongoing actions of your Administration. In particular, the policies being carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) directly and negatively impact oil and gas production and prices, as well as electricity prices for businesses and consumers. These policies hang heavy over the economy, with the promise of making our existing energy resources more expensive for Americans, and serve to inhibit future growth.
With consumers again facing $4.00/gallon gasoline, the EPA is pursuing job-killing greenhouse gas regulations that, like the failed cap-and-trade legislation, will serve as an energy tax on every consumer. The Affordable Power Alliance recently studied the impacts of this action and found that the price of gasoline and electricity could increase as much as 50 percent. To make matters worse, the EPA acknowledges that unilateral action by the United States will have no impact on the world's climate, as China and India dramatically increase their emissions.
You also referenced efforts within the Administration to encourage domestic oil and gas production, yet since taking office, DOI has done exactly the opposite. In 2009, 77 oil and gas leases in Utah were cancelled, and the following year 61 additional leases were suspended in Montana. In December 2010, your Administration announced that its 2012-2017 lease plan would not include new areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic coast -- though these two areas hold commercial oil reserves of 28 billion barrels and up to 142 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Delaying access to these areas not only hinders the production of domestic energy, but also means the loss of up to $24 billion in federal revenue. In Alaska, the EPA has failed to issue valid air quality permits for offshore exploration after over 5 years of bureaucratic wrangling, although no human health risk is at issue and over 25 billion barrels of oil may be discovered. EPA has also contributed to the continuing delay of production from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska -- an area specifically designated by Congress for oil and gas development.
Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003. The Energy Information Administrator (EIA) Richard Newell recently pointed out that the 2010 production numbers are likely the result of new leases issued during the previous administration that are just recently beginning to produce oil. Unfortunately, in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore energy production is expected to decrease by 13 percent in 2011. This decrease is cited as the result of the moratorium and the slow pace of permitting. EIA's most recent short-term energy outlook projects that domestic crude oil and liquid fuels production is expected to fall by 110,000 bbl/d in 2011, and by a further 130,000 bbl/d in 2012. To date, only 8 deepwater permits have been issued during the past 12 months, and most of these operations were started before the Macondo well blowout.
At your State of the Union Address, you called for a review of job-killing regulations within your Administration. We believe the Administration hereby has the keys to unlock our domestic energy potential today. As this review is underway, and with recognition of the toll higher energy prices are taking on Americans, we respectfully encourage you to examine the damage these current policies are having on the economy, and to work to reconcile these contradictions.
John Cornyn, United States Senator
James Inhofe, United States Senator
David Vitter, United States Senator
John Thune, United States Seantor
Jim DeMint, United States Senator
Ron Johnson, United States Senator
Rand Paul, United States Senator
Kelly Ayotte, United States Senator
Jeff Sessions, United States Senator
James E. Risch, United States Senator
Thad Cochran, United States Senator
Richad Shelby, United States Senator
Orrin Hatch, United States Senator
Jon Kyl, United States Senator
Mark Kirk, United States Senator
Richard Burr, United States Senator
Jerry Moran, United States Senator
Lindsey Graham, United States Senator
John Boozman, United States Senator
John Barrasso, United States Senator
Kay Bailey Hutchison, United States Senator
Johnny Isakson, United States Senator
Pat Roberts, United States Senator
Saxby Chambliss, United States Senator
Marco Rubio, United States Senator
Roy Blunt, United States Senator
Roger Wicker, United States Senator
Mike Enzi, United States Senator