Letter to President Obama


By:  David Vitter
Date: Dec. 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider the administration's campaign against hydraulic fracturing, "fracking." Vitter highlights that the United Kingdom recently allowed fracking on Britain's lands.

"The President and his administration have been trying to cripple fracking in the United States, even though fracking has been one of the only bright spots in our economy," Vitter said. "I'm asking the President to keep his eyes open to what works and what other nation's mistakes we can learn from. The UK has obviously recognized the positive economic benefits of fracking."

A copy of Vitter's letter is below.

December 17, 2012

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I write this letter in hopes of making you aware of an important development in the United Kingdom (UK). Just last week, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Energy Secretary Edward Davey, announced that the UK would allow hydraulic fracturing "fracking" to occur on Britain's lands. I believe this has a direct correlation to what has happened to the price of energy and European economies in recent years.

After a long period of central planning UK's energy policy, policies that are projected to increase the cost of energy on citizens by as much as 60 percent over the next ten years, the UK has found that their shale resources are far more vast than originally thought. The move to allow fracking in the UK comes less than a month after UK's energy minister, John Hayes exclaimed "enough is enough" regarding their current energy policy. He said he was ordering new analysis on the impact of their energy mandates -- particularly mandates on alternative sources such as wind -- and that they could no longer afford to rely on "faith based on some academic perspective."

No doubt the UK's politicians will face challenges similar to what we face here in the United States. There is a broad spectrum of people who make false claims about the environmental dangers and economics of fracking (the best example of course being the Range Resources-EPA fiasco in Texas). Fortunately, despite dismal economic numbers, over the last several years there's been one positive sector for jobs in the United States. Oil and natural gas production has created a renaissance in manufacturing for America, and is a direct result of fracking technologies advancement on private and state owned lands, which is made possible by our abundant domestic resources.

I would also note that just last month Norway put on hold the development of its first planned offshore wind farm due to lack of political support. This does not surprise me, as forcing an expensive and unpredictable form of energy on taxpayers should be eschewed at all costs. However, despite the reality of the cost of offshore wind energy, a product that relies heavily on government support and mandates, Secretary Chu announced last week (about the same time the UK decided to allow fracking) that seven offshore wind projects off six states will receive up to $4 million in taxpayer funding. In addition, three of those projects could receive up to an additional $47 million each over four years. This totals more than $150 million of taxpayer funding at a time when we are desperately looking for spending cuts.

If two advocates for offshore wind energy are re-evaluating their stance, then perhaps it is a sign to reconsider taxpayer funded initiatives for these types of projects. As well, Secretary Salazar has indicated that he plans on charging a royalty rate on offshore wind that is only a fraction of the rate oil and gas companies pay, and in fact is roughly one-fifth the value of the wind production tax credit (PTC). In other words, if the wind PTC were to be renewed, these offshore wind projects have the potential to receive five times the amount of money in taxpayer subsidies then they would actually pay in royalties.

As numerous members of your cabinet and administration look to frustrate and perhaps cripple fracking in the United States, I ask that you take a serious look at the decision the UK made last week to allow fracking. In fact, an analysis of what the unemployment rate in this country would have been over the last four years without fracking is perhaps overdue

I believe this is an important lesson, and a snapshot of how your current energy policies could further frustrate economic recovery. The implications of a failing energy policy choreographed by central planning rather than free markets puts the country's fiscal integrity at risk, and drives up energy costs on individuals who can least afford them. I obviously support the ingenuity of American's working to create energy sources, but let us keep our eyes open to what works, and what other nation's mistakes we can learn from.


David Vitter
United States Senate

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