Long-term guidelines to ensure US energy security

By Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association

The Obama Administration and numerous Congressional Democrats are pondering the idea of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat current rising energy prices. While the Administration enters a legal battle to defend its self-imposed deepwater drilling moratorium, the idea of tapping our strategic petroleum reserve is just another shortsighted measure that will continue and exacerbate our nation’s looming energy crisis.

The idea of tapping the 727-milion barrel stockpile will only serve as a short-term response and simply ignores the implications of our country’s failed energy policies. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve was established to provide relief in case of any temporary disruption in oil supply, like natural disasters, hurricanes, or a blockade of oil imports from other nations. Releasing our reserves to combat a problem that reaches far beyond sudden disruptions is a policy decision that flies in the face of reason.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a recent press conference that while opening the reserve is being considered, such a decision would be based on the possibility of a “major disruption” of oil production. A fair question for the President’s head spokesman would be, “Would the self-imposed federal drilling moratorium serve as a major disruption in oil production?” Or better yet, “Does cutting access to 99% of our nation’s energy resources serve as a future disruption in oil production?”

Similar to 2008, consumers across America are now experiencing spiking oil and gasoline prices. It’s estimated that by the summer driving season, Americans will be paying around $4.00 per gallon of gasoline. The idea of releasing oil from the Strategic Reserve does little or nothing to address a larger issue: our addiction to volatile oil markets.

Turmoil in the Middle East, Wall Street speculators, and the federal drilling moratorium have certainly impacted the rise in oil and gasoline costs, however, the underlying issue is that many of our leaders have consistently worked to block home-grown energy.

While consumers feel the pain at the pump, policy makers in Washington are scrambling to figure out an answer to solve the issue.

As an aid to assist in their decision-making, here are a few long-term and rational options that will increase domestic production, stabilize fluctuating energy costs, provide millions of jobs, and ensure our nation’s energy future:

Provide a streamlined permitting process to break the de facto moratorium on deepwater and shallow water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The current de facto moratorium has curtailed U.S. oil production by approximately 300,000 barrels of oil per day. 

Permit companies to lease, explore, and develop all of our nation’s offshore oil & gas resources. 

Open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) which contains billion and billions of barrels of recoverable oil. 

Allow for leasing and development of all onshore BLM federal lands. 

Promote and incentivize the use of natural gas for power generation and vehicle energy consumption. 

Increasing the demand for and competition of low priced natural gas will eventually stabilize rising oil prices. 

Make certain that independent oil & gas producers retain the essential federal tax breaks and incentives that ensure American consumers pay lower costs for energy.

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