Opinion

Egyptian political unrest highlights need for more American energy production

Photo of Rep. Doc Hastings
Rep. Doc Hastings
Chairman, House Committee on Natural Resources
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      Rep. Doc Hastings

      Doc Hastings first joined the U.S. House of Representativesin 1994, serving Washington's 4th Congressional District.

      At the start of the 111th Congress, Mr. Hastings was selected by his colleagues to serve as the top Republican on the House Committee on Natural Resources. This new position highlighted his solid legislative experience and a strong work ethic, coupled with the desire to bring the common sense traditional values of Central Washington back to Washington, D.C.

      As Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Hastings' top priorities are reducing spending, creating American jobs, and ensuring thoughtful oversight of the Obama Administration's policies and decisions. As a native westerner, Chairman Hastings has an acute knowledge and understanding of the diverse issues under the Committee's jurisdiction.

      Specifically, Chairman Hastings' interests include increasing American energy production, ensuring U.S. offshore drilling is the safest in the world, guaranteeing access to public lands for recreation and job creation, effective management of our nation's oceans, and fighting for water rights in the West. Under Chairman Hastings' leadership, the Committee is dedicated to pursuing policies that both strengthen our economy and protect our nation's treasured lands, oceans and wildlife.

      Before coming to Congress, Chairman Hastings served in the Washington State Legislature and ran his family's small business, Columbia Basin Paper and Supply and established himself as a leader in the local business community. Chairman Hastings and his wife, Claire, live in Pasco, Washington. They have three children and eight grandchildren.

Last week, the price of oil broke $100 a barrel for the first time since 2008, due in part to the political unrest in Egypt. As gasoline prices rise, Americans are reminded that the consequences of this unrest are not confined to Egypt. The impacts will be felt in our country as well.

The volatility in the Middle East is a stark reminder that our economy and national security are linked to unstable regions of the world and will continue to be as long as the United States remains dependent on foreign energy. America can no longer afford to overlook the national security implications that come from not developing our energy resources here at home. Adopting a true all-of-the-above energy approach will lead us to greater energy independence and a stronger economy.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Egypt exports approximately 10,000 barrels of oil a day to the U.S. — only a fraction of total U.S. imports. However, the potential shutdown of the Egyptian-controlled Suez Canal and pipeline, which transfers four million barrels of oil and petroleum products a day, could have dramatic impacts on our economy and the price of oil. More ominously, the potential economic impacts could increase if the events in Egypt spread to other Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Libya, which control a significant share of the world’s oil supply.

There is no reason to continue our dangerous dependence on foreign oil when we can develop and produce our own resources. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is choosing to restrict access to America’s resources and deepen our dependence on foreign sources. The U.S. has abundant oil and natural gas reserves, both onshore and offshore, that the administration is keeping under lock and key.

At virtually every opportunity, this administration has slow-walked American energy production. It has withdrawn oil and gas leases in the intermountain West, imposed a real and now de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, placed huge portions of the Outer Continental Shelf off-limits to new offshore drilling, and proposed billions in higher taxes on American energy.

There need to be smart, effective reforms to ensure that U.S. offshore drilling is the safest in the world. But shutting down energy production here in the U.S. only leaves us at the mercy of unstable and hostile foreign countries.

Just over two years ago, when gasoline prices skyrocketed to over four dollars a gallon, the American people responded by demanding increased American energy production. Congress and President Bush heard the message loud and clear, lifting both the congressional and presidential moratoria on offshore drilling. But this progress came to a screeching halt when President Obama took office. The American people should not have to wait for the Obama administration to decide if four-dollar-per-gallon gasoline is expensive enough to act.

High gasoline prices hurt American families and businesses. The Associated Press recently reported that for every penny the price of gas goes up, it costs consumers overall an additional $4 million. And that happens every day there is a price increase. This means that even a small price hike can have a dramatic impact on our economy. This is the last thing we can afford when our nation is already coping with near-double-digit unemployment.

There are those who argue that we can’t drill our way out of this problem. I whole-heartedly agree that drilling is not the only answer and that we need to develop a robust all-of-the-above energy program that includes the development of alternative energy sources such as nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar.

  • David Holt

    The recent political instability in Egypt has put the focus back on energy independence and the importance of a reliable energy supply. A key step in achieving this goal is the expansion of the Keystone Pipeline System (Keystone XL). This pipeline – which would transport crude oil from our neighbor Canada to the Gulf Coast – will provide significant energy resources to American consumers. Using resources from Canada, one of our country’s strongest and most stable allies, it will reduce our dependence on oil from regions of the world that are susceptible to political turmoil, like the Middle East. The Department of Energy has found that this project will essentially eliminate the need to import oil from overseas. Not only will Keystone XL provide Americans with greater energy security and bring down the price of gasoline and diesel prices, but it will also be an economic stimulus. The project is expected to create 20,000 jobs. Stable energy prices also benefit American consumers and businesses by bringing down the price of other goods and services. The project’s environmental opponents argue that pipeline will increase greenhouse gas emissions. However, blocking the pipeline will not stop the development of Canadian oil sands. Instead, the oil will be sold overseas to other markets. The Consumer Energy Alliance supports the development of Keystone XL because it is part of a comprehensive approach to providing greater energy security for Americans. Visit us at http://www.consumerenergyalliance.org

  • You Are Wrong Again

    This author does not understand basic economics. Oil is a fungible internationally produced commodity. If there is a war in the Middle East, supply decreases which raises oil prices around the world. The impact of a decrease in such a commodity is not local, it is international. It does not matter, at all, if the US “produces enough oil for itself.” But what does that phrase even mean? Quantity demanded is determined by price, even for relatively inelestic goods. There is no such thing as need in economics because what we want and can consume depends on what’s available and the market adjusts.

    All you have to look at is UK, Canada, and Norway. They are “energy independent” but are effected by price changes in oil just the same as the rest of the world. All this Rep wants is a large and expensive government program that won’t work.

    • krjohnson

      Mr. Hastings is my Rep. I don’t think he’s in favor of a large and expensive government program, subsidies and such. But yes, you are completely correct on the economics of it.

      The thing is, when we have these stupid government policies that get in the way of supply (as he describes in the article) we do end up paying a little more for oil, really the world does, because of shipping and such. More importantly, we are denying profits here and instead shoveling our money off to Saudi Arabia. We need to export, not import. That doesn’t mean we should pay $4 a gallon to get our energy from South Dakota when we could get it from Saudi Arabia for $3 a gallon, but we need to make sure that if we can get it for $2.99 here we aren’t blocking energy companies from doing that. We need to open up these leases and stop the offshore drilling bans.

      And you have to concede that it is vital to have some energy supply at home in case of war. We don’t want to end up like the Germans did in WWII, without gas for our tanks. It may not be necessary to be “energy independent” but for national security reasons we should make sure and have a healthy domestic energy supply.

  • Drahcir

    All becouse some political idiot doesn’t want the US to receive the oil within it’s own lands.He is unswerving in his health reform(as in England and Canada).But why don’t he look to Canada about oil? They get all they can and Export the excess, sounds intreging doesn’t it.No more at the wims of OPEC.This is what I would love to see us at.

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