America can do ‘big things’ in energy

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.

In President Obama’s latest State of the Union Address, he proclaimed that in America, “We do big things.” Yet nothing about this administration’s energy policy (or lack thereof) is “big.” Squandering 30 million barrels of strategic oil that is supposed to be reserved for true emergencies isn’t “big.” This administration is a shrinking violet, afraid to embrace our vast energy resources, afraid to create jobs and afraid to confront unfriendly Middle Eastern countries with our own energy production.

A few weeks ago, President Obama conceded a significant policy position to those who’ve long argued for increasing American oil supply in order to lower prices at the pump. The Obama administration’s release of 30 million barrels of oil from America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to help lower gasoline prices confirms what Republicans have known all along: It’s all about supply and demand; hopefully that debate is now over.

Let’s be clear: Tapping the SPR was a shortsighted political reaction to a long-term policy problem for Democrats. Those Democrats who are hostile and opposed to American-made energy want to point fingers at sound-bite-friendly boogiemen while ignoring the real issue at hand: America is dependent on unstable foreign countries for oil and will continue to be until we develop more of our own resources.

Meanwhile, energy prices continue to fluctuate, spiking when there is unrest in the Middle East or when OPEC simply decides to cut supply. This erratic behavior caused gasoline prices to reach as high as $5 per gallon in some parts of the country only a few months ago. These price spikes hurt American families, cost jobs, devastate small businesses struggling to retain employees and significantly slow the recovery of the U.S. economy.

President Obama’s wrongheaded use of the SPR, which is intended for times of consequential and sudden shortages of oil, may yield short-term political points and a slight decrease in the price of gasoline, but it doesn’t address America’s long-term energy vulnerability. Only a few weeks after the announced SPR release, oil prices have bounced right back to where they were previously, the SPR contains 30 million fewer barrels of oil and there is no guarantee President Obama won’t further deplete the strategic reserve.

Instead of tapping the SPR, we should responsibly develop America’s vast energy reserves — much of which the Obama administration is keeping under lock and key. America’s onshore and offshore oil reserves equal 163 billion barrels. Combined with the estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil shale in Western states, America has significantly more oil than Saudi Arabia — currently the world’s biggest oil producer.

Yet, the Obama administration likes to feign interest in American energy production when politically convenient, otherwise forgetting the American energy workers who depend on a salary to support their families. For nearly a year, this administration refused to issue offshore permits in the Gulf of Mexico, putting thousands out of work and significantly decreasing American energy production. Under mounting pressure from rising gasoline prices, the administration reluctantly divvied out a handful of previously approved permits. Never mind that 12 rigs had already left the Gulf of Mexico for foreign waters, taking American jobs with them. Those rigs may never return.

  • CaptainAmerika

    Yes Doc, America can do big things with energy.
    This will never happen under your leadership. As an example; being anti-Obama does not not constitute a plan. All we have here is your typical spew about what the administration is not doing, and what they are doing wrong. This lacks specifics about exactly what direction your propose.
    Gas prices have recently gone down significantly. I am not going to claim that the release of some oil from the strategic reserve are the sole reason for the lower prices that we now enjoy at the pump. You are once again on the wrong side of the issue, against the American consumer, and in the pocket of that most corrupt American industry, BIG OIL.
    I know that the interests you represent cannot stand not having a lock on the crude supply. In this case the message to the speculators is that government will intervene to prevent your interests from damaging the consumers and economy any worse than you already have. We know you are determined to get as much of our resources on the world market and into China.
    In conclusion, as usual Doc, you are wrong. You are against the interests of the American people. The policies and corporations you represent continue to drag the economy down, resulting in a continued loss of jobs.
    You do not represent my interests in Washington. I am disgusted to have you as my representative.