It’s time for real ‘energy action’

George Allen | Former US Senator

Two months ago, President Obama announced his latest stimulus proposal, which is a continuation of the same failed policies we’ve seen over the last three years — higher taxes to fund more costly government spending programs.

Absent from the president’s rhetoric was any mention of unleashing America’s energy resources, a proven way to create more than a million new, good-paying jobs here in the USA.

Virginia and the nation deserve better. With 9.1 percent unemployment and more than 14 million Americans looking for work, it is time for this administration to start viewing America’s energy resources as a blessing, not a curse.

One of the major components of my comprehensive, pro-growth plan for jobs — “The Blueprint for America’s Comeback” — is the aggressive pursuit of energy freedom by opening up access to America’s plentiful energy resources and taking control of our own energy destiny.

Fortunately, an opportunity exists for the president to take real action right now to strengthen America’s energy security and create jobs.

Earlier this month, I joined Governor Bob McDonnell and leaders from across Virginia in urging the Obama administration to approve the construction of an advanced pipeline linking Canada and the United States.

The Keystone XL Project will bring more than 700,000 additional barrels of domestic and Canadian oil each day to refineries in Texas. Construction alone will mean jobs for as many as 20,000 Americans, and related economic activity is projected to bring around 100,000 additional hires. Property tax revenues in states through which the pipeline passes could exceed $5 billion, meaning more resources for schools, roads and public safety. And the energy flowing through the pipeline will be from our closest neighbor and ally, not from an unstable and unfriendly foreign regime.

With so much to gain, why is the White House delaying? The Obama administration has yet to approve the permit needed for construction to begin. Bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, D.C. are standing in the way of a project that would create thousands of new jobs, increase our long-term supply of affordable energy and generate revenues without raising taxes.

When it comes to energy, this is just the latest contradiction between the president’s words and his actions. Since 2008, President Obama has touted the job-creating promise of his energy agenda. Instead, we see misused taxpayer funds for unreliable, expensive energy schemes; higher fuel prices; blocked energy development of American coal, oil and natural gas resources; and continued high unemployment over 9 percent.

The good news is that America has the most plentiful energy resources of any country in the world. Our reserves and recoverable oil, natural gas and coal exceed the resources of such energy giants as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Despite this bounty, our dependence on foreign oil is greater today than it was in the days of President Jimmy Carter’s gas lines. Federal bureaucrats continue to hold America’s energy resources “off limits,” and promising ventures like the Keystone pipeline are stopped at the Canadian border.

This is more than a policy dispute — it is a painful reality all across Virginia and the nation. Energy prices have soared, and gasoline prices remain almost double what they were when President Obama came into office. This has created real hardships for Virginia families and businesses that can do little but watch transportation, food and just about everything else rise in cost.

There are better ways, and the Keystone Pipeline is a timely example of it. As I detail in my “Blueprint for America’s Comeback,” the way forward involves not the type of obstruction that President Obama and Chairman Kaine support but common-sense actions that will unleash America’s energy resources and creativity. Here are just a few examples:

Remove the Obama administration’s barriers to producing energy from American resources. By more fully utilizing and developing the vast resources that exist throughout America, we can supplant imports with more of our own energy. This common-sense action will strengthen our national security, create new good-paying jobs, keep our money here in the USA and add revenues to our treasury without even once raising taxes. As many as a million long-term, good-paying jobs could be created by opening offshore areas currently designated off-limits by this administration or facing indefinite bureaucratic delays. If the people of Virginia want to explore for oil and natural gas off our coast, the federal government shouldn’t be allowed to stand in our way.

Support onshore development of innovative energy resources. Shale natural gas and coal-bed fuels are just two of the many unconventional sources of energy that new technologies are helping to discover. American clean coal technology can provide our homes and businesses with affordable, reliable electricity. If we harness America’s ingenuity, these resources can be converted into clean and accessible sources of American — not foreign — energy.

Make the federal government itself more energy-efficient. Believe it or not, the federal government is America’s single largest user of energy, spending over $7 billion a year on energy to operate federal buildings. As a nation, we should embrace conservation, innovation, teleworking and more efficient equipment and building designs. And the federal government is an excellent place to start. Integrating new energy technology where it makes sense would save electricity and fuel, lower costs for families and businesses and decrease demand for energy over the long term.

These ideas represent real “energy action.” Granted, they require a wholesale change in this obstructionist administration’s thinking, but that change can begin with a single, immediate step.

Let’s start using all of our energy resources and opportunities to create jobs, make our country safer, keep money here in the USA and lower the cost of energy for all Americans.

George Allen is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Virginia, where he was formerly governor and U.S. senator.

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