Our offshore energy resources should be the real strategic petroleum reserve. But less than 3 percent of offshore areas are currently leased for for energy production. As gas prices continue to climb, the Obama administration claims its hands are tied and there’s no immediate relief for Americans. Yet behind closed doors, Obama is considering a political band-aid with a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). This is not strategic and would represent an abuse of the SPR for political gain, as was the case this past summer when Obama pointed blame at Libya for the limp economy and released 30 million barrels of oil from the SPR. But what would a real strategy that benefits the country and hard-working Americans look like?
If President Obama is serious about bringing down gas prices and setting a course for an affordable energy future, he will lead the effort to tear down government barriers to our vast, yet untapped natural resources. But in area after area, this administration has worked to increase the price of energy and reduce access to domestic energy resources. Fortunately, strong leaders representing Gulf Coast communities are pushing back against the administration’s anti-energy agenda.
Just yesterday, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) blasted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at a hearing, citing the Obama administration’s abysmal record granting drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico. The administration claims that the President’s policies have opened new areas for drilling in the Gulf, but Senator Landrieu reminded Salazar that the biggest gulf in this administration’s record is the one that exists between rhetoric and reality. Indeed, it seems that the President’s strategy is to offer warm words to the American public and domestic oil and gas producers, while simultaneously regulators at the EPA and Department of Interior limit real access and production. The fact that a meager 3 percent of federal lands are currently leased for energy production mitigates any claim that the administration has about a pro-energy plan.
We have incredible resources here at home, as documented by IER’s North American Energy Inventory. A real strategic solution to America’s energy woes would be a flood of drilling permits for federally owned lands — both onshore and offshore — not a dribble of oil from the SPR.
This post was written by Johnny Russell.