Shovel-Ready Solutions, Not Silver Bullets

21 March 2012   Senator Jon Kyl
When President Obama took office, a gallon of gas cost $1.85.

Today, the national average is $3.84 per gallon – more than double what it cost before his inauguration.

Speaking to the issue in a recent radio address, the president said: “We know there’s no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight. But what we can do is get our priorities straight and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem.”

With that in mind, what should our priorities be?

First, it is important to understand that the laws of supply and demand apply. China, India, and other countries have all increased the global demand for oil, so prices have gone up. Adding more supply would help to bring prices down. But rather than increasing domestic production to lower energy costs, the Obama Administration has repeatedly worked to shut down energy projects and raise costs on consumers.

For instance, oil production has plunged by 14 percent on federal lands. While the president is quick to note that the United States only has 2 percent of the world’s oil, that is only so because 97 percent of federal lands have been placed off limits as a result of his policies (in truth, we likely have a far greater share). Opening up federal lands – including those in Alaska and on the outer continental shelf – to oil exploration would lower prices.

Second, we could stop imposing more taxes and regulatory burdens on oil producers (the costs of which are passed down to consumers). But President Obama has proposed new taxes on energy-producing companies of up to $80 billion, and new EPA regulations recently forced three major refineries that account for more than 50 percent of the East Coast refining capacity to close in yet another blow to domestic oil production.

Third, we could end Obama Administration policies that devalue the dollar, with the result that it now takes more dollars to buy the same amount of gas at the pump. This weaker dollar has resulted in a 25-percent spike in the price of gas since mid-December alone.

Fourth, we could authorize the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the United States, thus reducing our dependence on Middle East oil. But, recently, the president lobbied Democrats in Congress to prevent the Senate from approving the Keystone pipeline. If constructed, this pipeline could transport about 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries in the United States. According to the nonpartisan Energy Policy Research Foundation, Keystone could provide a boost to our economy of up to $600 million per year while creating 20,000 U.S. jobs – all at no cost to taxpayers. Yet, by successfully prodding his party to reject this shovel-ready project, the president has not only thrown away thousands of desperately needed jobs, but also once again rejected an opportunity to increase the supply of North American energy.

These should be our priorities.

Instead, the president says there’s not much he can do. It’s time for the administration to abandon its failed policies and embrace an approach that increases energy supply and lowers costs for consumers.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at http://kyl.senate.gov/or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.