Monday, May 1, 2017

One of the most commonly discussed themes I’ve heard during my time in Congress is the idea of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. This term is tossed around by Republicans and Democrats alike more than a baseball at a Diamondbacks game.

I suspect the reason why this continues to be such a frequent topic is because it polls well and a majority of Americans support such an approach. Yet, most people don’t know what a true “all-of-the-above” energy strategy actually entails.

Throughout his eight years in office, President Obama claimed to support an “all-of-the-above approach to American energy,” but this farce couldn’t be further from the truth. The Obama administration weaponized federal agencies in order to unilaterally enact countless rules and regulations that aimed to prevent American energy production. For example, President Obama’s Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s first formal action was to cancel 77 oil and gas leases in the state of Utah.

Western Energy Alliance reported that from 2008 to 2016, “every major indicator of oil and natural gas activity on federal lands [was] down.” On President Obama’s watch, the number of federal permits approved, acres leased and wells drilled all declined. The House Committee on Natural Resources reported in 2013 that it took the Obama administration “on average 30 percent longer, compared to the previous four years, to approve new drilling permits.”

The average time in 2005 under the Bush administration to approve permits to drill was 154 days compared to 307 days on average in 2011 for the Obama administration.

President Obama continuously tried to take credit for increasing private-sector energy production on state lands, but conveniently omitted the fact that his own administration was stifling production on federal lands.

One of the Obama administration’s final anti-energy acts was to propose a massive, 234,000-acre mineral withdrawal in the state of Minnesota. One company that has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars for development in the area said this misguided proposal “will have a devastating impact on the region’s economy, eliminating the promise of thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in local investment.”

Today, there is no region better suited to define an actual “all-of-the-above” energy strategy than the West.

As the chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I’d like to paint a picture of what it would look like if our country embraced all of our energy sources.

My home state of Arizona is consistently ranked as one of the top solar states in the country. However, too many federal regulatory hurdles prevent solar companies from taking full advantage of this abundant source. To address these issues, Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado Democrat, and I introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act. This bipartisan legislation streamlines the permitting process for wind, solar and geothermal energy projects on public lands, does not require federal subsidies, and creates a revenue source to assist local governments in their efforts to deliver critical services.

In Alaska, responsible oil exploration and production, in areas like the Outer Continental Shelf, supports nearly one-third of all Alaska jobs by creating a total of 110,000 jobs throughout the state. Despite the vast support from Alaska’s residents in favor of the critical role that oil and natural gas play in improving the quality of their lives, President Obama cancelled Arctic offshore lease sales through 2022.

A true “all-of-the-above” energy plan would make best use of the estimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the U.S. Arctic, and do so in an environmentally responsible way.

The Obama administration opposed natural gas exports for its first six years. While they came around a bit in late 2014, some liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects still took four years to get a permit — and others never received a decision. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently approved the Golden Pass LNG export terminal in Texas, a project estimated to create 45,000 new jobs in the next five years alone. An administration that embraces this resource will act on the nearly two dozen pending applications.

Federal agencies under the Obama administration took action to restrict the use of hydropower in order to appease extremist environmentalists that want to repopulate a fish that few people want. Members of the Western Caucus have continued to pursue opportunities to expand use of this clean, non-emitting energy source that reduces carbon emissions.

The Obama administration did everything in its power to impose wildly out-of-touch mandates in order to appease the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement.

The Western Caucus looks forward to working with the Trump administration to implement a true “all-of-the-above” American energy approach that embraces all American energy sources. Pursuing this strategy will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce our dependence on energy production from volatile foreign nations and foster significant economic growth.

Republican Rep. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S., represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, where he is chairman of the subcommittee on energy and minerals. He is also chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.