Federal Government: The Barrier to Achieving Energy Independence for America!

by Richard H. Frank

Just how fragile is the American economy when it comes to our “non-existent energy policy?”  Every American is suddenly thrust into the politics of an unstable Mid-East as evidenced today by the unrest and potential revolution boiling over in Egypt.  Should the Suez Canal be embargoed or blockaded by militant factions in the Mid-East it would cut off the world supply of oil from Saudi Arabia.  The price of oil would skyrocket and impact every facet of the world’s economy.  $5 or more per gallon for gasoline and doubling the cost of home heating oil would surely cripple the United States.  Moreover, such actions would have the potential for lighting the fuse leading to conflict and the impetus for a Third World War.

Our Government over the past 40 years has chosen to bury their heads in the sand and refused to adopt a concise comprehensive energy policy for America.  Government has frittered away at least 30 years which could have been dedicated to becoming energy independent while providing freedom from the massive deficit our children and grandchildren face in the future.

Our Federal Government has instead erected barriers to exploration and development of our natural resources of fossil fuel in the name of “saving the planet” and punishing greedy energy producers.  Billions of dollars of American treasure are exported annually instead of invested in energy independence here in the United States of America.

Barack Obama’s statement in the State of the Union address, that green energy will provide 85% of the nation’s energy needs by 2035 is a pipe dream.  Today’s level of green technology produces less than 1% of the nation’s needs.  In order to achieve his projection, a breakthrough in technology heretofore unknown would be required. Assuming that breakthrough was on the horizon it would take more than 25 years to adapt that now mythical technology to meet our needs.

The Federal Government through the Department of Interior and other agencies such as the EPA and the Department of Energy have usurped the Authority of Congress to adopt a policy of energy independence and erected administrative barriers to circumvent the wishes of Congress, the courts and of “We the People.”

Federal regulations under the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of Interior, has jurisdiction over onshore leasing, exploration, development and production of oil and gas on Federal lands.  The BLM in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service and the GSA also share in authority over onshore gas and oil leasing. Authority for the BLM extends to all states east of the Mississippi River and sixteen states west of the Mississippi.

The Bureau of Land Management national regulations are contained in the Gold Book:  “Surface Operating Standards & Guidelines for Oil & Gas Exploration and Development.”  These regulations are comprised of numerous “forms” and “orders” that create barriers to exploration and development.

Today’s energy policies are drafted such that they represent a war on fossil fuel production.  Instead of establishing new Federal and state partnerships, with revenue-sharing models established that will create local support for environmentally sound energy exploration and production, our Federal Government has chosen to stifle domestic production in favor of imposition of taxes on these producers as a means to fund unknown alternatives.

In the interim, our dependence on imported oil has risen from 40% in the 1970s to more than 60% today. Government policies have put the most promising domestic oil and gas prospects off-limits to exploration and production through moratorium.

The Outer Continental shelf is an area of 1.76 billion acres submerged off the coasts of the United States and controlled by the Federal Government.  Today 97% of this area remains under moratorium preventing any exploration or production of oil or natural gas.

Through Government fiat we are prohibited from access to an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  In addition, it is estimated that 83% of Federal lands onshore contain 28 billion barrels of oil and 207 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

According to the DOE, the United States is sitting on coal reserves with energy value equivalent to 6 trillion barrels of oil.  Oil shale and heavy oil sands contribute an additional 2,154,000,000,000 equivalent barrels of oil to our domestic supply.  To put the enormity of our potential reserves in prospective, consider the fact that the United States has consumed a mere 197 billion barrels of U.S. oil since our first domestic well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859.

At the end of the first decade of the 21st Century we find ourselves in a similar situation to that of the oil embargo of the 1970s.  The past 40 years have been spent arguing about the evils of oil, fossil fuels and nuclear power generation.  The actions of our Federal and state governments have only served to enrich those Mid-East countries that do allow exploration and production at the expense of every American.  Economically, produced energy drives the engine of economic production and innovation here in the United States.  This is evidenced in the standard of living achieved in America during the 20th Century.  We need to create a domestic supply of economically-priced energy if we are to sustain and increase that standard of living for all Americans.  A new cohesive energy policy must be built on a foundation of domestic oil, fossil fuels and nuclear production to establish a bridge for achieving competitively-priced renewable energy sources.  Our Federal Government seems to have disregarded the history of the 20th Century and the part fossil fuels played in building the most prosperous, powerful nation in the World.

Our Government policy should be “drill here, drill now,” build nuclear power plants, open Anwar to exploration and production and use revenues generated to support wind and solar development.

We must start now and stop political arguing and turn the implementation of the new policy over to free market entrepreneurs.  Contrary to our President’s belief, NASA did not put us on the moon; free enterprise innovation and production did.  No politician and their political rhetoric ever produced anything but hot air.

The time has come to seriously pursue energy independence and not waste another 40 years which could have seen us independent today if it were not for Government interference!

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