Experts, Small Business Owners: Obama Admin. Policies Responsible for Rising Gas Prices

At a hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy & Power today, experts and small business owners cited excessive government regulations and Obama administration roadblocks to American energy production as principle factors behind their struggle to cope with rising energy costs. The hearing was part of the coordinated Republican effort to hold the Obama administration to account for skyrocketing gas prices.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Despite ‘All-of-the-Above’ Rhetoric, Obama Administration Policies “Hinder” More American Energy Production “At Every Turn.”  Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said when it comes to President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy, “the administration is saying one thing, doing another” with policies “that hinder oil and natural gas at nearly every turn.”  As Gerard explained, “The administration says it is for more oil and gas, but rejects the Keystone XL pipeline. It says it is boosting domestic production onshore, but new leasing on federal lands is down 44 percent, and the number of new wells drilled is down 39 percent. It says it is opening offshore areas but the latest plan keeps 87 percent of these areas off limits. It says oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico is back to normal, but the latest forecast says production this year will be down nearly 21 percent from 2010.”  Chris Milburn, professional truck driver and owner of CarbM Trucking, said he finds “it difficult to understand why regulatory and other roadblocks remain to accessing these important American energy resources,” adding that the “OOIDA [Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association] supports actions taken by the House” to expand American energy production.  “This legislation represents a common-sense effort to knock down regulatory barriers preventing environmentally sound energy production in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Mountain West,” Milburn said.
  • “Barrage Of Unnecessary and Costly Regulation” Driving Up Gas Prices and Costing Jobs. According to Chris Milburn, “small business trucking has been assaulted by a barrage of unnecessary and costly regulation[s]” which “not only rob small business truckers of the ability to maintain and grow their business, but also decrease the incomes of hundreds of thousands of families around the country.”  Charles Drevna, President of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, cited a Department of Energy report issued last year that found excessive regulations were a “significant factor” in the “closure of 66 petroleum refineries in the United States in the past 20 years.”  As Drevna put it, “the size, scope, and cumulative burden of current and impending regulatory activity is creating both significant regulatory uncertainty and a slew of conflicting regulations that will impose significant burdens on domestic fuel manufacturers and eventually consumers.”
  • Approving Keystone XL Pipeline “Would Help Remove the Uncertainty About Future Supplies” Affecting Energy Prices. Charles Drevna said delays in the Obama administration’s energy permitting process are “adding enormously” to the cost of new projects, making it less likely that some may be built.”  Drevna referred specifically to the Keystone XL pipeline as “the most recent victim of regulatory delay” noting that it “has been studied by federal reviewers for more than three years” and is still “being required by President Obama to undergo yet further study.”  Drevna said “getting more U.S. and Canadian oil – along with oil from North Dakota and Montana – delivered to Gulf Coast refineries via Keystone XL … would help remove the uncertainty about future supplies that is a factor in the recent rise of oil prices.” John Eichberger, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), agreed, saying “improving access to Canadian crude oil products would help supplement overall supplies” and help address gas price spikes. 
  • Democrats’ Call to Release Energy from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve “Would Increase Market Uncertainty and Price Volatility.” Robert McNally, President of the Rapidan Group and an energy analyst with 21 years of experience, warned that “if the US tries to use strategic stocks to keep gasoline prices stable,” as Democrats have called for, “it is likely to end up with neither strategic stocks nor gasoline price stability.”  In fact, McNally said “frequent, capricious frittering away of strategic stocks in a futile attempt to influence global oil prices would increase market uncertainty and price volatility.

Under the American Energy Initiative, House Republicans have passed several bills that would eliminate the Obama administration’s barriers to American energy production, move the Keystone pipeline forward, and cut through the red tape that is driving up gas prices and other energy costs for American families and small businesses.  At a press conference yesterday, Speaker Boehner reiterated his hope that President Obama would follow through on positive discussions with Republican leaders and call on Senate Democrats to pass the nearly 30 bipartisan energy and jobs bills they continue stalling.  Learn more about the American Energy Initiative at facebook.com/americanenergy, and follow the progress of House-passed legislation to address rising gas prices and create a better environment for private-sector job growth at http://jobs.gop.gov.