Pete DuPont: An Energy Strategy That Makes Sense

By July 30, 2007Energy

Congress is heading in the wrong direction on energy, former Delaware Governor Pete DuPont observes in today’s Opinionjournal.com, offering a cogent summary of energy policy is off the tracks. The United States needs to be able to build oil refineries, make use of coal, and expand nuclear power, he argues. And stop restricting access to our domestic energy supplies!

The U.S. has substantial supplies of oil and gas that could be accessed if lawmakers would allow it, but they frequently don’t. A National Petroleum Council study released last week reports that 40 billion barrels of America’s “recoverable oil reserves are off limits or are subject to significant lease restrictions”–half inshore and half offshore–and similar restrictions apply to more than 250 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. (We consume about 22 trillion cubic feet a year.)

Access to the 10 billion barrels of oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve has been prohibited for decades. Some 85 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exist on the Outer Continental Shelf, but a month ago the House again, as it did last year, voted down an amendment that would have allowed the expansion of coastal drilling for oil and natural gas. All of which leaves the U.S. as the only nation in the world that has forbidden access to significant sources of domestic energy supplies.

Then the Senate voted in June to mandate a reduction in projected future oil usage of 10 million barrels a day, or 35%, which, since our domestic oil production is declining, means less imports. In other words, Congress wants to block drilling for more American oil while at the same time blocking the importation of oil — not a rational energy policy.

Which drives home his point that any “energy crisis” is more a crisis of politics.

DuPont is chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the National Petroleum Council’s report he cites is available here.

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