A couple of weeks ago, President Obama stood among stacks of green oil pipe for an 11-minute photo op and claimed credit for a thriving domestic energy industry. Six hours later, the president spoke in Ohio and blasted oil and gas as “the energy of the past” and claimed we “can't simply drill our way out of the problem.” It may be politically beneficial to praise oil and gas in Oklahoma and then attack it in Ohio, but it doesn't help our nation become energy independent.
The president repeatedly states that America “only has 2 percent of the world's known oil reserves.” It is a carefully worded phrase to give the impression that we are incapable of meeting our own energy needs. The reality is the United States is the third-largest producer of oil in the world. During the fourth quarter of 2011, America produced 58 percent of all the oil we consumed. We imported an additional 21 percent of oil from Canada and Mexico, which means 79 percent of our oil consumption came from North America. If we increase our drilling and international pipeline capacity by only 21 percent, we can finally be free of Middle East oil and the wild price swings that come with that dependence.
After his inauguration, one of the president's first actions was to cancel oil leases on federal lands and delay offshore leasing, even before the BP spill. The Keystone pipeline has been delayed 44 months; the previous international pipeline was permitted in 24 months. While this president claims credit for increased drilling, those permits were actually approved under President George W. Bush, and new drilling permits are down 36 percent. In testimony before Congress in March, Energy Secretary Steven Chu could not name any action that this administration has taken to increase oil and gas production.
On Wednesday, I spent several hours at three gas stations around Oklahoma City talking to Oklahomans filling up their gas tanks. When I asked what they would do to bring down the price of gas, the vast majority of people said they would drill for more oil in America and stop buying oil from overseas. They also wanted to know when they could buy a car that runs on CNG so they can have less-expensive options for fuel. Oklahomans understand this issue so much better than Washington.
The current policy of focusing on the “energy of the future” while punishing the energy of the present is hurting American jobs and our energy independence. Most of all, people who live paycheck to paycheck are hit hard by higher energy prices. Oklahomans have no issue with new energy resources. We have led the nation in wind and biofuel research. But, when an “energy proposal for the future” economically devastates our neighbors today, we have to speak out.
The president's two-step plan for energy seems to be perfectly illustrated by his Oklahoma speech in front of a stack of green empty oil pipe: (1) Green (2) Empty Oil Pipe.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, represents Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District.