U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. — “Today, the President will visit Cushing, Oklahoma – home of the largest oil storage facility in the world – to tout his administration’s energy policy. While I am always happy to welcome any president to Oklahoma, taxpayers should understand that the Obama administration has been hostile to the very sector of the economy he wants to take credit for supporting.
“In Oklahoma, we have a phrase to describe the president’s position: ‘All hat, no cattle.’ The president offers big talk on domestic energy production but has offered little action to back up his claims.
“In word and deed, this administration has consistently expressed an illogical and ideological hostility to oil and gas. President Obama has even called oil the ‘fuel of the past’ even though government experts recognize our nation will rely on fossil fuels for nearly 70 percent of our energy needs through 2035. For better or worse, oil and gas are the fuel of the present. Oklahomans, in particular, understand that the Cushing facility is part of our future, not our past.
“Oklahomans also understand that the United States may be the only nation in the world today that could be energy independent but isn’t because of its own government. The president will, of course, claim that oil production is increasing. This is true but misleading. Production has increased on privately owned lands while declining on lands managed by the federal government. In other words, production has increased in spite of this administration’s policies and because of decisions made by previous administrations – both Republican and Democrat.
“Even as gas prices are skyrocketing, the administration has opposed efforts to use our own domestic fossil fuel resources to boost supply. The administration’s onshore mineral leasing policies, offshore leasing plans and permitting delays are all moving us in the wrong direction. For example, the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off our shores contains 1.76 billion acres of water, of which only 38 million acres – or two percent of the available acres – are leased to energy companies. In the Gulf of Mexico, production decreased 17 percent in 2011.
“Ironically, the federal government has provided financing for other countries, such as Brazil, to develop offshore resources while restricting U.S. companies to do the same here.
“At the same time, oil production on public land holdings declined by 14 percent last year, while natural gas production on federal lands and waters declined by 11 percent. Finally, since 1984, three of the four years that saw the fewest number of federal oil and gas leases occurred between 2009 and 2011.
“This trend is in sharp contrast to the activity occurring on private lands. For example, since 2005 oil production in North Dakota has been growing at a rate of 26 percent a year and their economy is booming.
“These facts matter because every dollar not spent on American energy is a dollar sent overseas to buy foreign energy. Two-thirds of our trade deficit is the result of our own government’s ludicrous policy of shipping American wealth and energy overseas. Plus, even if the global warming alarmists are correct about the peril of carbon, there is no reason why we should burn Saudi and Iranian carbon when we have our own reserves.
“The good news is the president can take many, many steps today, such as approving the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will stretch from Canada to Cushing. This vital step will improve access to our own vast reserves in North Dakota and Montana and will help create jobs, grow our economy and foster the very environment for innovation that is a prerequisite for developing alternative energy sources. Expediting the southern section of Keystone is an empty political gesture that does not require special presidential intervention. Unfortunately, the president still opposes the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline and seems content with watching Canada build a pipeline toward the Pacific and China.
“The American people want action, not rhetoric. I hope the president will use his trip to campaign for America’s future, not his future, and rethink his hostility to oil and gas resources.”