Hastings: Four-Dollar Gasoline Doesn’t Have to be Our Reality
Republican Plan Will Help Ease the Pain at the Pump for American Families & Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2014 - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) delivered the following floor statement today in support of H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act.

Mr. Chairman –

Americans are all too familiar with the economic hardships caused by four-dollar gasoline prices. I routinely hear from families in my Central Washington district whose budgets are already being stretched thin and can’t afford the rising prices at the pump. Commuting to work, running the kids to after school activities, and putting food on the table are all becoming increasingly difficult to afford.

The pain is not only being felt during our trips to the gas station - high gasoline prices are a drain on our entire economy. That means that school districts juggle to operate bus routes, that cities grapple with the cost of sending police cars on patrol, and that businesses adjust budgets that can affect the hiring of new employees.  

The good news is that four-dollar gasoline doesn’t have to be our reality. The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas resources that can lower energy prices and grow our economy. H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act, is common sense legislation to responsibly harness the American energy resources we have right here at home.

The Obama Administration has spent the last five and a half years placing our energy resources on federal lands and waters under tight lock-and-key. Offshore areas have been placed off-limits, scheduled exploration off Virginia was canceled, and over half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) has been closed to energy production. That’s why it’s no surprise that since President Obama took office, total federal oil production has dropped six percent and total natural gas production has dropped 28 percent. Meanwhile, gasoline prices have doubled during Obama’s presidency. 

H.R. 4899 would reverse this trend and unlock our American energy. The bill would implement a drill-smart plan that would expand offshore energy production and safely open new areas that contain the most oil and natural gas resources – such as the Mid-Atlantic, Southern Pacific, and Arctic. It would require the Secretary to conduct specific oil and natural gas lease sales, including offshore Virginia that was delayed and then canceled by the Obama Administration. The bill would also establish fair and equitable revenue sharing for all coastal states and improve safety by reorganizing the Interior Department’s offshore energy agencies.

In addition to increased offshore energy production, the bill would also help expand onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands. It would reform the leasing and streamline the permitting process, encourage the development of U.S. oil shale resources, expand production in the NPR-A, and much more.

While these policies will help lower gasoline prices, it will also create over 1.2 million new American jobs and generate over 1.7 billion in new revenue. This bill is a win for our economy and a win for jobs.

It’s also important for our national security. The current turmoil in Iraq has already caused the price of gasoline to increase and serves as an important reminder of why we need to increase production here at home. The best way to protect ourselves from price spikes caused by international conflicts is to increase production of American energy resources. 

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the recent energy boom here in the U.S. is ‘putting slack in the global oil market.’ A senior petroleum analyst noted regarding the recent conflict in Iraq, ‘If this were 2005 we would have seen a 20-30 cent jump in gas prices.  But it’s lower today because domestic energy production is so much higher.’

However, all the increase in U.S. energy production is happening on state and private lands.  As I previously noted, oil and natural gas production on federals lands has declined under President Obama. We can and should be doing so much more when it comes to American produced energy. And doing so will further strengthen our energy security and reduce our reliance on OPEC.

Finally, we need to take action now because the Obama Administration just announced the start of work on the next five-year offshore drilling plan. With this bill, Congress can advance a responsible plan for developing America’s resources. The President’s current plan closes over 85 percent of offshore areas to energy production and includes the lowest number of lease sales ever offered in a five-year plan. The Administration’s restrictive policies should not continue for another five years. That’s why there needs to be a new plan, as outlined in our bill, that opens new areas and helps put a million more Americans back to work. 

H.R. 4489 will ease the pain at the pump for American families and small businesses and eliminate federal government hurdles that keep American energy locked-up. It’s good for our economy, good for jobs, and strengthens our national security. I urge my colleagues to support this common sense bill and reserve the balance of my time.

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