Bursting at the Seams: America's Energy Potential


Can you imagine a prosperous America that utilizes its domestic energy resources to fuel a dynamic economy, jobs and technological innovation? President Obama doesn’t appear to imagine a future of plentiful energy resources.

Instead, the President perpetuates the myth that America is strapped for energy with only 2% of the world’s proven oil reserves and leads an Administration that is more hostile to American energy development than any in recent history. Unfortunately for the President and his anti-affordable energy agenda, proven reserves are not the total reserves; in fact, the US has 1,442 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, of which only 20.7 billion are counted as “proven reserves.”

The amount of “proven reserves” increases over time. In 1944 the U.S. had 20 billion barrels of proven reserves, yet from 1945 to 2010, the US produced 167 billion barrels of oil. So how did we produce eight times the estimated amount? Proven reserves are reserves that have been discovered, generally via drilling, and can be removed economically with today’s technology. Reserves such as ANWR and others that are blocked by regulation are not considered. Nor does this include oil that is yet to be discovered or that will be recoverable with future innovations.

We have more oil than the President will ever admit, and when we also consider our reserves of coal and natural gas, it’s clear the United States is awash in affordable domestic energy. Unfortunately, costly, unnecessary regulations are stymying any hope of using these bountiful resources. Less than 6% of Federal land is currently leased for production, the White House has blocked construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and the administration’s five-year plan for offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) placed vast energy resources under lock and key, all of which impeding economic growth.

A study from Citi GPS suggested that “[t]he main obstacles to developing a North American oil surplus are political rather than geological or technological.” Our problem is that our President is tying our hands behind our back. He’s not letting us live up to our full potential as a nation. If Americans were allowed to access their own energy, this country would experience untold economic growth.

Accessing our abundant energy would decrease the cost of heating homes, driving cars, operating businesses, and it would create countless jobs not only in recovering the reserves but also in small businesses that support that process. We could “add as many as 3.6 million net new jobs by 2020…and shrink the deficit by 60 percent,” not to mention vastly strengthen our geopolitical influence and stability. A report from the Manhattan Institute suggests that the United States could gain $5 trillion in the next two decades with a more commonsense energy policy. The report even shows that North America could become the largest supplier of fuel in the world by 2030 if we open up our hydrocarbon resources, breaking our reliance on foreign fuel and asserting ourselves as the world’s premier energy producer.

Taking advantage of the massive resources here at home is not only our right, our duty as we build a wealthier, healthier, and better America than the one we received.

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