Energy is the lifeblood of our economy.  As our competitors around the globe have shown us in recent years, job creation and economic growth begin with access to abundant, affordable energy supplies. 

Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s stimulus proposals are founded on the fundamentally flawed notion that we will achieve prosperity if we make coal, oil, and natural gas, which make up 85 percent [1] of the energy that fuels our economy, more expensive and less available.  Meanwhile, President Obama wishes to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on the most expensive and least efficient energy sources and force American consumers to pay more to purchase them.

Energy is, literally, “the capacity to do work.”  More energy means more work, more jobs, and more economic growth.  Less affordable energy means less work performed here at home.  Affordable energy creates jobs and stimulates investment in America.

IER supports government policies that encourage private investment, foster job creation, and provide American consumers access to the vast, proven, affordable energy supplies they own beneath the 2.3 billion acres of government lands not leased for responsible energy production.  These enormous taxpayer-owned resources, and the American jobs they would create, have been held hostage by a decades-long government policy of saying, “No, we can’t”.

Today, IER is offering a bold economic stimulus plan that will create jobs, strengthen our economy, enhance our national energy security, and make the U.S. more competitive in the world.  Best of all, it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.  In fact, it could generate hundreds of billions of dollars, along with jobs and new energy supplies for the future.

IER’s plan represents the most significant change in government energy policy in more than three decades.  We urge the Obama Administration to say, “Yes, we can” to our two-part plan, which begins by embracing the fundamental medical precept: First, Do No Harm:

  • Vow to defend jobs and investments against expensive, job-killing climate regulations.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently stated that she would not allow EU climate regulations that “take decisions that would endanger jobs or investments in Germany.”  President Obama should follow suit and vow to defend American jobs against costly climate regulations.
  • Halt EPA’s attempt to regulate carbon dioxide using the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was designed to regulate regional air pollutants, not global concentrations of carbon dioxide.  President Obama needs to apply a cost-benefit analysis to EPA’s proposal to make 85 percent of the energy that fuels our economy more expensive and less available, cost Americans $7 trillion over the next 20 years, and accomplish little, if any, real reductions in global temperature.
  • Renounce plans to bankrupt coal companies. As a presidential candidate, Obama said he would bankrupt coal-fired power plants with climate regulations. America currently gets 48 percent of our electricity from coal. Unlike wind and solar, coal is reliable, affordable, and proven. Wind and solar cannot power modern society’s always-on electricity needs.
  • Join other policymakers in denouncing billions for “project[s] that depend on significant taxpayer subsidies while potentially doubling power costs” for American consumers and abandon all efforts to implement Federal Renewable Fuels Standards, Federal Renewable Portfolio Standards and Low Carbon Fuel Standards.

And second, say “Yes, we can” and pursue the following landmark changes in federal energy policy:

  • End subsidies for all forms of energy and return the money to American taxpayers. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in energy production.  Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), direct payments to individuals and cutting taxes have the fastest and most significant impacts on the economy.
  • Continue our progress on the most significant change in energy policy in decades: Streamline regulations to produce energy from American resources on American lands and coastal watersICF International recently released a study that shows developing America’s abundant but currently off-limits domestic energy supply would create 160,000 new jobs alone and generate $1.7 trillion for local, state, and federal tax revenue.
  • Provide coastal states with 50 percent of revenue from offshore and onshore energy leasing.  Last year alone, the U.S. raised over $23 billion from energy leasing on federal lands.
  • Support exploration and energy production in ANWR. According to the Energy Information Administration, ANWR “is the largest unexplored, potentially productive geological onshore basin in the United States.”  It contains a mean expected value of 10.4 billion barrels of oil. Opening ANWR would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, generate billions of dollars in state and federal revenue, and enhance our energy security.
  • Expedite job creation by waiving all regulations on federal lands for the expedited construction of the Alaska natural gas pipeline.  Congress did this in 1973 for the 800 mile-long Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, which was built in just three years and has since delivered 16 billion barrels of oil to American consumers. Russia, Iran, and Qatar control 60 percent of the world’s natural gas supplies. We should use our abundant supplies of natural gas, and not allow another OPEC-style cartel to limit our energy sources.
  • Allow the exploration and experimentation necessary to produce affordable energy from America’s oil shale resources. The western United States is home to an estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent in oil shale. This is about three times the amount of proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. This resource is untapped and needs research to develop economically.
  • Permit the exploration and experimentation necessary to produce affordable energy from methane hydrates.  A 2007 study found that the U.S. has about 5,700 trillion cubic feet of methane hydrates—about 900 times the current annual gas consumption in the U.S. Like oil shale, this resource is untapped, and companies need to research ways to bring it to market.
  • Limit frivolous lawsuits designed to thwart responsible development of American energy and the American jobs it creates. The following quote sums up this problem best.  In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires in January 2003, The Wilderness Society’s Peter Morton threatened:  “If you bid on a lease on public land, you can expect (environmental litigation).
  • Remove regulatory impediments and repeal punitive laws that make it increasingly difficult to build or expand refineries.  While existing refineries have gone to great lengths to expand their capacity to meet growing domestic demand, refinery expansions are becoming more and more difficult due in part to regulatory impediments, bureaucratic red tape and a barrage of punitive federal legislation in recent years.
  • Resolve issues involving the Yucca Mountain Repository for spent nuclear fuel.  The Federal government has been studying Yucca Mountain as a fuel repository for the last 30 years.  Ratepayers have paid billions to the Nuclear Waste Fund—it’s time for the Federal government to move forward and provide a return on that investment.
  • Remove regulatory barriers to building the next generation of nuclear power plants. The Federal government should not stand in the way of developing nuclear fuel reprocessing, pebble-bed reactors, or whatever forms of nuclear energy are economical.

[1] According to EIA, in 2007 39 percent of our energy came from petroleum, 22 percent from coal, 23 percent from natural gas, 8 percent from nuclear, 2.4 percent from hydroelectric, 2.1 percent from wood derived fuels, 1.0 percent from biofuel, 0.3 percent from geothermal, 0.3 percent from wind, and 0.1 percent from solar. The latest data from EIA is available here:

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