Five Actions for Congress and the Administration
Congress and the Administration should:
Get moving on permits. As the only country in the world that places a majority of its territorial waters off-limits to oil and gas exploration, the U.S. should at the very least be drilling in the areas where access is permitted. Removing the de facto moratorium on drilling would immediately increase supply, create jobs, and bring in royalty revenue to federal and state governments.
Require lease sales when ready. Congress should open areas that are off-limits: the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Alaska’s offshore, the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and lands out West. Congress should require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct lease sales if a commercial interest exists to explore and drill. Congress should also provide the funding necessary to lease new onshore and offshore areas to oil and gas companies. Although it would take time for the federal government to lease these areas and for the energy companies to develop them, at least the process could begin.
Create a sensible review processes. Placing a 270-day time limit on environmental reviews would ensure a quick review process for energy projects on federal lands. Construction projects on federal lands take an average of 4.4 years. The 270 days would allow for a thorough environmental review process but would not prevent investments from moving forward.
Remove regulatory delays and limit litigation. Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Creating a manageable time frame for permitting and for groups or individuals to contest energy plans would keep potentially cost-effective ventures from being tied up for years in litigation while allowing the public and interested parties to voice opposition or support for these projects.
Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. Congress should use its authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations to accept the State Department’s conclusion that construction of the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk. Approving the pipeline would create jobs and increase energy production—both of which the nation desperately needs—from a friendly supplier and ally.