As U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne looks on, President George W. Bush delivers a statement on energy Wednesday, June 18, 2008, in the Rose Garden of the White House. Calling on Congress to expand domestic oil production, the President said, "For many Americans, there is no more pressing concern than the price of gasoline. Truckers and farmers and small business owners have been hit especially hard. Every American who drives to work, purchases food, or ships a product has felt the effect. And families across our country are looking to Washington for a response." White House photo by Luke Sharrett
President Bush Discusses EnergyDemocrats to America: Pay More for Gas, We Don't Care!
White House Transcript
June 18, 2008
...In the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies. My administration has worked with Congress to invest in gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. We've mandated a large expansion in the use of alternative fuels. We've raised fuel efficiency standards to ambitious new levels. With all these steps, we are bringing America closer to the day when we can end our addiction to oil, which will allow us to become better stewards of the environment.
In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production. Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal -- and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction. Congress must face a hard reality: Unless Members are willing to accept gas prices at today's painful levels -- or even higher -- our nation must produce more oil. And we must start now. So this morning, I ask Democratic Congressional leaders to move forward with four steps to expand American oil and gasoline production.
First, we should expand American oil production by increasing access to the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that the OCS could produce about 18 billion barrels of oil. That would be enough to match America's current oil production for almost ten years. The problem is that Congress has restricted access to key parts of the OCS since the early 1980s. Since then, advances in technology have made it possible to conduct oil exploration in the OCS that is out of sight, protects coral reefs and habitats, and protects against oil spills. With these advances -- and a dramatic increase in oil prices -- congressional restrictions on OCS exploration have become outdated and counterproductive.
Second, we should expand oil production by tapping into the extraordinary potential of oil shale. Oil shale is a type of rock that can produce oil when exposed to heat or other process[es]. In one major deposit -- the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming -- there lies the equivalent of about 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That's more than three times larger than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. And it can be fully recovered -- and if it can be fully recovered it would be equal to more than a century's worth of currently projected oil imports.
Unfortunately, Democrats in Congress are standing in the way of further development. In last year's omnibus spending bill, Democratic leaders inserted a provision blocking oil shale leasing on federal lands. That provision can be taken out as easily as it was slipped in -- and Congress should do so immediately.
Third, we should expand American oil production by permitting exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR. When ANWR was created in 1980, Congress specifically reserved a portion for energy development. In 1995, Congress passed legislation allowing oil production in this small fraction of ANWR's 19 million acres. With a drilling footprint of less than 2,000 acres -- less than one-tenth of 1 percent of this distant Alaskan terrain -- America could produce an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil. That is roughly the equivalent of two decades of imported oil from Saudi Arabia. Yet my predecessor vetoed this bill.
In the years since, the price of oil has increased seven-fold, and the price of American gasoline has more than tripled. Meanwhile, scientists have developed innovative techniques to reach ANWR's oil with virtually no impact on the land or local wildlife. I urge members of Congress to allow this remote region to bring enormous benefits to the American people.
And finally, we need to expand and enhance our refining capacity. Refineries are the critical link between crude oil and the gasoline and diesel fuel that drivers put in their tanks. With recent changes in the makeup of our fuel supply, upgrades in our refining capacity are urgently needed. Yet it has been nearly 30 years since our nation built a new refinery, and lawsuits and red tape have made it extremely costly to expand or modify existing refineries. The result is that America now imports millions of barrels of fully-refined gasoline from abroad. This imposes needless costs on American consumers. It deprives American workers of good jobs. And it needs to change.
I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past. Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions. If congressional leaders leave for the 4th of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act. And Americans will rightly ask how high oil -- how high gas prices have to rise before the Democratic-controlled Congress will do something about it.
The response from Democrats was typical. They trashed the President's ideas and then went on to spin away the benefits of drilling. The latest canard in their quiver is that we have already leased 68 million acres of offshore sites and the oil companies are not drilling there.
Well, guess what? That's because the oil companies haven't found any oil on those leased acres. One would think that companies earning tens of billions in profit would be only too happy to add more to their bank account if they found the oil.
If you don't think that the congressional ban on offshore drilling has had much impact compare this chart from the Institute for Energy Research showing how the 1982 law impacted oil exploration with this table from the Energy Information Administration (U.S. Dept. of Energy) which shows a sharp decline in U.S. crude oil production.
Democrats response to President Bush's call for new refineries was typical of the neosocialist approach they bravely trumpet these days. Some Congressional Dems went so far as to call for the nationalization of oil refineries. Does anyone really believe that our energy problems will be solved by a government takeover of refineries?
Newt's New Ad
The battle over high gas prices will be a key part of the political debate this year. Newt Gingrich and his American Solutions outfit is at the forefront with their latest ad: