End Dependence on OPEC

Michele BachmannBy Michele Bachmann 

In just one year, Americans have seen gas prices double. With food costs also soaring – in part due to rising gas prices – it has been difficult for many families to make ends meet. Combine that with estimates of $5 dollar-a-gallon gas this summer and it seems like times will get worse before they get better.

This does not have to be the case. Congress has the ability to reduce these outrageous prices and help our nation’s struggling families get back on their feet.

It has been estimated that in the United States, about 1.8 trillion barrels of oil are available from oil shale. A fine-grained rock which contains hydrocarbons that yield petroleum, oil shale is abundant in the U.S. There is more recoverable oil shale in the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming than in the entire country of Saudi Arabia – enough to meet our supply needs for over two centuries.

A Heritage Foundation study found that if full-scale production of oil shale began within five years, the United States could end its dependence on OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) by 2020. But we have yet to utilize this resource. Instead,Congress has decided to force our nation’s hardworking families to endure monstrous gas prices, while at the same time digging our country further into dependence on foreign oil.

Currently, Brazil, China and Estonia use shale for oil production. It is also used for power generation in Estonia, China, Israel and Germany. Additionally, other countries such as Canada, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are all moving toward shale power in the near future. So why hasn’t the United States used our plentiful shale reserves to reduce our quickly rising gas costs? Federal law prohibits the exploration of oil shale. In December 2007, Congress passed legislation that denied funding for oil shale commercial regulations, which subsequently prevented its production. Current Democratic congressional leadership has no one else to blame but themselves for our nation’s record high gas costs.

Today, Congress has the ability to open the shale reserves and even look to other energy resources like nuclear and wind power to solve our energy dilemma. On several occasions, Democrats promised to meet our nation’s current energy demands, but have failed to do so. They have continually blocked efforts on the House floor to expand the development of our petroleum resources. And most recently, they had the opportunity to support the No More Excuses Energy Act, a bill which would reduce the price of gasoline by opening new American oil refineries and invest in energy alternatives such as wind, nuclear, and clean coal-to-liquid technology. Signing onto this legislation – or at least allowing debate on it – would be an important step in the right direction.

In addition, I am also introducing another much-needed piece of legislation. This bill requires the Interior Department to open ANWR, oil shale reserves, and the Outer Continental Shelf, to exploration if the price of oil gets above $100 a barrel. The Interior Department has noted that there are an estimated 88.85 billion barrels of oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf. The United States holds the world’s largest known unconventional source of oil shale with an estimated 1.23 trillion barrels of oil on federal lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming alone. The legislation also mandates the Interior Department to cut current red tape on drilling permits to help get oil and gas to the pipeline quicker.

The bill would encourage Congress to open federal lands that have been prohibited for drilling. Once these lands are available, we would immediately begin to tap into our own resources and refineries. That would help to decrease the current out-of-control gas prices for consumers and create more jobs at the same time.

These resources belong to U.S. citizens and could be used to help our nation be energy independent once and for all. Congress should act to support the immediate opening of these lands and allow American companies to explore, produce, and put these sources of energy into production. No more time can be wasted: Congress must act now. Paying even higher gas prices is not an option for many American families; their pocket books are already stretched too thin. It’s up to Washington to make lowering oil prices a priority. Opening U.S. shale oil reserves now will provide immediate relief today, tomorrow and for many years to come.

Representative Michele Bachmann serves Minnesota’s 6th district in the US Congress.

  • Nicholas

    I bet where countries are using their oil, their economy is doing great!!

  • Paul

    Thank goodness there are some politicians in Washington with common sense – Keep up the fight Michele!

  • Melanie

    Michelle,

    I hope that whoever needs to be swayed to drilling for shale, will be by your passions. I am a disbeliever in those in charge in Washington really care about what is good for the “average” American. This idea to use shale has been around forever, but none of the powers that be seem to want to change anything that would actually benefit us. Almost like if they did, we may not “need” them anymore.

  • eli

    lets just use the money for developing the new oil drill sites to come up with alternative fuels that will be long term solutions, rather than a shorter-term fix that could (potentially) be dangerous to the environment. even if global warming isn’t as big a deal as scientist are saying, wouldn’t it be better to play it safe. we only have one earth

  • John Dobbie

    If only there were more like minded individuales on this issue in our congress and senate, we would all have more money in our pockets and be better able to support all of the illegal alliens living within our borders. My feeling are simple. Get the oil we have here in the U. S. and use it. Also perhaps we should demand that Mexico send a couple of barrels of oil a month per each illegal allien that is draining our financial resources in this country. It seems our tax dollar is at work in most of the wrong places.

  • Belaqua Jones

    In mid March, crude oil was at a new all time high, breaking the threshold of $110 a barrel. As anyone who reads the paper today knows, it’s well over $140 a barrel now, trading as I write this at just over $145 a barrel, when it had slipped to about $135 a barrel earlier this week. We’ve seen over a 40% increase in the price of crude since New Year’s, and about a 100% increase since July of last year.

    It hasn’t become twice as hard to get oil out of the ground in the past year. Increased usage from India and China hasn’t doubled the demand in that time period. It’s natural for a short resource to go up in price, but these prices owe a lot of their gain in the past year to speculation, plain and simple. I taught a few math classes earlier this decade in California by whatever light shone down from the sun because speculators made the price of energy insanely high to make insane profits, and we had blackouts caused by human greed, not by actual failure of infrastructure.

    Again, let me say that just because what we have now is NOT a recession does not mean what we have now isn’t a problem. Strong stagflation can be much worse than mild recession, and it is being felt worldwide. Ayn Rand, greed’s greatest prophetess, speculated in Atlas Shrugged that the good and important people, the industrialists, could cause more havoc by going on strike than the unwashed masses could ever dream of causing. She wasn’t much of a writer; I’ve read funnier computer assembly instructions. She also wasn’t much a thinker; if the powerful bring the world to its knees, it will be by doing what they do naturally, always trying to squeeze one more dollar out of a situation, not by imitating the masses at the ramparts.

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