Cum vad americanii propria securitate energetica

2011/03/16

Press Release of Senator Lugar

Lugar Tells Christian Coalition Costs of Foreign Oil Are Too High

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Senator Dick Lugar delivered the following remarks at an energy conference held by the Christian Coalition today in Washington:

It is a great pleasure to join you today for this important discussion on energy, faith, and family.  I want to thank Roberta Combs for her invitation and for her personal leadership and advocacy that solving our energy crisis is fundamental to ensuring the security, economy, and well-being of all Americans.

Hoosiers and Americans feel the pain of our foreign oil addiction each day at the gas pump.  This morning at the Phillips 66 station at the corner of Ohio and East Streets in Indianapolis, regular unleaded gas cost $3.65 per gallon.  The situation for consumers could get worse if costly oil stokes inflation, driving up the cost of consumer goods and food.  For many Americans, and especially for the nearly 1 in 10 Hoosiers without a job, high pump prices require difficult choices between what they can and cannot provide to their families, churches, and communities.

Rising oil prices also threaten job growth and economic recovery.  In the first three quarters of 2010, Americans sent approximately $927 million per day overseas for oil.  The figure will be even higher when updated reports arrive.  That steady outflow is money that cannot be reinvested in American productivity and jobs.  In general, every 10 percent increase in the price of oil cuts about a quarter of one percent off global GDP.  That amount may not send the world into recession, but it would be a major setback to job creation.

One group of Americans that feels the consequences of foreign oil dependence even more than motorists is our military and civilian personnel serving overseas.  They and their families have endured long deployments to the Middle East on missions that are connected to maintaining the stability of that oil producing region.  But despite the strategic risks of our dependence, the United States is importing more oil now than we were prior to September 11, 2001.  This is especially concerning when you consider that some of the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on oil each year are diverted to governments and groups that do not wish us well.  Governments rich in oil from Iran to Venezuela are emboldened or insulated by their dominant position in oil markets.  For example, we continue to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program, yet other nations are hesitant to endanger their access to Iran’s oil and natural gas supplies.  In many oil rich countries, revenues are used to entrench corruption and authoritarianism even as citizens live in dire poverty.

The problem of our foreign oil dependence is especially severe now because global demand is once again surging and at the same time production from conventional oilfields is dropping faster than expected. This puts a squeeze on the amount of oil that producers could put on the market but are holding back, which is essential for preventing market volatility.  Violence in Libya dramatically demonstrates that Americans are directly affected by events far beyond our borders.

Recently, Saudi Arabia announced that it is increasing production to calm oil markets.  We welcome what relief this can bring to rising prices.  But Americans understand that we should not have to depend on the good will of rulers in the Middle East.

Ending our dangerous over-reliance on oil imports necessitates greater use of domestic resources, improved efficiency, and strong international cooperation.  I am working to reverse the Obama administration’s de facto prohibition on new oil drilling, promote new forms of liquid fuels such as from Indiana biomass and coal, and encourage dramatic increases in vehicle fuel efficiency.  I also am working to improve reliability and transparency in global markets by encouraging diversified supply routes and increased trade with reliable suppliers such as Canada.  Transition will take time, but that is all the more reason to work quickly and assertively.  In a world of tight oil supplies, every barrel produced or saved is important for America’s security and prosperity.

The energy plan I introduced last year would have cut foreign oil imports by 40 percent by 2030.  I am revising this plan to find even more gains.

As a legislator, it is my duty and privilege to address fundamental challenges to American society such as energy security.  As a Christian, I join you in recognizing that we have a duty to be good stewards of the Earth that has been given to us.  I recall working with my father Marvin and brother Tom on our 604 acre family farm in Marion County.  When we were boys, Tom and I put our savings into planting wheat that was subsequently destroyed by a flood.  Loss of our investment was a good business lesson.  Our Dad built a higher and longer levee that prevented future floods.  But it also was a profound testament that the resources provided by God’s Earth cannot be taken for granted.

When we care for the Earth, it provides in abundance.  How we use and generate energy is critical to stewardship.

Thank you for the opportunity to join with you in fellowship today, and I look forward to our conversation.

Ohio: The Next Oil and Natural Gas Frontier?

If you’re following March Madness this year, you’re probably aware that Ohio State is the top seed in the NCAA basketball tournament this year. Buckeye fans are thrilled, of course, and are hoping their team advances through the competition and becomes Number One in the nation.

But there’s a new game in Ohio that could bring another type of success to the state. It’s the search for oil and natural gas believed to exist below Ohio’s surface in some untapped sandstone pockets and in the massive Utica Shale formation.

The Utica Shale is a rock formation that stretches from Ontario to Tennessee. It is larger than the Marcellus Shale and lies beneath it. In parts of Pennsylvania, it is about two miles beneath the surface, but in Ohio it rises to a depth of about 6,000 to 2,000 feet, making it a good drilling prospect. Little is known about the formation, but tests apparently have been promising. In recent months, oil and natural gas development companies have been buying up leases in several Ohio counties and conducting seismic surveys. According to published reports, one company has invested $1 billion to acquire mineral rights below about 1 million acres.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has called the possible existence of oil and natural gas deposits a “godsend.” Ohio has an $8 billion deficit, and its 9.4 percent unemployment remains above the national average. Studies have shown that oil and natural gas development creates jobs, generates government revenue for much-needed services, and provides a healthy boost to the economy.

These facts are not lost on the town of Cambridge, Ohio, which is considering allowing oil drilling in its city park. Mayor Tom Orr says the poor economy is draining the town’s coffers, and he cannot continue asking the taxpayers to pay more to keep the town afloat. As he told the Columbus Dispatch, “If there are other opportunities to raise revenue, we have to look at them.”

Ohio’s State Geologist Larry Wickstrom says the state’s oil and natural gas production has been declining since 1984, but he believes several dozen new wells could be drilled by year’s end. If they are successful, it’s possible that Ohio’s financial picture will improve markedly, along with its contribution to U.S. energy supplies.

Based on the events of the past several weeks, Ohio’s oil and natural gas couldn’t come at a better time for its citizens and for all Americans. The United States must develop more of its own oil and natural gas to promote U.S. energy security, create jobs, reduce the trade deficit, and to keep America running smoothly.

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