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Critical energy issues for discussion with Secretary Salazar

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Today, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will appear before a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee, which comes directly on the heels of his testimony yesterday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Both hearings provide a good opportunity for the Secretary and committee members to discuss some critical issues about energy policy that are getting more and more attention as the situation in the Middle East remains uncertain and gasoline prices remain volatile.  

Here are a few of the critical issues that I hope are discussed today, and I’m sure I’m not alone:
First, I hope the committee has an opportunity to discuss why the U.S. effectively stopped deepwater development for almost a year after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, when governments around the world evaluated the safety of their offshore and deepwater drilling programs after the incident and determined it was safe to proceed.

Second, the committee could debate why, when all the evidence shows that the incident was an isolated event, the government seems to want to talk about “systemic failure” in an industry that has drilled 14,000 deepwater wells worldwide without an incident like Macondo. 

Third, given the instability in the Middle East, it’s important to discuss enacting policies that will help us develop more energy here in the U.S. and our neighbor to the north, Canada.  Doing so would increase security of supply to put downward pressure on prices while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in government revenues.

Fourth, with record deficits at the state and federal levels, it’s time to decide if it really makes sense for government to forgo billions of dollars in new royalty payments and taxes that development of U.S. energy resources would create – if resource access was granted.

And finally, with the U.S. still slowly recovering from one of the worst economic and employment crises in decades, it’s important for the committee to discuss policies that take advantage of the job creation that comes with energy development. Opening up American resources for development that have been kept off-limits could create 130,000 jobs by 2030, in addition to generating more than $1.7 trillion in government revenue over the duration of the projects.

Today’s hearing is an excellent opportunity to raise these vital issues – I hope we see some genuine dialogue when the Secretary testifies.

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