Energy freedom is crux of solution to economic woes

Washington. The maxim states that the simplest solution is usually the correct one. And America’s financial crisis is no exception to the rule.

Overwhelmed by bailout plans and other convoluted proposals, many of our nation’s leaders are missing the obvious answer to our economic woes: energy freedom.

For that reason, it’s fortunate that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has decided to leave D.C. and travel around the country to hear what the rest of the country has to say about offshore energy production and what role it could play in repairing our economy.

His next stop? Sunny California.

At the Interior Department’s San Francisco hearing, it should be noted that greater access to the oil and gas reserves right off our coast would mean new job opportunities at home. That’s noteworthy, especially to the 257,000 Californians who lost their jobs last year. The new booming labor market generated by allowing domestic energy companies access to those natural resources would include journeymen, rig operators, engineers, environmental and safety specialists, and many more. According to a recent study by the American Energy Alliance, the Golden State stands to gain about 300,000 new, well-paying, long-lasting jobs.

New offshore energy production would not only buoy individual bank accounts, but the State budget and U.S. Treasury as well. As energy companies purchase leases for access and pay additional taxes while drilling, a staggering $2.2 trillion dollars would flood federal, state, and local coffers.

With figures of that magnitude, it’s easy to see why royalty payments are already the Treasury’s second largest contribution after income taxes. In fact, the taxpayers’ return from royalty payments totaled $11.4 billion last year. And increased access to domestic resources would make that figure look like chump change.

The promise of new production would also attract investors – perhaps the most significant feature of opening America’s offshore energy resources. Energy stocks have acted as a marker for the recent market rollercoaster, rising and falling with Wall Street’s ebb and flow. So it’s no surprise that economic insecurity is a serious concern for thousands of Americans with pension funds invested in domestic energy companies. Now, this is where Ockham really comes in handy.

By simply allowing U.S. companies to develop our country’s vast oil and natural gas resources, Congress can stimulate our energy industry, bolster the market, and secure the retirement funds of our nation’s pension holders (firemen, teachers, etc.). New jobs, lower energy prices, and financial peace of mind; it’s no wonder the majority of Americans — even the majority of Obama voters — support increased access to offshore drilling.

Now, here’s the significance of San Francisco’s upcoming hearing. Many of the existing environmental laws and regulations concerning offshore energy production are decades old and simply do not reflect the technological breakthroughs that have enabled us to produce energy and protect the environment at the same time. These outdated laws — and those who file frivolous lawsuits based on them — threaten to stop forward progress on greater offshore energy production.

That’s why it is critical for Californians to let Washington know that they support increased production of the energy resources they own.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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