Donohue Calls for Energy Development
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The United States must develop its abundant domestic energy resources or risk falling behind its competitors, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said in a major policy speech delivered at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Canada.
“Instead of producing this energy for sale at home and abroad, creating jobs, generating government revenues, cutting into deficits, and strengthening our national security, we are diddling and dawdling and twiddling our thumbs,” Donohue told an audience of business and political leaders on September 23. “This is not a prescription for economic success. This is a prescription for economic stupidity.”
Global demand for energy is expected to increase 53% by 2035; 30% in the United States. While alternative and renewable fuels will grow to become a larger percentage of the energy mix, fossil fuels still will account for 80% of global energy use in 2035.
The United State is rich in energy resources. Onshore federal lands contain 24 billion barrels of oil. In addition, the United States is believed to have more than 2 trillion barrels equivalent of oil shale and oil sands resources—more than the total proven global reserves of conventional oil. Moreover, the Outer Continental Shelf of the United States is estimated to contain enough natural gas to meet all domestic industrial and commercial needs for almost 30 years. Donohue also noted that the United State is “the Saudi Arabia of coal” and that a new generation of nuclear power plants in the United States could provide enormous amounts of energy with no greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet, Donohue said, “we’ve locked most of it away and tossed the key.” Some 97% of federal offshore lands and 94% of federal onshore lands remain unleased due to a combination of a flawed permitting system, shortsighted government policies, a legal system run amok, and opposition from extreme environmentalists and antigrowth advocates.
Donohue pointed to Canada as a model of sensible energy development. Oil sands development in Canada is expected to contribute $1.7 trillion to the Canadian economy over the next 25 years—about $68 billion per year. That translates into 590,000 jobs in the next 25 years. Canada’s oil sands developers have successfully reduced their environmental footprint. According to Canada’s Department of the Environment, per barrel greenhouse gas emissions in the oil sands have been reduced by about one third since 1990.
The United States must tap into Canada’s energy resources or risk having its northern neighbor—which already provides 22% of U.S. oil imports and 95% of the nation’s gas imports—seek alternative energy customers in Asia and elsewhere.
“Put simply, America needs Canada’s energy—and Canada needs a growing U.S. market that is, and will always be, dependent on the availability of affordable energy and power,” Donohue said.
Donohue vowed that the Chamber would keep up pressure on the U.S. government to approve expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian oil to U.S. refineries located in Gulf Coast states. The project would create 250,000 jobs, inject $20 billion into the U.S. economy, and pay more than $5 billion in taxes to local counties.
“More than anything else, Keystone XL offers Americans an opportunity to improve their energy security, “ Donohue said. “The United States has a choice: It can secure access to a stable and reliable supply of oil from Canada—where human rights and the environment are protected—or it can continue to be overreliant on imports from nations that do not share our interests or values.