Steps Toward a Secure Energy Future

Oct 4, 2011

I recently visited Banff, Canada to speak about energy policy at the Global Business Forum, and I was reminded of an arresting statistic. In June, more jobs were created in the province of Alberta than in the entire United States. How? Canada is embracing its vast natural resources and expanding its role as an energy super power.

America needs to take some decisive steps of its own.

Like our neighbor to the north, America has abundant energy supplies. Onshore federal lands contain 24 billion barrels of oil, another 2 trillion barrels worth of oil shale and oil sands resources sit beneath U.S. soil, and we have untold billions of barrels off our shores. At current usage rates, we have more than a 100-year supply of natural gas and at least a 200-year supply of coal. We need to develop it!

By leveraging those resources we could create hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, generate hundreds of billions in government revenue, and lessen our reliance on energy from nations that don’t share our values or interests. And given today’s faltering economy, we should be embracing affordable, plentiful American energy sources, rather than demonizing them.

We must end shortsighted government policies, a broken permitting process, and regulatory burdens that threaten energy production.

We must strengthen strategic partnerships with friendly allies with shared interests, such as Canada. America imports more energy from Canada than from any other nation—22% of our oil imports and 95% of our natural gas imports. As Canada ramps up investment in oil sands development, America will also benefit through access to a stable supply of fuel. And for every two oil sands jobs created in Canada, one job will be created in the United States.

We must also invest in the infrastructure to support a growing energy supply. The planned Keystone XL pipeline would safely transport 700,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada, Montana, the Dakotas, and Oklahoma to U.S. refiners in Texas. The project alone would create 250,000 jobs and inject $20 billion into the U.S. economy.

Finally, we need everything. We must embrace conventional sources of energy like oil, clean coal, natural gas, and nuclear while also fostering the energy innovations of tomorrow. 

America has a choice. We can take steps to secure an affordable, abundant energy supply, spur growth, create jobs, and strengthen our competitiveness. Or we can sit on our hands and watch our economy grind to a halt and our jobless rate climb as other nations, and their economies, surge ahead.

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