In August I visited small-business owners and energy producers in my home state of Colorado and got an earful on what Washington can do to help create jobs. The common theme from the job creators whom I met with was simple — roll back or eliminate excessive, burdensome and costly government regulations. This would give them the money and confidence to invest in new technology, equipment and employees.
Colorado, along with many other states rich in natural resources, holds one key to our nation’s economic recovery. If we were to tap the vast energy reserves right under our feet, we could give our nation’s economy a huge boost. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s misguided energy policies have put much of those reserves off-limits.
The all-of-the-above energy strategy of House Republicans will do three things. First, it will increase energy supplies and bring down the cost of gasoline at the pump. Second, it will create high-paying jobs. Third, it will increase revenues to the federal government to help pay down our enormous national debt.
The House Natural Resources Committee recently passed legislation that would help eliminate the regulatory confusion, lawsuits and permitting delays that are stifling both conventional and renewable energy development.
A study by the Western Energy Alliance concluded that if Western producers are allowed to develop the vast domestic energy resources found on public lands, investment in the region will double to $58 billion annually by 2020 and direct and indirect jobs will increase by 16 percent. It recommends a thorough review of federal policy, a moratorium on new regulations and limits to unreasonable litigation.
Reasonable regulations that require drilling for oil and gas to be done in a safe and responsible manner should remain in place. And it must be done in a way that is not unduly disruptive to the surface owners. It is important to note that increased pressure to develop on private lands is just one result of the slowdown by this administration of public lands energy development.
We should also be careful to not waste taxpayer money on ill-advised green jobs, as the recent bankruptcy of Solyndra should emphasize. The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that the $30 billion in green handouts in the stimulus bill cost taxpayers about $475,000 per job. In Spain, a study by an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University showed that since 2000, Spain spent $774,000 to create each green job, including subsidies of more than $1.3 million per wind industry job. It found that creating those jobs actually destroyed almost 113,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy.
The House plans to vote on an aggressive and wide-ranging package of reforms to help our small businesses begin investing with confidence. This will definitely include a rollback of excessive regulations on energy producers.
Abundant natural resources and ingenuity have always been two of America’s greatest strengths. I believe if we tap into both of them at this critical point in our nation’s history, we can rebuild our economy and restore prosperity.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) is chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.