As Congress considers important energy issues this spring, female legislators are at the forefront of the debate. For the first time in the nation’s history, women serve in the top two leadership positions on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee: Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., is chairwoman, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is ranking member, and they are steering legislation that sets the nation’s energy policies to promote sustainability, security and growth.
In fact, both senators have said they plan to look for ways to work together on a diverse portfolio of energy issues in order to ensure a strong and economically secure future for the country. One area that has already received some of the committee’s attention is how best to manage the nation’s energy renaissance. Landrieu and Murkowski are particularly focused on U.S. energy exports, both liquefied natural gas and crude oil.
Landrieu has long been a steadfast proponent of shipping U.S. natural gas abroad. In March, at her first hearing as chairwoman, she supported expediting LNG exports and announced her intention to promote the free market competition of energy policy in order to “break the stranglehold of the tyrants and oppressors who use their energy stockpiles to crush the hopes and promise of freedom and democracy for all people, particularly women and girls.”
Murkowski, also a proponent of energy exports, has said an opportunity exists parallel to natural gas exports: lifting the decadeslong ban on oil exports. In addition to a white paper released earlier this year detailing why this ban should be reversed, Murkowski commented that “the economics are clear: Exports stimulate production, which increases global oil supply, which decreases global oil prices, which decreases global petroleum product prices. In other words, all things being equal, lifting the ban will help consumers.”
Supporting these two energy policies is the correct course of action and would allow our country to prosper at its full potential. The Energy Information Administration’s rising forecasts of oil and natural gas reserves strongly suggest that we are in the position to exceed our domestic needs. Just recently, it projected a 56 percent production increase by 2040 for just natural gas, meaning domestic supply will remain well above projected domestic demand.
While expanding American output will exceed domestic needs well into the future, entering the global market with our excess resources will create huge benefits here at home. Expanding U.S. crude oil exports would put downward pressure on global prices and help create more than 300,000 high paying domestic jobs by 2020. Similarly, natural gas export licenses to non-FTA countries are estimated to add as many as 450,000 jobs and generate upwards of $73 billion in gross domestic product per year between 2016 and 2035.
Our nation’s energy landscape has drastically changed in the past decade, resulting in an antiquated regulatory framework that limits the full potential benefit to Americans of our energy resources. America is now one of the world’s greatest energy producers; accordingly, our nation’s leaders must enact policies that will reflect this new paradigm.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.