New Congress Brings New View On Energy Future

While Tuesday’s election outcomes across the country were attributed to an ailing economy, a government takeover of health care, Wall Street bailouts and the stimulus bill, a leading cause for significant Congressional Democratic loses was due to support for overreaching climate legislation and the cap-and-trade bill. In more than 30 races across the country, incumbents who voted in support of the job killing House cap-and-trade bill saw an end to their reign in Washington. Many of the newly elected Republican House members voiced their doubts of the science behind global warming and will now seek to overturn President Barack Obama’s environmental and energy policies.

With a new Republican majority in Congress, the question now is, “How will the election shape our future energy policy and are climate legislation initiatives and cap-and-trade finally dead?”

Tuesday’s election results proved that in a time of skyrocketing debt and rampant unemployment, Americans do not support those in favor of job-killing energy taxes. Republican control of the House suggests that any future climate legislation will undoubtedly be off the table. Even President Obama sees the writing on the wall. In response to the election outcomes on November 2nd, Obama noted, “I think there are a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year, and so it’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after.”

Since his inauguration in 2008, Obama has made it clear that climate legislation, the regulation of greenhouse gases, and support of renewable sources of energy were some of his top priorities. In light of the election outcomes, the president has shown some positive signs of bipartisanship and a willingness to work with Republicans on some of these issues. Most important to Louisiana’s oil and gas industry, Obama’s recent support to increase natural gas exploration is certainly a movement in a more positive direction.

During his address on Wednesday, November 3rd, Obama showed some significant room for compromise with House Republicans by expressing his support for an expansion of natural gas drilling nationwide. In his remarks, Obama referred to vast new sources of shale gas throughout the country. He remarked, “We’ve got, I think, broad agreement that we’ve got terrific natural gas resources in this country.” Obama continued by adding, “Are we doing everything we can to develop those?”

The president is right. We do have abundant reserves of natural gas right here in our own backyard and we have the technology to recover it. It is our hope that as

Obama leans towards compromise with a new Republican majority in the House, legislation that stands to inhibit the production of our nation’s shale gas reserves should fall to the wayside.

It’s clear that shale gas has enormous potential for our energy future.

Moving forward, Congressional and EPA initiatives to regulate hydraulic fracturing and green house gases are unwarranted and represent an overburdening reach by the federal government. Under the effective and proven oversight of the states, we can safely andefficiently produce and harness the energy of our vast natural gas reserves.

Don Briggs is president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association.

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