April 3, 2001
12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. - “This nation’s ability to use its natural resources to meet its growing energy needs has been severely constrained due to misguided government policies. Promising areas for development of natural gas in the lower 48 states have been placed off limits. Given our rapidly growing use of this resource, these will soon become necessary,” said Chairman Frank H. Murkowski today during a hearing on impediments to domestic oil and gas production. U.S. consumption of crude oil (mostly gasoline) and natural gas is expected to grow over the next few years. Total U.S. petroleum consumption is forecast to increase from 19.5 million barrels a day to between 24 and 28 million barrels per day by 2020, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. Most new electricity generation capacity planned for the next five years is expected to be natural gas-fired. New sources of oil and gas will be required to meet U.S. energy needs over the next century. “We cannot produce energy if we cannot get access to it,” said Murkowski. “ It is important to look at all existing access barriers, and review them. This should also include efforts to streamline the leasing process while encouraging a dialogue that ensures safe, environmentally responsible development.” Access issues limit the ability to reach known resources, slow down development in certain areas, and impede the construction of needed pipelines required to deliver crude oil and natural gas to markets. Impediments to production of oil and gas resources take many forms. Monument and wilderness designations, new policies prohibiting road construction, administrative withdrawals, and inaction all work to restrict access to the resource base and drive up the costs of exploration and production. “We have the technology to find oil and gas in a way the minimizes the impact on the environment. We can respect the land that both people and animals depend on for their welfare, and with cutting edge technolgies we can have responsible development and exploration, while preserving cultures and ecosystems alike. We can develop our energy resources while staying committed to a clean, safe and healthy environment,” Murkowski said. ###