More energy development would significantly help US, Donohue says

Policies that encourage responsible development of more US oil and gas could significantly help the nation address its serious federal budget deficit and unemployment problems, US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Thomas J. Donohue said.

“Producing swiftly and responsibly to develop more American energy can help us immeasurably with our fiscal problems, but it can also do so much more for our country,” he said in his 2013 State of American Business address.

The US has more oil, gas, and coal than any other country, and is in a position to export LNG and coal, reducing its trade deficit and bringing billions of dollars back to the US, Donohue observed. Abundant and affordable gas has brought good manufacturing jobs back to this country, particularly in the chemical and steel industries, he said.

“All of this adds up to a lot of jobs, growth, improved national security, and more revenues for the government,” Donohue said. But to achieve these benefits, the US needs to open more federally controlled land onshore and offshore to exploration and development, and create a predictable and fair regulatory environment, he maintained.

Donohue also called for continued development of nuclear power plants, and further research and development of wind, solar, geothermal, and other alternative and renewable energy sources.

“By fully embracing America’s energy opportunity, we can accelerate growth, create millions of new jobs, free ourselves from some less-than-stable global suppliers, and create huge new revenues for government, which will help reduce budget deficits,” he said.

LNG exports

Meeting with reporters following his speech, Donohue and R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice-president for government affairs, reiterated that low gas prices are attracting industries back to the US.

Asked if this precludes LNG exports, Josten replied, “Absolutely not. The United States is a signatory to several global resource commodity trade agreements, and ought to get more gas to global markets.” With such abundant gas resources, the US can accommodate LNG exports and not inhibit its manufacturing renaissance, he said.

Donohue said, “If they don’t do something to stimulate the price of gas a little, nothing will be taken out of the ground. You can’t go around the world demand free, open, and transparent markets, and then not allow LNG exports. Our significant energy resources give us a chance to move on federal spending and taxes because they can generate so much more government revenue.”

In his address, Donohue said jobs and economic growth will remain the Chamber’s top priorities. “We must get this economy moving faster. Growth of 1.5-2% is not acceptable,” he asserted.

Government policymakers should make a serious effort to cut spending before considering tax increases, he said. The federal gasoline tax is an exception because it’s actually a users’ fee, it hasn’t been raised in 20 years, and repairs it funds for the nation’s highways, roads, and bridges are needed badly, he said.

Josten said, “We’re going to have to look at all the tax expenditures. A lot has changed since 50 years ago.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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