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  • Energy Freedom Day: A Good Start Toward A Sound Energy Policy

    Today is Energy Freedom Day. The Congressional restrictions on energy leasing in 85 percent of America’s territorial waters, which have been renewed annually since 1982, were allowed to lapse this year. They expired on September 30th, and since overlapping White House restrictions were rescinded by President Bush a few months ago, nearly all of our federally controlled waters are now open for energy leasing.

    At least on paper. In reality, the process of leasing and subsequent exploration and drilling takes a number of years. Part of the delays are due to multiple layers of regulatory red tape, and several opportunities for anti-energy activists to file administrative appeals and lawsuits. For a list of examples of how environmental groups tied up leases in litigation in the past, go here.

    The Heritage Foundation is one of several organizations that has long argued that the first logical step in dealing with the nation’s energy challenges is to remove the government restrictions that prevent making full use of the oil, natural gas, and other energy resources here in the U.S. Thus, lifting the moratorium was a key step. But more needs to be done to ensure that the energy beneath these restricted areas – preliminary estimates put it at 19 billion barrels of oil and 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – can actually reach the market in a reasonable time frame.

    Already some in Congress have suggested that they will put the moratorium back in place in 2009, indicating that the gains of Energy Freedom Day will require a constant defense or may be lost. Senator Harry Reid has already said, “We look forward to working with the next president to hammer out a final resolution of this issue.” But beyond stopping a new moratorium, Congress should also consider provisions, such as those soon to be introduced Drill Now Act (Sen. Jim DeMint R-SC). S. 3646 that would hammer out a final resolution this year with this president by:

    Permanently Ends Bans on Offshore Drilling in Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Oil Shale Areas

    Expedites Leasing Process: Allows the Mineral Management Service to being preleasing and leasing activities immediately, without the need to completely write a new 5-year leasing plan. The Drill Now Act would eliminate the need to write this 5-year plan, and allows the pre-leasing to begin immediately. Under current law, drilling may not begin until 2011, but under Drill Now Act, drilling could begin in late 2009.

    Ensures 50/50 State Royalty Sharing: Creates revenue sharing for all states that allow drilling off their coasts divided – 50% for states and 50% for the Federal Treasury.

    Expedites Judicial Review of Environmental Lawsuits: Allows only 90 days to submit a legal case to U.S. District Courts. Any appeal of a district court can only be made in the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. Limits judicial review for how the Secretary enforces laws.

    Energy Freedom Day represents the first real step towards dealing with high oil prices by increasing the domestic supply. But additional efforts will be needed to ensure that the promise of additional American oil and natural gas becomes a reality.

    Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman co-authored this blog.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Energy Freedom Day: A Good Start Toward A Sound Energy Policy

    1. Thomas Gray, South C says:

      If this ,,drill now act,, gets voted on and passed the president, being pro oil I think would sign it,, but guess who has the power to not let it come up for a vote,

      and if she does all the anti energy radicals will have a fit.

      But still it's my belief we must ,,,turn away from oil,,, somehow becouse the supply demand problem is only going to get worse in the near future and as the higher prices become unaffordable starting with the poor people first as is already happening with heating fuel and slowly work it's way up,

      the reality is there will be no mercy.

      Thats why we need atom power it's affordable and obtainable and will be when oil becomes to expensive as a transportation fuel.

      I noticed Mr warren buffet the billionair,, has invested in a battery company, a electric motor company, and a car company, this week, hmmmm.

    2. Michael Conditt, Te says:

      Thank you Sen. DeMint for your immediate action on behalf of the American people. The Drill Now Act is a step in the right direction towards energy independence. I'm curious what the mainstream media is going to have to say about it. I'm also curious if the Democrat controlled Congress will ever let it come to a vote. America needs to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Domestic oil production will create jobs and boost the economy. It will reduce gas prices therefore reducing the prices of goods that we all use every day. But we can't stop there. We also need to produce more natural gas and more clean coal, which is essential to energy production. We need more alternative energy sources as well. We have the technology to safely produce nuclear energy. We can also further develope wind and solar technology. America can be energy independant. It will not happen overnight, but if we never begin, this will never happen! Drill Now!

    3. Edward Hopson, Bluff says:

      Cheap home grown energy has long been the American way of life. It underpins our entire economy. It has been our advantage over the rest of the world for so many years. Now that we have lost it we appreciate this fact more and more. Global warming is scary but we simply don't have the time to bring alternatives on line before we suffer economic collapse. We have watched jobs migrate to other countries because of high energy costs. Remember the natural gas that comes with new oil does lower our carbon footprint.

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