Washington, DC - Today, Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Members of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses held a bicameral hearing entitled "The Western Economy—Perspectives of Job Creators in the West."
Members heard testimony from western business leaders on the specific challenges they face creating jobs in the West. Witnesses discussed the growing amount of Washington red-tape that is limiting American energy and mineral production and threatening to push investment and job creation out of the West.
At today's hearing, the Western Energy Alliance, which represents over 400 energy companies, presented a new study detailing potential oil and gas development across the entire West. The study specifically found that there are twenty projects that oil and gas companies have proposed in the West that would create 120,905 jobs, $8 billion in wages and bring in $27.5 billion in economic activity.
Highlights from the Hearing:
"We cannot do enough to underscore how important our natural resources are in the west and how important the production of energy is to the American economy. It is important that we focus on the roadblocks that our own government is putting in the way of people who want to create jobs and who want to deliver energy to the American people." - U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)
"Ever since President Obama took office, he has made it clear that the West is not a priority for him. EPA, the Interior Department, and other Federal agencies seem to almost go out of their way to target jobs in the West—specifically jobs producing American energy." - U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senate Western Caucus Chairman
"Rather than support legislation that will spur economic growth and American energy production, the Obama administration continues to enforce arduous regulations that make it even more difficult for Americans who are already struggling to scrape by. Today, we heard again from American job producers from across the West who reiterated that the jobs and energy are available if they are given certainty and predictability from the federal government." - U.S. Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM), Congressional Western Caucus Chairman
"The Department of Energy claims there is more than 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. This is more than the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. If we were able to develop this resource the way we are capable of doing, we could have a major impact on the jobless rate as well as the cost of energy in our country." - U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Western Caucus Subcommittee on Public Lands Chairman
"When President Obama and unelected bureaucrats at the EPA talk about an all-of-the-above energy plan they clearly mean some-of-the-above. So far their debilitating cuts and regulations on the coal, oil and gas industries have compromised affordable, accessible energy for our nation and initiated an attack on western jobs and economies. Oil and gas drilling permits are being withheld in some cases for years and new coal-fired regulations have rendered coal power plants extinct already robbing our country enough energy to power 18 million homes. But the biggest victim of this attack is the American energy consumer inundated with rising energy costs for the sake of the Administration's agenda. At some point logic needs to play a role in the Administration's energy conversation along with a realization of the importance of western energy sector. I'm thankful for all of the job creators who participated in today's Western Caucus. Their experiences are invaluable to this discussion." - U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Congressional Western Caucus Vice Chairman
"When we look at what regulations might cost, it is important to understand that FMC and the other domestic soda ash producers cannot ‘outsource' our soda ash business. We cannot move the world's largest and most productive source of soda ash to another country. We need to maintain the competitive edge that allows us to export 52% of what we produce, and contribute over $875 million surplus to the overall US balance of trade. We have serious concerns about the future of our competitive position if required to make non- economic decisions based on domestic regulations that our international competitors do not have to comply with." - Jim Pearce, Manufacturing Director, FMC Corporation
"Perhaps the most egregious example of example of job killing rules comes from EPA, who is using these rules to drive power generation away from coal by dramatically raising the cost of coal?fired electricity. The courts are beginning to take note that EPA is over?reaching its authority. An example is the Spruce permit which was legally issued over three years ago, and then EPA suddenly vetoed that permit. The courts have since reinstated the rule." - Greg Schaefer, Vice President for External Affairs, Arch Coal
"Western independent oil and natural gas producers are able to help solve some of our nation's most pressing economic and energy security challenges, but bureaucratic red tape, redundant and burdensome government regulations, and the unending specter of litigation are standing in the way. There is a pressing need to reform the management and regulation of energy development in the West if the United States is serious about increasing its own domestic energy supplies and rebuilding the economy." - Tim Wigley—President, Western Energy Alliance
"Pioneer is concerned that certain regulatory issues will slow our ability to produce energy and create jobs. For example, Endangered Species Act listings are often made without proper science. The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard is affecting operations in Texas. Pioneer's operation in the Raton Basin is one of the case studies EPA is using for its hydraulic fracturing study. Industry is concerned since Congress has charged EPA to conduct a scientific study of hydraulic fracturing, yet Pioneer has noticed procedures that raise questions about the quality of the science." - Tom Sheffield—VP Rockies, Pioneer Natural Resources
"Leasing delays are holding up production. Leasing is not a green light to drill—it's just the first step in a long, expensive process fraught with bureaucratic red tape and lawsuits. BLM created polices in 2010 that added three additional layers onto the leasing process. These new regulations are in addition to the existing multiple layers of regulation that for decades have made development on federal lands more time-consuming and difficult compared to private lands. As a result, lease parcels offered by the government in the Rockies have declined by 70%, acreage by 81%, and revenue by 44% since 2008." - Jim Schroeder—President and CEO, Mesa Energy
"Samson has been frustrated during both the leasing and the permitting phases. Federal law requires BLM to issue leases within sixty days of receiving payment from winning bidders, yet BLM regularly fails to do so. A Government Accountability Office report found that BLM failed to comply with this law 90% of the time." - Rich Frommer, VP Rocky Mountain Division, Samson
"Our power production and environmental managers are still going through the EPA's 1,100-plus page Mercury and Air Toxics rule, otherwise known as Utility MACT. We know there will be impacts from the new rule – more emission control requirements at our power plants – and the cost will be significant. Montana-Dakota Utilities and the other two co-owners of the Big Stone Power Plant in South Dakota will spend $490 million on an environmental retrofit project. That regulatory compliance expense will eventually be added to our customers' bills, resulting in a rate increase of approximately 15 percent." - Geoff Simon, Director of Government Relations, MDU Resources
"Scrutiny of proposed projects is appropriate because we all want to maintain the environment and the quality of our public lands. However, there is a real threat that over-regulation will threaten the global competitiveness, and even the survival of this industry. This shovel-ready economic engine is on stand-by, hampered by the arduous, lengthy, and overly complex permitting process." - Pat Rogers, Director of Environment and Permitting, General Moly
"Tri?State and other electric power suppliers employ thousands of people throughout the West in generation facilities, mines and support operations. Many of these jobs are in rural areas and are among the best?paying. At a time when there is a major effort to not only create, but to maintain jobs in rural areas, the confluence and additive effects of the myriad regulations we've discussed directly against those goals." - Dave Lock, Senior Manager of Government Relations, Tri-State