Governor Mike Huckabee stressed that America needs a sound energy
policy focused on the future.
"No one here needs to be reminded of how vulnerable
our country is to a disruption of our oil and natural gas supplies,"
he said, "but what are the problems we face in the next few years?
Huckabee suggested three areas of concern.
"I think we all agree that the immediate danger we
face is seeing another terrorist attack on our nation," he said.
"A successful attack on our energy infrastructure would have devastating,
catastrophic effects on our economy, not to mention the potential
"We cannot afford for something of a catastrophic
nature to happen to our energy industry."
The second issue is instability in the Middle East
and its impact on America's petroleum supply. The Energy Information
Administration estimates the United States imports 56 percent of
its oil supplies, he said, — and by 2020 that figure will swell
to 62 percent.
The third problem is energy consumption, which is
outpacing production. Since the 1970s, energy production has grown
only 14 percent, but consumption is up over 30 percent. The EIA
predicts that the nation's total energy consumption over the next
20 years will increase by 32 percent.
The agency also predicts that in the next 20 years
petroleum use will grow by 33 percent and natural gas use will swell
by 50 percent, Huckabee said.
"That's the bad news. The really bad news is that
in spite of all these increases in consumption, domestic oil production
may actually drop in the next 20 years without a change in policy,"
"We ought to know from experience that the federal
government alone is not the ultimate solution, although federal
policy is important," he continued.
He referred to a report released several years ago
by the IOGCC that outlined many of the nation's energy concerns
and proposed both a national energy policy and a variety of state-led
"The concerns expressed in that report are as valid
now as they were a few years ago," he said. "I'm glad the president
has fulfilled one of the report's primary recommendations — that
we adopt a national energy policy. The president and vice president
have crafted a policy that is agreeable to the IOGCC's position.
I hope that Congress will continue to support it, but we must understand
that the battle is far from over and we have to make our voices
heard on this issue in Washington and throughout the nation."
Huckabee said the federal government should not be
the sole solution for our energy policy. There is plenty the states
and industry should work toward, including his "Four E" suggestions:
Educating the public.
"Americans must understand the true costs and consequences
of our ever-increasing reliance on imported energy," he said, noting:
- The risk to U.S. servicemen and women who are keeping the world's
sea lanes open so oil can be transported.
- The environmental costs of oil exploration and production in
countries with little or no environmental regulations.
- The contribution to the U.S. trade imbalance from oil imports.
- The enormous impact our oil needs make on foreign policy.
Expansion of research efforts.
"Federal and state resources should be leveraged to
encourage public and private research to recover and more efficiently
find our own reserves," he said. "The systematic demise of our major
domestic oil companies has led to a crisis in research and development.
The billions spent on questionable research into renewable energy
could be better directed to squeezing more oil and gas from our
reservoirs and lowering finding costs.
An important step in that direction is re-examining
federal and state policies on providing incentives for domestic
exploration and production.
"We know that incentives work," he said. "IOGCC studies
have consistently found that correctly designed incentives pay for
themselves many times over. We need to look at expanding marginal
well incentives, coalbed methane incentives and non-conventional
source incentives, such as for tight sands or shale gas.
"We must work to eliminate redundant or unnecessary
federal and state regulation."
Huckabee also advocated accessing additional public
"Specifically, Congress needs to step up to the plate
and allow production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge," he
said. "I hope that all of you will do what you can to encourage
the Senate to take this common sense step."
The United States needs to make wise decisions about
fuel choices and encourage energy efficiency. One step in that effort
is to identify and eliminate regulatory and infrastructure barriers
to the use of the plentiful domestic natural gas reserves.
"I'm convinced we can implement all of these solutions,"
Huckabee said. "I'm also convinced we must do so to plan for the