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Supply Component Essential to an Energy Policy

Speaker: U.S. Representative Joe Barton

U.S. Representative Joe Barton told AAPG members that a supply component must be part of any meaningful energy policy — and the U.S. House of Representatives is resolved to pass legislation that will provide the nation with a sound basis for future energy decisions.

"America needs an energy policy," Barton said. "Why? Because we are the world's greatest economy and we run on energy — so we have to have an energy policy and it has to have a supply component.

"Conservation is important," he said, "but we're an economy that wants to continue to grow and sustain economic prosperity, which means a supply component must be part of our energy policy."

Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration is a key part of the supply component in any energy legislation, and Barton said the House is closer to achieving this goal than ever before.

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U.S. Representative Joe Barton told AAPG members that a supply component must be part of any meaningful energy policy — and the U.S. House of Representatives is resolved to pass legislation that will provide the nation with a sound basis for future energy decisions.

"America needs an energy policy," Barton said. "Why? Because we are the world's greatest economy and we run on energy — so we have to have an energy policy and it has to have a supply component.

"Conservation is important," he said, "but we're an economy that wants to continue to grow and sustain economic prosperity, which means a supply component must be part of our energy policy."

Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration is a key part of the supply component in any energy legislation, and Barton said the House is closer to achieving this goal than ever before.

"The people in this room know better than me, but I've been told that the structures indicated on seismic beneath ANWR are the largest ever seen in the continental United States," he said. "The USGS reports that the most likely estimate for recoverable reserves in ANWR is 10 billion barrels of oil. That's an important new supply we must tap.

"Some in the environmental community say ANWR would only amount to a six-month supply. That's poppycock. We produce annually two billion barrels of oil in the United States, so ANWR is five years of existing production. That's a pretty big deal.

"The largest reserves that have been put on the books in the last two or three years was a 300-million-barrel-field in the Gulf of Mexico," he said, "and that pales in comparison to the potential of ANWR."

Barton referred to bank robber Willy Horton, who, when asked why he robbed banks, said because that's where the money is.

"We have to open ANWR because that's where the oil is," Barton said. "The petroleum industry has proven it can produce oil from the North Slope or anywhere in the United States in an environmentally safe manner — you only have to look at the experience at Prudhoe Bay."

The companies operating Prudoe Bay have one of the most stellar environmental records in the world, Barton said, and the animal herds on the North Slope have thrived.

"My son spent one summer working for Arco in Alaska and his primary job was guarding a den of mating foxes," Barton quipped. "Arco paid him a lot of money to guard these animals. That's how committed the petroleum industry is to operating in an environmentally responsible manner."

It's not enough for politicians to extol the virtues of the petroleum industry, however. Barton said industry officials have to tell their story and educate the public on their environmental policies.

"I think you are the environmentalists," he said. "It's estimated that the Fortune 500 energy companies spend about $5 billion a year on environmental protection. This industry has an exemplary record on the environment and you need to talk about what you do and the role you must play in this country's economic future."

Barton said opening ANWR was part of the energy bill that passed the House last August, despite the intense lobbying efforts of the environmental community. The bill's passage in the Senate is unlikely, because several senators have threatened to filibuster any vote on the measure.

"But we don't have to have a vote in the Senate since the bill will go to conference committee," Barton said.

"I'm confident a conference committee will pass an energy bill that includes ANWR," he continued. "Why? Because the American people aren't silly. They understand that we need a comprehensive energy policy and that a supply component must be part of that policy.

"We have a market-based, free enterprise energy industry in America and I, along with everybody in this room, want to keep it that way," he said. "It’s up to all of us to work together to make that happen."

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