WASHINGTON – Senate Republican leadership has selected U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to chair a Republican Conference energy hearing tomorrow that will focus on increasing production of American energy and reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Sessions, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, plans to use the forum to question experts on steps the United States should take to increase production of oil and gas, reduce oil imports, and stabilize consumer prices.
Sessions has pushed for a comprehensive national energy plan that includes more production of American energy.
“Our growing dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. It represents the largest transfer of wealth in history, and it leaves us too vulnerable to foreign nations, some of which are hostile to American interests,” Sessions said. “It is time that we commit ourselves to a national plan that would boost production of clean American energy, lower prices, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”
The United States, now 60 percent dependent on foreign oil, currently sends more than $700 billion overseas each year in the form of oil payments.
“New technologies such as cellulosic ethanol and plug-in electric hybrids have the potential to be long-term alternatives to oil, but the simple truth is that these technologies are years away from making a significant dent in our oil consumption,” Sessions said. “In the meantime, we need to take the commonsense step of producing more oil and gas here at home.”
A Congressional moratorium currently blocks production of oil and gas on nearly 86 percent of America’s offshore lands. The moratorium, in place since 1982, prevents the production of more than 14 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
A separate prohibition blocks production of oil shale, a fine-grained mineral deposit that can be converted into a number of usable fuels, including gasoline. Oil shale reserves in the western U.S. are estimated to hold the equivalent of 800 billion to 2 trillion barrels of oil.
“We have vast amounts of oil and gas on our outer continental shelf and huge oil shale reserves in the West,” Sessions said. “Making them available for environmentally safe production will bring additional reserves to the market, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and add new investment to benefit American firms, workers, and communities.”
The hearing, titled “Find More, Use Less: Expand Offshore Energy Production,” will take place in room 485 of the Senate Russell Office Building at 10:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, September 18.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) will serve as co-chair of the hearing.