After winding our way through Houston, the huge Reliant Center, and then getting our credentials, we’re here getting ready for the first session.
Also here at the session are Jim Hoft (heh) from Gateway Pundit, Alan Stuart Carl from Donklephant, McQ from Q and O, Kevin Holtsberry from RedState, Joy McCann of Little Miss Attilla, and Nick Loris from Heritage’s “The Foundry“.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski could not make it to the panel, but did submit a video.
“Domestic energy is under attack,” said Murkowski. “Some here in Washington DC think of the oil and gas industry as an ATM” to pay for government programs.
“We can view [energy production] as a necessity or treat it as a luxury,” she said. She clearly feels that it is a necessity.
Murkowski made the case that energy production in the U.S. is an economic and national security issue, but warned that increasing taxes, regulation, and judicial activism are weakening our national strength. She also noted that the U.S. currently consumes 20% of the world’s oil.
“We’ve gotten used to it being the engine of [Houston’s] economy, but it is also vital to our national security,” said Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee.
Jackson Lee also said that there was a need for fossil fuels, but was quick to point out that exploring “green” energy is very important too. She advocated for more participation from universities, non-profit organizations, and research institutions to add to the debate in Washington, DC.
Additionally, the Texas congresswoman went on a riff about minority women owning energy businesses.
“There is not a productive debate” between environmentalists and those advocating for energy…”but current rhetoric has been unhelpful, unproductive, and we need to find a better way to talk about it,” said Roger Ballentine, Progressive Policy Institute.
Photo by Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit
“As we move forward, it’s important we have a candid and factual-based dialogue,” said Jack Gerard of API. “When the public understands the facts, they will participate in the debate.”
“We have yet to figure out how to haul [loads] over the Rocky Mountains using anything other than a diesel engine,” said Bill Graves, American Trucking Institute.
Jason Grumet, Executive Director, National Council on Energy Policy, feels that the public is not paying attention to the energy debate and doesn’t particularly care that much, except when the price goes up.
Several of the panelists have mentioned that the groups represented need to talk policy, but also noted that partisanship and those at a legislative level need to communicate and get past the barriers that naturally exist.
“The rhetoric is seriously getting in the way of making progress,” said Marvin Odum, Shell. “We’re hearing plenty about green jobs, and that’s important and good, but we have to get away from demonizing oil and gas.”
“We need grassroots involvement in a big way,” said Odum.
Interestingly, Jim May of the Air Transport Association, made the case that there is a natural incentive for industries to be green because of the cost savings associated with it. In his case, the airline industry, which has a huge burn-rate in fuel, is looking for ways to save, which has the added environmental benefit; but higher taxes and regulation sometimes prevents the industry from acquiring more efficient aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 being built in Seattle.
Regarding broadening energy sources, an interesting tidbit came from Rep. Jackson Lee:
“There are not a lot of individuals in the congress that have the stomach to build a nuclear facility,” she said.
There was also a discussion about the infrastructure needs here in the U.S.
We have a desperate need to improve surface infrastructure, said Graves. He discussed how fees and tolls might be necessary to pay for this infrastructure, but if that infrastructure is built, it would actually reduce the need for increased fossil-fuel consumption due to increased efficiency (quicker travel, less traffic jams, etc.)
Somewhat related, a question was asked of the audience, regarding the consumption of transportation fuels. 57% of the audience said taxes should be raised on consumption of transportation fuels in order to encourage efficiency. What’s interesting about that number is that most of the audience is related to the oil and natural gas industry.
Another discussion ensued on federalism.
The panel stated “NIMBY” issues and bureaucracy as holding up further energy development and “citing” issues. In order to ensure efficiency, they did advocate for a strong federal government.
Jackson Lee took the opportunity to discuss President Barack Obama.
“I want to salute our new president,” said Jackson Lee. “He does see crises as a vehicle for problem solving” and we will dramatically change how the American people think about problems and problem-solving.
“America has to become new again,” said Jackson Lee.
Interestingly, though, 61% in this audience felt oil and natural gas would still the energy king 50 years from now.