OPINION EDITORIAL – Job creation and energy production is typically a match made in Heaven in Utah and other western states. They are a perfect complement – much like former Jazzmen Karl Malone and John Stockton were in their heyday.
Utah energy companies, for example, create thousands of high-paying jobs. So do their counterparts in other states. Unfortunately, this President – as evidenced by 8-plus percent national unemployment rate for a record 38 months and $4-per-gallon gasoline – fails to understand that relationship and cares little about strengthening it.
Ignorance and apathy is never a good combination, but it is especially dangerous given the fragile nature of our economy. But this Administration apparently doesn’t know that, doesn’t care or both. Even worse, the President and his liberal allies are actually killing jobs and blocking access to our abundant natural resources in Utah and across the nation.
As chairman of the Senate Western Caucus’ Public Lands Committee, I am fighting as hard as I can to stop this. That’s why I, along with Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, have introduced the Western Economic Security Today (WEST) Act, which incorporates several pieces of House-passed bills that were featured prominently in the Jobs Frontier report issued by the U.S. Senate and Congressional Western caucuses last fall.
This legislation would remove this Administration’s regulatory overkill and other roadblocks that are strangling jobs and stifling energy development in the U.S. It would also pave the way for the creation of more jobs, the development of more domestic natural resources and the lowering of energy costs for Utahns and other Americans.
To briefly summarize a few of the highlights, the WEST Act would:
- End confusion and uncertainty in the EPA’s decision-making process for air permits, which is delaying energy exploration in Utah and across America, including in the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf, a project expected to create 50,000 jobs and produce 1 million barrels of oil per day;
- Prohibit the EPA from misusing the Clean Air Act to address climate change by promulgating regulations or taking actions with respect to greenhouse gas;
- Stop the EPA from imposing stricter dust standards for one year and provide states and communities with the opportunity to address any problems before the federal government intervenes. Stricter dust regulations could kill jobs in rural areas of Utah and other states.
- End the White House’s de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in a safe and transparent manner by setting firm time limits on the consideration of permits to drill;
- Require the Administration to promptly proceed with offshore lease sales that it has delayed or canceled in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia; and
- Reverse the President’s ban on offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward with energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources. This could cut our reliance on foreign oil by nearly one-third by 2027.
Look, Utah and neighboring states have abundant natural resources – about 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The same can be said of our nation as a whole – both on land and off shore. But however abundant they may be, resources lying fallow in the ground or off our coasts do no one any good.
Like most other Americans, Utahns understand that. They are tired of this White House being asleep at the switch when it comes to job creation and domestic energy development. They don’t accept artificially high unemployment and gas prices as the new norm. And they won’t abide this President standing in the way of American jobs and the energy they can provide.
If our President refuses to lead, Utah and, in particular, this Utahn will. The WEST Act does precisely that. And if the Administration won’t stand behind it, it should at least have the decency to stand aside.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah