Riddle: Every year the consumption of me goes up. No more of me is created. And yet every year the supply of me increases. What am I?
Solution: The recoverable supplies of oil, natural gas, and coal in the United States.
Ok, so it wasn’t the greatest of riddles, but it highlights an interesting point – thanks to new innovations in exploration and production technology, America’s bounty of domestic energy continues to increase.
A new report released by the Institute for Energy Research reveals the extent of America’s natural riches. North America has 1.79 trillion barrels of recoverable oil – almost twice as much as the combined reserves of OPEC nations! We also have 4.244 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas – enough to provide the U.S. with electricity for 575 years at current rates.
Despite these gaudy numbers, the Obama Administration continues to make the misleading claim that America’s consumption far outstrips its available resources. Indeed, Obama said earlier this year, “The problem is we only have about 2 to 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”
The trick is all in the semantics. As the IER report reveals,
“Proved reserves represent quantities of oil that are known to exist in places where development is already occurring at current economic prices. . . These figures do not, however, account for the massive quantities of oil that exist in areas where development is not permitted to take place or where new technology will add to the reserve base.”
And under Obama, the areas where development is permitted is tiny. Current regulatory barriers only permit production on less than 6 percent of federal lands onshore and 2.2 percent offshore.
The misinformation about the size and scope of America’s energy riches has provided ammunition for lawmakers to argue the need for taxpayer funding for “green” energy. Over the past three years federal subsidies for oil and natural gas has totaled $2.8 billion. By comparison, renewable energy subsidies have nearly tripled, going from $5.1 billion to $14.7 billion. The discrepancy becomes even more apparent when you consider their share of the total energy pie. For instance, solar energy receives more than $775 in taxpayer subsidies per megawatt hour of energy created, while oil and natural gas receive $0.64 per megawatt hour.
Rather than continue to throw good money after bad in trying to prop up green energy programs, Washington should be taking steps to removing the regulatory roadblocks from utilizing the unmatched domestic oil and natural gas resources available. After all, it’s not some unbreakable riddle, it’s just common sense.