Safe oil supply key to policy

The U.S. energy problems are multi-faceted but it is primarily based on the basic principle of supply and demand, a U.S. legislator says.

“Simply put in order to get energy prices down, we have to deal with supply issue and it has to be a reliable supply so it is matter of producing more energy in our country, particularly on public lands,” Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday in his weekly media teleconference. “The president can talk about more oil and gas being produced — that is the private sector — and the government is not making it easier, he (President Barack Obama) is making it harder by keeping public lands from being developed.”

Portman noted oil production from wells on public lands dropped 14 percent last year.

He also criticized President Barack Obama for announcing Wednesday and again Thursday in Ohio that a section of the Keystone XL pipeline should be placed on a fast-track for approval when the entire pipeline is needed. The section is a southern part of the line in Oklahoma, not where the oil is located along the northern part of the pipeline in North Dakota and where it extends into Canada.

The 1,170-mile Keystone XL pipeline, a project of the Canadian firm TransCanada, would bring oil from Canadian tar sands and oil from North Dakota to Texas refineries. Obama announced he was pushing federal agencies to expedite a 471-mile southern segment of the line from Cushing, Okla. to refineries along Texas’ Gulf Coast.

“He (Obama) continues to reject moving ahead with the pipeline which would be a great signal to our country that we are serious about energy production in our country, but also it would be from a reliable source such as Canada as compared to the more dangerous and volatile parts of the world like the Mideast that we are relying now,” Portman said. “One reason you see these big gas price increases is the same reason we saw it go up last year with Libya and this year with Iran and the sanctions and the fear of what might happen.”

“We need to get less reliant on foreign oil, produce our own, reduce demand and that will help with the oil price,” he said.

Portman favors the Keystone XL’s development.

“I think this is a win-win for us, both because of the stable supply of oil and — by the way it also picks up a lot of oil from the Bakkin, the big shale find in North Dakota — but it also is good for jobs,” Portman said. “It also helps create jobs in Ohio because we make things that go into pipelines.”

He commented TransCanada officials have made it clear that if the United States does not purchase the oil, they are more likely to export the supply to China.

Obama and members at his administration advise against moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline is because the pipeline traverses near an aquifer in Nebraska.

“Unfortunately, Congress decided they wanted their own timeline,” Obama said. “Not the company, not the experts, but members of Congress who decided this might be a fun political issue decided to try to intervene and make it impossible for us to make an informed decision.”

Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the company welcomed Obama’s support for the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the pipeline but couldn’t say whether his involvement would impact the timeline for completing the project.

Construction is expected to begin in June with completion next year.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.