While debating the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA) on the House floor in June, Michigan Republican Fred Upton called the legislation a “win-win.” You might assume that the winning going on would benefit the American people, but as California Democrat Henry Waxman warned, H.R. 4480 is a Trojan horse. While the DEJA claims to be about creating jobs and lowering gas prices, the bill’s real goal is to dismantle the country’s environmental policies.
Passed in June in the House, and currently in the Senate, the seven bills that make up the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act would be devastating to the environment. The radical package of bills aims to increase the land available for oil and gas drilling and dismantle the core of the existing Clean Air Act. (You can read what the seven bills are, and who introduced them here.) A staggering 248 House members voted for the DEJA, touting it as the solution for hard economic times. Here’s how they argued for its passage, and why they’re wrong.
1. The bill will “lower future prices at the pump.” — Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
Representative Upton iterated on the House floor what all those in favor of the bill have said: if you pass this bill, gasoline will be cheaper. According to these representatives, the DEJA will do this by increasing domestic oil drilling.
One component of the DEJA, the Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act, would require the Secretary of the Interior to open 25 percent of the land nominated for drilling up for lease each year. Another one of the bills, the Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act, would require most drilling permits be deemed automatically approved after a sixty-day deadline. And the particularly absurd Strategic Energy Production Act, another bill in the package, would require that if a percentage of the oil supply in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is removed, the same percentage of federal land must be opened for oil and gas exploration and production.
But as Democratic Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania pointed out on the House floor, domestic oil production is currently at an eight-year high. The number of oilrigs in the country has quadrupled under Obama, and US oil imports are at a seventeen-year low.
So why are oil and gas prices still rising? Because drilling more isn’t the answer. Even though US oil production is up and consumption is down, global demand for oil is continues to rise. Dean Baker, macroeconomist and co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explains that even if US oil production could be upped by a third, which is almost impossible, the world supply would only increase by 3 percent, lowering the price of oil by 7 or 8 percent. “This is not trivial, but it is not the difference between $2 a gallon gas and $4 a gallon gas,” Baker writes. “In other words, there is nothing that the United States can do in terms of its domestic production that would bring gas prices down to the levels that would make many American car owners happy.”