Across our state, gas prices continue to inch up to record levels. The same is happening in states across our country. And while I and others have taken steps to try to lessen the burden for Utahns at the pump, unfortunately we're being fought every step of the way by one of the most anti-American energy administrations in our history.
Utah and neighboring states in the West contain some of the most energy-rich lands in the world. We have a great opportunity to lead the way in producing energy here at home, which means creating jobs in our communities and lower gas prices and home heating costs everywhere. Instead, the administration has shown that when it comes to American energy, it's always a half step forward and 10 steps back.
Days after President Obama announcing in his State of the Union address an "all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy," the administration cut access to federal lands in the West for oil shale development by nearly 75 percent and proposed a 50 percent royalty hike on domestic energy production on public lands.
Whether closing off more federal land to energy production or saying no to the Keystone pipeline, this White House has shown it is more focused on appeasing its extremist ideological allies than putting forward an energy policy that works for Americans everywhere.
But I guess we shouldn't be surprised considering that the president's energy secretary, Steven Chu, has stated that "we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," which are now about $8 to $10 a gallon. Even President Obama stated in 2008 that he would prefer a gradual adjustment to high gasoline prices. Rather than advancing an energy agenda that would spur production, lower prices and create jobs, the president continues to advocate for increased taxes on oil and gas production across the West.
On March 3 last year, the Congressional Research Service concluded that the president's proposals would "make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence." Less than three weeks later, the president told political and business leaders in Brazil that we "want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you're ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers." This is terrible tax policy, terrible energy policy and terrible economic policy.
The president may say no to policies that will lower gas prices, but this past week I joined 31 of my Senate colleagues in urging President Obama to take several immediate steps to lower gas prices. Some of these are things he can do with the stroke of a pen, like expanding access to federal lands, increasing areas for offshore drilling and reducing burdensome regulations imposed by his administration.
Our country relies upon oil and gas because it is dependable, abundant, affordable, and domestic. Unfortunately, the administration does not even seem to share Americans' desire for lower energy prices. And Utahns deserve an energy policy that increases production and creates jobs.
Orrin Hatch is seeking a seventh term in the U.S. Senate representing Utah.