Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

GOP House agenda will help unleash Houston's potential

April 25, 2012

Houston Chronicle
GOP House agenda will help unleash Houston's potential

By U.S. Rep. Pete Olson and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy

The American spirit is driving this country's recovery from its longest and most severe economic recession. To further create opportunities for prosperity, there must be immediate solutions to address increasing energy prices that are making it more difficult for American businesses to grow and create jobs. Recently, we had the privilege to meet with Houston business leaders and tour the Houston Ship Channel, which is home to thousands of companies that help power America. The innovation prevalent within these companies ensures that safe, reliable, affordable energy is delivered throughout the country. With its unique infrastructure, technology and knowledge fueling its entrepreneurial spirit, Houston is to energy as Silicon Valley is to technology.

As a critical component to our nation's economy, energy production must be championed, not stymied, by overreaching government policies and regulations. Today, the harmful effects of failed energy policies reverberate throughout the country. For the 38th consecutive month, our nation's unemployment rate remains above 8 percent. Current average gas prices have more than doubled since the day President Obama was inaugurated. As the "Energy Capital of the World," Houston generates power throughout America, much as the heart pumps blood throughout our body. However, federal regulations and moratoriums on energy production threaten our economic growth and energy independence with cardiac arrest.

The president has put himself at the forefront of his war on domestic energy production by personally lobbying the Senate to reject the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline as well as placing an arbitrary drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico supplies a third of our nation's energy needs. Since the moratorium enacted by President Obama began, 11 oil rigs have left the Gulf for foreign waters and three others are sitting idle. That has translated into a loss of 11,500 oil and gas industry jobs and thousands of indirect jobs that support the offshore drilling industry.

These actions represent an energy agenda that fails to appreciate the technological achievements by Houston based energy companies that power this country and generate tens of thousands of jobs. Despite the economic despair that has ensued from these policies, the opportunity to change course is readily available to us.

This path of a pro-growth energy agenda is central to House Republicans and its House Energy Action Team (HEAT) - a group of House members working to develop and promote policies to address rising energy prices, create thousands of good-paying jobs and enhance our national security by promoting energy independence for America. Unlike the policies of the current administration, HEAT is looking to domestic energy production as a driver of this economic recovery, not a burden.

In addition to legislation already passed by the House, we are pursuing a path forward to secure our energy independence and hold Democrats accountable for their failed response to our nation's energy challenges. These new bills will protect our job creators by establishing an interagency committee to conduct analysis on certain Environmental Protection Agency rules, will set deadlines on drilling permits for federal lands and protect our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The current energy agenda of this administration is to pick winners and losers in the industry. Despite the fact that Houston has weathered this economic downturn better than other areas because of limited regulations and pro-growth policies at the state level, Washington has deemed domestic energy production a loser. Under the House Republican agenda, energy-producing cities like Houston are not only recognized for their ability to create jobs and secure our energy independence, their full potential will be unleashed to jump-start a manufacturing renaissance throughout the country.

Olson, a Republican from Sugar Land, represents Texas U.S. House District 22; McCarthy is a Republican congressman from California who serves as majority whip.