Sessions to Obama: drilling is an option

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alabama Rep. Sen. Jeff Sessions is making headlines around the nation for his letter to President Barack Obama, noting he rejected the President’s “defeatist view” regarding high gas prices.

Sessions, a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent his letter in response to Obama’s speech on Thursday addressing rising fuel costs and suggesting the need for alternative fuel sources.

“There are no quick fixes to this problem,” Obama said. “You know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”

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In his letter Sessions said he “respectfully” disagreed with Obama, adding that America has “remarkably vast untapped energy reserves.” Sessions argued that lifting administration barriers to drilling would help drive down prices at the pump.

Sessions listed proposals in his letter, including the thought to restore the bipartisan 2010-2015 offshore lease plan to ensure the 31 pending lease sales are completed while abandoning Obama’s proposal to increase taxes and fees for oil and gas companies.

In 2011, Sessions said the typical U.S. household spent about $4,155 on gasoline, almost 10 percent of their income. Analysts now predict prices may rise to more than $5 per gallon this year.

“I respectfully disagree that we cannot utilize our remarkably vast untapped energy reserves to provide Americans with much-needed relief,” Sessions wrote.

Sessions noted that he felt harnessing “untapped” American oil and gas resources would place pressure on prices, would serve to keep prices low in the future and would provide millions of “good-paying private-sector jobs” to Americans.

“I reject the defeatist view that says the nation that won two world wars, pioneered space travel, and overcame the Soviet Empire is now helpless in the face of high prices at the pump,” Sessions wrote. “We are not at the mercy of dictators, cartels, and events beyond our control.”

House Republicans voted last Thursday to end the ban on drilling along Florida’s west coast. The ending of the ban would open the Gulf of Mexico, along with the Atlantic, Pacific and Artic coastline in Alaska up to drilling.

The bill passed by a 237 to 187 vote and will extend the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf for three years, but will allow exploration on three tracts of land during the next five years.

If the bill were to be passed by Congress, Obama is expected to veto it because of his expressed objection to the drilling provisions in the bill.