Recent Press Releases

Thune Supports Legislation to Expand Domestic Energy Production

--Proposal Seeks to Address Underlying Problem of High Gas Prices--

May 2, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC —  Senator John Thune yesterday joined a host of Senate colleagues in introducing the "Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008" (S. 2958). The legislation would reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy by expanding the recovery and development of traditional energy sources while simultaneously investing in alternative energy technologies.

"Global energy demand is far outpacing supply, and South Dakotans are suffering in the form of high gas prices," said Thune. "Increasing our domestic petroleum output by responsibly expanding exploration in places like northern Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf will reduce our dependence on foreign energy and increase the supply of oil in the market, thus lowering the prices we are all paying at the pump.

"Increasing use of renewable fuels while increasing production of traditional gasoline must be a part of our long-term strategy of energy independence. For too long, some in Congress have hamstrung our energy supply by restricting access to our own resources. Today, South Dakota families are paying the price for this inaction."

To help reduce our nation's dangerous overdependence on foreign sources of oil, the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008 includes the following provisions:

 Exploration and production of oil and gas in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in the northern slope of Alaska

This bill would allow for the environmentally responsible production of oil and gas in 2,000 acres of the 19.5 million acre ANWR. Current estimates show that ANWR holds up to 16 billion barrels of oil reserves.

 Increased production in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)

This bill would allow coastal states the freedom to access oil and gas reserves off their coasts. Approximately 85 percent of the OCS is off limits, which prevents coastal states from accessing 18 billion barrels of oil, or enough oil to offset OPEC imports for 8 years.

 Increased refining capacity

This bill would allow states to opt into a streamlined refinery permitting process without compromising important environmental protections. The U.S. hasn't built a new refinery in over 30 years, and must now import expensive refined gasoline from foreign countries. The lack of refining capacity impacts consumers because existing refineries are operating at near capacity and when a refinery shuts down for preventative maintenance, it causes fuel costs to rise for the consumer.

 Renewable biomass from federal lands

This bill would change the definition of biomass to spur the production of cellulosic ethanol. This change would allow ethanol produced from forest waste to count towards the new Renewable Fuels Standard.

 Oil shale

This bill would lift the Congressionally directed prohibition on oil shale leasing. As the price of oil increases, oil shale extraction has become more economical. Significant reserves of oil shale exist beneath Colorado, Wyoming, and other western states.

 Synthetic fuels

The U.S. has a 250-year supply of coal, and the technology for producing fuel from coal and other feedstocks has existed for decades. This bill would stimulate the production of synthetic fuels that emit fewer greenhouse gases relative to regular gasoline.

"We cannot bring down energy costs without increasing the supply of oil and other resources on the global market. The United States has the energy resources, both traditional and renewable, to have a significant impact on the world's energy supply. The Democrat-led Congress has blocked these proposals in the past and I believe the average American consumer is frustrated by Congress's inaction in addressing this significant challenge."

The Energy Information Administration is currently reviewing this legislation to determine the extent to which these provisions would increase production and lower energy prices.