2012 began much like 2011 ended, with House Republicans attaching job creating energy projects to “must pass” or essential legislation. Inhibiting domestic energy production at every turn, the Obama Administration’s antagonistic energy policies necessitate legislative remedies.  Included in this year’s Surface Transportation reauthorization are three bills that would unleash America’s job creators, our domestic oil and natural gas producers.

Together, the Alaskan Energy for American Jobs Act, the Energy Security and Transportation Jobs Act, and the PIONEERS Act direct the Secretary of the Interior to sell leases Obama cancelled, advance new offshore energy production, and determine clear rules for the development of oil shale. Without such measures, America’s vast oil and natural gas reserves—and the accompanying jobs, economic activity, and increased energy security—would needlessly remain in limbo.

However, Democrat hyperbole has focused on the importance of infrastructure spending to spur job growth. As three years of failed “stimulus” spending has shown, new spending on transit and pet projects does little to yield economic prosperity. While the bill does endeavor to disassociate these programs from the Trust Fund, a new revenue stream for wasteful infrastructure spending risks effective transportation spending reform. Ultimately, lawmakers should be concerned with saddling positive energy policy with poor transportation initiatives. 

Despite Obama’s State of the Union lip service, his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline, DOI’s draft five-year offshore leasing plan for 2012-2017, and the Gulf’s effective permatorium reveal an Administration actively undermining America’s job creators. Realistic estimates predict that over a million American jobs are waiting to be realized if only Obama would allow oil and natural gas companies to safely develop the billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas America contains.

Although ATR would prefer that revenue from new domestic production be used to cut taxes or pay down our debt, it is almost impossible to imagine a near-term political scenario where this is possible. While the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill threatens to make long-term transportation reform more difficult, the immediate economic gains from energy development are serious proposals worth considering.