The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Tomorrow Radio: Episode 101 - Energy Discussion at CPAC

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted February 23, 2010

In today's episode, I speak with attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) about the importance of domestic production and exploration of oil and natural gas and how accessing those resources could improve the nation's economy.

Use the audio player below to listen to information about the article and follow along with the show notes. I hope you find the podcast informative.

Show Notes:

00:17 Last week, several of my colleagues and I had the opportunity to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference here in Washington. CPAC, as it's called, showcases elected officials, as well as presidential hopefuls, pundits and well-known personalities.

00:33 This year's conference also featured Energy Tomorrow's educational exhibit, which provides information about oil and natural gas development, as well as the industry's benefits to the U.S. economy. More than 10,000 students, activists and politicians attended this year's CPAC conference, and many of them came through the Energy Tomorrow booth, where the discussion turned from politics to the importance of oil and natural gas to the economy.

01:00 Student Ryan McKee came to CPAC from Anchorage, Alaska. He said the residents of his state have a personal stake in oil production.

01:09 Ryan McKee: We each get a permanent fund dividend check from the oil revenues of anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 each year. So without that it would be very detrimental to our whole economy.

01:20 John Dunham of Brooklyn, New York, said having a secure supply of energy can help to make it affordable.

01:26 John Dunham: Well, as an economist, I know the importance of energy to the economy as a whole and how increases in the price of energy affect inflation throughout all of the sectors that we depend on. So it's important that energy be developed in the most broad-based, least expensive way.

01:44 Greg Wrightstone from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, talked about the importance of developing natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches from New York to West Virginia.

01:54 Greg Wrightstone: The Marcellus is an incredible resource. It looks like it will have between 400 and 500 tcf in reserves, which doesn't mean anything to you until you realize that the largest conventional resource field in the United States is only 81. So this is somewhere five times the size of the largest conventional gas field in the United States, and probably be the second largest gas field in the world.

02:20 And how important do you think it is that we develop our own domestic energy resources?

02:25 Greg Wrightstone: Oh it's incredibly important. If we can stop importing at least 50 percent of our imported oil into the United States, we can decrease our foreign trade imbalance significantly. It's really a national security issue for us.

02:50 Fred Smith, president and founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, had plenty to say about the mood at CPAC and about America's energy issues.

03:00 Fred Smith: There is a populist tendency--the tendency to see, to go after any business and technology. What I'm really discouraged about is that they're angry, but they're not angry at the market, they're angry at the abuse of the market for any capitalism and so on. But there's a real awareness that the market, businesses are the wealth creation part of America, government is the wealth redistributing part of America. You can't redistribute wealth until you create it, so let's get first things first.

03:33 A number of studies have been done that show that if this country had the political will to open more areas to oil and natural gas exploration that we really could give the economy a huge boost. What do you think about that?

03:47 Fred Smith: Well, I was originally in Louisiana and you know the northern Louisiana has shale tight gas formations and now, of course, we find that they're all over the United States. God created an awful lot of fossil fuels and unfortunately politicians and environmental or green groups have blocked us from benefiting from that. Energy--affordable energy--is the key to a world that is not only more free and more wealthy, but also a world that gives opportunities to the people who are denied lights, mobility and the other values that energy gives. Energy is what makes the world move, what makes the world light, what makes it possible to move away from back-breaking labor into the modern labor of today. Energy's behind all that. You make energy harder to acquire, you make the world a much worse place for everyone.

04:47 In your view then, should the United States open up more areas for domestic exploration and production?

04:54 Fred Smith: I think the United States, on the question of what areas should be allocated, should open up everything. I mean, let the states get involved with it, let them decide. In an intermediate measure, let the states decide whether they want to ban it or not. But we're an interstate--the Constitution was an interstate commerce clause--we wouldn't allow small groups to block the flow of any material or relevant of any energy. America was meant to be an economic union. The blockage is really one of the perversions of the American principles, and I hope we move away from it as soon as possible.

05:47 For more information on the benefits of oil and natural gas production, visit