Expanded Drilling May Help Cut Deficit

A new industry-backed report says expanding fossil fuel production and energy efficiency measures could help close the deficit and foster North American energy "self-sufficiency."

The Consumer Energy Alliance, a coalition of oil companies and groups representing energy-consuming industries such as chemical manufacturing and trucking, will release the report later this week.

The report says opening more U.S. and Canadian onshore and offshore lands to drilling could bring in $803 billion in revenue for the federal government and create 1.4 million jobs by 2030.

That, along with demand-reducing technologies such as wind power and biofuels, as well as policies such as vehicle fuel economy standards, would bring North America closer to energy self-sufficiency, it said.

“In order to significantly and effectively lower U.S. imports of overseas crude, the United States must focus on both decreasing the demand for transportation fuels and increasing North American supply of fuel,” the report said.

One of the biggest hurdles to achieving energy self-sufficiency is the ability to tap “undiscovered, technically recoverable oil resources,” the report said. The report cited a 2011 Congressional Research Service report that said 134.5 billion barrels of oil and 1,176.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be locked away in currently unreachable deposits.

“While the production of these resources is technically feasible, economic conditions and other factors may limit how quickly these resources come online,” the report said.