More Drilling in U.S. is ‘A Problem, Not A Solution’ to Creating Jobs, Says Democrat Member of House Labor Subcommittee

By Nicholas Ballasy | March 18, 2011 | 5:00 AM EDT

( -- Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said that increasing oil drilling “off the coast” is “a problem, not a solution” to creating jobs in the United States.  Andrews recommended that House Republicans bring legislation to the floor if they think more drilling will create jobs.

Appearing at a press conference with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on job creation, Rep. Andrews said, “I agree with my colleague and friend that drilling for oil off the coast is a problem, not a solution, but let’s get back to the main point here that if the Republicans really believe that was really a job-creating idea, why don’t they put it on the floor?”

Andrews, the ranking member of the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee, continued, “I mean, walking into this room and having a discussion about it is one thing, but we’re in the minority. We can’t get our ideas on the floor but they can. So if that’s such a great idea, they ought to do it. I wouldn’t vote for it because I think it’s a poor idea. But it says what they think of the idea if they don’t put it on the floor.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a member of the House Budget Committee, said there would be no “immediate” reduction of gas prices from more drilling.

“We need to be reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and, in general, specifically, we need to reduce our dependence on oil, foreign oil. But adding to our dependence on fossil fuels is not the answer,” she said.

“We need to be taking a long-term view,” she said. “It’s been proven over and over again that there would no immediate return on a reduction in gas prices or a significant expansion of our energy resources by beginning drilling for more oil right now -- and that to me is not the real responsible way to explore creating jobs.”

Wasserman added, “It’s just another example of how they [House Republicans] can have all the press conferences they want but they still have no legislation that would create jobs – not even that.”

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the total proved reserves and technically recoverable amount of oil in the United States, as of 2009, was 164.6 billion barrels.  The United States consumes about 6.8 billion barrels of oil each year (of which about 60 percent is imported).

Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.)

As for natural gas in the United States, the CRS report, using data from the federal Energy Information Administration, shows there are 1,407.4 trillion cubic feet – America consumes 22.74 cubic feet of natural gas per year.

As for coal, the report shows that the United States has a technically recoverable amount of 261 billion short tons; the country consumes about 1 billion short tons per year.

Not counting technological advances in locating new deposits of fossil fuel and discounting any imports from other countries, the United States by itself, given current demand, has at least enough oil for 24 years, enough natural gas for 62 years, and enough coal for 261 years.

Those numbers do not include new deposits of fossil fuels that may be found in the future and as technology advances. Nor do the numbers include the estimated worldwide reserves from selected nations (Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Venezuela), which total 1.3 trillion barrels of oil; 6.6. trillion cubic feet of natural gas; and 930 billion short tons of coal, according to the CRS report.

When those fuels are converted into one source of measurement, such as barrels of oil, says the CRS, then worldwide reserves from those six nations equal 5.7 trillion barrels of oil.

On a related note, potentially recoverable reserves of oil from shale – an expensive and currently cost-prohibitive operation – are estimated to be between 800 billion and 1.38 trillion barrels in the United States alone, according to the CRS report. These recoverable reserves – not counting imports -- could potentially meet current U.S. demand for oil for another 147 years.

Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.