Top energy executives urged government officials on Monday to get rid of overly burdensome regulations on the oil and gas industry, and open up more federal lands for drilling as part of broad policy recommendations for America's energy future.
The proposal released by the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of leading U.S. companies, also included plans to improve energy efficiency initiatives and support enhanced renewable energy production.
"We need an American competitiveness agenda," said David Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell International, and chairman of Business Roundtable's Energy and Environment Committee. "Energy has to be a fundamental part of that agenda."
Chevron CEO John Watson echoed Cote in his comments, arguing that the lack of a cohesive approach to the nation's newfound abundance of natural resources continues to hinder the industry, as well as the United States' progress toward becoming an energy superpower.
"What's holding us back is the lack of a national strategy," Watson said in a call introducing the plan.
The group of executives stressed that national policy should include tapping resources from more public lands to ensure reliable supplies of energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. As part of that, supporting "critical infrastructure projects," is key, the executives argued, specifically mentioning the multi-billion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline project, currently under review by the State Department. The controversial pipeline would provide the infrastructure needed to shuttle crude oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The group also addressed the issue of regulation and the potential for federal agencies to get involved where states are already managing, especially when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, a controversial practice that has been credited with spurring the recent boom in America's oil and gas production.
The Business Roundtable plan argued federal officials should "respect" the traditional role played by states in regulating energy production, and that over-zealous regulation of practices such as fracking could choke off more oil and gas production, and consequently the related economic benefits.
The group sidestepped a prickly question on natural gas exports, something Dow Chemical CEO and fellow panel member Andrew Liveris has been very vocal against. According to Cote, the group supports a free trade approach and argued that the question of whether or not to export America's natural gas didn't adequately capture the issue at hand.
"We like the idea generally of free trade and think it makes sense, but it is important for a lot of industries in the U.S. to have those low cost raw materials so we haven't been overly specific with what we want to do there," Cote said.