The Washington Times - September 30, 2008, 04:42PM

Gas prices are not expected to decrease after the offshore drilling ban disappears, said Brian Kennedy, senior vice president of public affairs for the Institute for Energy Research.  

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“We’re going into the winter months,” Kennedy told attendees Tuesday at a Heritage Foundation luncheon in Washington. “For a lot of different areas of the country or for people forecasting a cold winter, that means higher home heating bills. In addition to higher home heating bills, we’re still going to see gas prices remain high because there is no indication that demand in developing countries that is going to slack off anytime soon.”

He also said prices will not go down because developing countries, such as China and India, need more fuel to keep their production going.

Daniel Simmons, director of state affairs for the Institute for Energy Research, said America needs to develop domestic natural gas production and stop exporting jobs. “The more that we have, the more American production of natural gas — especially because it’s not traded as much as oil — the more those jobs are going to stay in America.”

Simmons said he was excited about the end on the moratorium on offshore drilling, but he cautioned the next challenge is getting over “40 years of anti-energy policy.”

“Our laws in essence were written when people were playing with pet rocks, listening to 8-track tapes and driving Pintos,” Kennedy said. “And our laws, frankly, have not been updated to reflect the kind of technological capabilities that we have today.”

Simmons said the next step to drill offshore is for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to make a five-year plan to lease offshore land. He said after this they will be able to sell the land, and oil companies would be able to start looking for oil in an environmentally friendly way.

The two said they understood the process would be long, due to the process of oil companies and several lawsuits that could come with the ordeal by environmental groups. However, they said they believed drilling will help the economy.

“Economists refer to affordable energy as the lifeblood of an economy for a reason,” Kennedy said. “We could be stimulating our economy greatly, increasing demand for jobs in goods such as plastics computers glass and other kinds of services. The possibilities are limitless.”

Simmons said the Institute for Energy Research is open to hearing about alternative forms of energy; however, he has yet to hear about any effective ideas on the issue. He said there are “incredible amounts of money to be made,” and companies are looking into other forms of energy.

“We have to keep fighting because these are domestic resources,” Simmons said. “They are the American people’s resources, they improve our economy and everyone likes lower priced energy.”

— Christopher Shaver, Washington Times intern