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Getting his start in the energy industry, Congressman Matheson understands firsthand the 21st century energy challenges our nation faces.  He believes that reaching energy independence is a pressing national goal and continued reliance on foreign resources threatens our economic stability and our national security.  To meet this challenge, a comprehensive plan must include both short-term and long-term energy solutions.  In immediate discussions, Congressman Matheson feels that everything has to be on the table, starting with increased domestic exploration and production.  As we look ahead to the energy portfolio of the future, supporting a mix of traditional fossil fuel sources, innovative techniques to extract domestic resources and cutting-edge renewable technologies is critical to meet our country’s expanding need for secure, affordable energy. 

Congressman Matheson has heard often from Utah families about rising gas prices and he has supported multiple efforts to promote energy independence and help lower the price at the pump.  Specifically, he believes in increasing domestic oil production and supporting greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Matheson agrees that clean and renewable energy is something we should strive for, but the bridge to that future must be built using today’s energy sources.

In this Section

Immediate Solutions

By many estimates, the U.S. spends nearly $300 billion annually on imported energy products.  Not only does this dependency on outside sources put our country at a strategic disadvantage, it also prevents an opportunity to invest in domestic workers and infrastructure.  Recognizing the resources and tools we have available in our country today is an important first step in reducing our dependence on foreign supplies.

Keystone XL Pipeline

Congressman Matheson believes the Keystone XL Pipeline should be approved and constructed. After five years the proposed pipeline has undergone several environmental studies, which he has reviewed in detail.  The State Department’s most recent Environmental Impact Statement confirms earlier findings that the pipeline would have no significant environmental impact. Congressman Matheson is a cosponsor of legislation that would move forward on approving the project; the legislation was approved by the House of Representatives.

Oil and Natural Gas

Congressman Matheson supports both onshore and offshore domestic drilling, as a means to meet our growing energy needs.  He has repeatedly voted in Congress to safely expand drilling opportunities in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Alaska and parts of the Atlantic.

Additionally, Congressman Matheson believes that the process for companies seeking to drill for oil and gas onshore should be streamlined and a reasonable timeline for public comment and for approving permits should be established. Matheson has recommended that to address current onshore drilling backlogs a collaborative effort including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies include a plan within one year outlining steps for streamlining oil and gas applications.  Matheson also advocates expanded oil and gas drilling and production on the Outer Continental Shelf and the Gulf of Mexico, with adopted safety recommendations from the BP Oil Spill Commission report.


The U.S. produces more electricity from coal than from any other source. While we must look toward greater use of clean and renewable energy in the future, coal remains the most plentiful and least expensive source of electricity. Congressman Matheson is a co-chair of the bipartisan Coal Caucus in the House, a group which encourages and promotes domestic coal production and utilization as part of a comprehensive energy portfolio.

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power currently makes up approximately 20 percent of our electricity generation nationwide.  Because nuclear power is a clean-burning, carbon emission-free energy source, Congressman Matheson supports exploring options that provide for its future use as a pathway to reducing emissions for future generations. However, it is important that this development should occur together with advances in nuclear waste storage.  Matheson has supported legislation to mitigate the problems associated with nuclear waste and reduce the capital costs of nuclear power through a robust and integrated research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program.

Regulatory Reform

Congressman Matheson believes in these difficult economic times, several energy regulations need to be revisited to include an analysis of the cumulative costs and benefits to consumers, businesses and the economy resulting from their concurrent roll out scheduled in the next couple of years.  To meet this goal, Congressman Matheson introduced, and passed, a common sense bill, HR 2401 - The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011. He has reintroduced the bill again this year. This bipartisan measure establishes a committee, including the Secretaries of Commerce, Energy, Agriculture and the EPA Administrator, to conduct an analysis of regulations and look at the impacts of the proposed rules and regulations on U.S. competitiveness, employment, changes in electricity prices, fuel prices and the reliability of the power supply.  EPA rules and actions to be covered include: air quality standards for ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide; green house gas New Source Performance Standards for refineries and utilities; coal ash; and storm water runoff at construction sites. Many of these rules require retrofits and modifications to equipment in power plants, refineries, manufacturing plants and boilers, among others.

Renewable Fuel Standard

Congressman Matheson, along with Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), introduced legislation to help lower food and gasoline prices for all Americans by repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates a required amount of ethanol be included in our country’s fuel supply. Ethanol is primarily made from corn, and creates competition between its use for fuel and its use for food. Today more than 40% of the U.S. corn crop is being used for fuel instead of feed for livestock or being processed for human foods. This legislation would also help lower prices at the pump. Under the RFS fuel manufacturers have two choices to meet the mandate. They can purchase credits, which have skyrocked in price in the last year, or blend a higher amount of ethanol with gasoline. Higher blends can damage vehicles not built to handle these more concentrated blends. Finally, RFS repeal is good for the environment. According to a 2010 report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) the production of ethanol produces more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline from oil.

Plans for Tomorrow

Natural Gas

The U.S. has substantial reserves of natural gas.  Technological advances have created significant long term opportunities for natural gas to be a large part of our country’s energy portfolio.  Congressman Matheson believes our natural gas reserves should be developed in an environmentally sound manner.  Natural gas could be used as a transportation fuel that will reduce our country’s reliance on foreign oil, and Congressman Matheson supports public policy initiatives to encourage this use.

Oil Shale

The Green River Formation, covering parts of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, has the largest known oil shale deposits in the world, up to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil, of which approximately 800 billion barrels are recoverable.  Oil shale remains an under-utilized domestic energy source largely because of the high cost of oil recovery. Congressman Matheson supports efforts to encourage the responsible production of oil shale as part of a balanced national energy portfolio and in accordance with important environmental safeguards that protect our precious water resources in the West.

Alternative Energy

In addition to utilizing traditional sources of energy like coal, natural gas, and nuclear power we should also develop new, cleaner forms of energy -  including renewable and alternative energy sources.  Congressman Matheson believes we should streamline the regulatory process to encourage renewable energy production on our public lands, which are rich in renewable resources.

Energy Efficiency

Along with increased production, using energy more efficiently is an important part of a comprehensive energy policy. Matheson supports incentives for the manufacture and purchase of environmentally friendly cars, energy saving appliances, and more energy-efficient homes. Matheson is a strong supporter of home weatherization projects and upgrading federal and commercial buildings to be more energy efficient. These efforts create good jobs while also reducing energy bills.

Additionally, Matheson is a founding member of the Green Schools Caucus which promotes energy sustainability in school buildings. In Utah, where education dollars are stretched thin, the energy cost savings in “green” schools benefit the educational bottom line in local districts. On average, energy-efficient schools save $100,000 per year—enough to hire two new teachers, buy 500 new computers or purchase 5000 new textbooks.

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