The president made a number of good points about energy, calling for more domestic oiland natural gas and recognizing the tremendous gains in producing energy from shale. But weneed more than pronouncements to secure our energy future. Because most energy projectsrequire years to develop, we need concrete steps now to turn potential energy into reality. Solet’s talk about what can be done and what shouldn’t be done going forward.With us today are API’s Senior Tax Policy Adviser, Brian Johnson, and Chief EconomistJohn Felmy who’ll kick things off with some opening remarks.John?JOHN FELMY: Thank you, Mark. Let’s make a note. (Gives queuing directions.)Good afternoon, everybody. In last week’s State of the Union message, President Obamasaid some good things about domestic oil and natural gas production. He said we need more of it, and he’s right. He also noted the benefits coming from the production of energy from shale,which is great. Now the question is, will the president follow up his own words with action? Now, I know the conventional wisdom in Washington is that you can’t get anything donein an election year. Yet on some key energy issues, the president actually could get a lotaccomplished that would advance his call for more American oil and gas. First, he could changecourse on the Keystone XL pipeline – the biggest shovel-ready infrastructure project around.Approving the Keystone XL would create thousands of jobs and be an important part of a broader energy approach that would make our country more secure.The president could take steps to reverse declining oil and natural gas activity on federallands in the West. A recent study for API showed that numbers of leases, drilling permits andwells are all down since he took office. The fact is, increases in domestic oil and gas are due to production that’s occurring on nonfederal lands. We’re producing more oil and gas in spite of the president’s policies, not because of it. Next, the president could also see to it that more offshore areas are added to the federalgovernment’s five-year drilling lease plan. Until an area appears on that plan, you can’t reallystart developing energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico or the Outer Continental Shelf and other places. We’re talking about a development timeline that can stretch seven to 10 years. So areasoff the coast of Virginia and California, which were omitted from the five-year plan, are probably 12 to 15 years away from production at the earliest.Lastly, the president can restrain the hand of government. Right now, eight differentfederal agencies are considering new natural gas regulations or trying to hold off hydraulicfracturing, the drilling technique that has revolutionized natural gas production in this country.The last thing we need is a federal regulatory blizzard that would chill investment anddevelopment of this valuable resource. And the president could prevent that. He could also endthe call for increased taxes on oil and natural gas companies, which could cause the country jobsand energy, and are, ironically enough, revenues to the government.