Bennett spoke to that question as he lauded passage of a new Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act by the Senate, Aug. 2, noting it will "increase domestic energy production, help reduce energy costs and promote national security."
"I support it for economic reasons, environmental reasons and long-term planning reasons," he also noted.
A member of the Senate Republican Energy Working Group, he called the bill, which must now go to the House of Representatives, the "next logical step." The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was enacted about a year ago.
If passed, the bill would not only open up new energy sources, but provide a revenue-sharing provision to benefit conservation efforts and compensate coastal states for related impacts, he said.
The act would open more than 8.3 million acres, or about one eighth the size of the state of Utah, to oil and gas exploration. It calls for nearly one-third of that amount of acreage to be opened on the Outer Continental Shelf for leasing "as soon as practical but no later than one year after the date of enactment."
That makes 1.26 billion barrels of known oil reserve available. The world uses 85 million barrels a day, with one million to spare in current capacity.
"This bill is important, not just for the total amount of oil," Bennett said, "but for the amount of increased capacity it will deliver to world markets."
The Gulf of Mexico is also rich in natural gas reserves, he said. It's estimated there is enough there to heat and cool nearly six million American homes for 15 years.
Since passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, 116,000 new hybrid vehicles have been purchased this year, 120 new coal-based facilities are in the planning stages, and investments are ongoing in new nuclear energy and efficiency standards, he added.
While Davis County reportedly was the first place in the state where a producing oil well was ever drilled, there are currently no producing wells in the county. However, several oil refineries operate in the far southern end of Davis County.