Will the U.S. flush another $2.4 trillion down the drain?

That’s how much the U.S. economy will lose over the next two decades by continuing current federal policies that limit drilling for oil and gas on federal lands and the continental shelf, according to an independent study by Science Applications International Corp. and the Gas Technology Institute.

The study was commissioned by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and sponsored in part by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA).

Under current federal policies, production of domestic crude oil will decrease nearly 15 percent annually, the study found, while Americans will be forced to pay $607 billion for the extra 4.1 billion barrels they will have to import from OPEC countries. Even imports of clean-burning natural gas will increase almost 75 percent annually as domestic gas production plummets.

The result will be even more reliance on foreign oil and gas, an increased trade deficit, and the loss of $2.4 in gross national product even though a majority of Americans say they favor expanded domestic drilling and the high-paying jobs the energy sector would provide if the bureaucrats in Washington just got out of the way.

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