COMMENTARY: America’s New Energy Future Must Begin Today

Congressman Diane Black (TN-06)

The pain at the gas pump is back and a lot sooner than expected. By my district office in Murfreesboro, we have watched gas prices climb past $3.30 in some places. Nationally, gas prices have risen 40 cents in the last month thanks to unrest in the Middle East. In a few months, we could see gas prices as high as $4 a gallon, endangering our already fragile economic recovery.

For too long, the United States has lacked a coherent energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, lowers costs and creates American jobs. But instead of leading the way, the Obama administration is limiting our energy options and driving up prices.  The president’s 2012 budget includes over $60 billion in tax increases on American energy production, while the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to impose a job-destroying national energy tax with regulations under the Clean Air Act.  

These policies are making energy more expensive at a time when families and businesses can least afford it.  It is time for a new direction.  Recently, my colleagues in the House unveiled The American Energy Initiative, a movement that seeks to increase access to American-made energy sources while opposing the policies that drive up prices at the pump.  Rooted in the Pledge to America, the effort makes job creation and economic security a priority.  Republicans are ready to take steps today to solve our energy crisis, and create real solutions for the American people.

Soon the House will vote on a bill that would stop the EPA from side-stepping Congress and implementing regulations that would effectively enact a cap and trade energy tax under the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.  This one way the new Congress is acting now to ensure America’s energy future.

But thinking longer term, I support an all-of-the-above approach to energy that includes the use of more domestic resources as well as alternatives like wind and solar. By harnessing America’s energy capabilities, we could lower prices, create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and raise revenue to help tackle the $14 trillion national debt.  

America is the world’s third largest energy producer, yet we are being denied access to our own resources by the current administration.  That’s why Republicans in the House and Senate are calling on the president to end the de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico.  Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion last year, only a handful of drilling permits have been issued.  Oil rigs are leaving the Gulf, taking much-needed jobs and revenue with them.  Some experts estimate that oil production in the region has declined by nearly 300,000 barrels a day since last April. By the administration’s own estimates, the moratorium has resulted in 12,000 lost jobs.

In Alaska, several fields with tremendous potential await exploration, but the Administration continues denying us access to our own oil.  The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that we could be missing out on as much as 1 billion barrels of oil and 53 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from Alaska.  According to other experts, expanding drilling off our coasts could create 1.2 million jobs annually and inject $8 trillion into our economy.

Domestic oil exploration can be a big part of our energy future, but it’s not the only plan we should consider.  We must use all of America’s resources -- as well as renewables where we could see a return on investment -- to reduce costs, create American jobs and stop sending our money to countries who don’t like us very much.  Creating a new energy infrastructure won’t happen overnight, but we must start now.  The more American energy we produce, the stronger we will be as a nation.