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EXPANDing American Energy Independence
By: Congressman Jeff Duncan
web posted April 20, 2012
GUEST OPINION - As the national average
price for a gallon
of gas creeps towards $4.00, millions of Americans are struggling to
make ends meet. Every day I hear from people who share stories about
how high gas prices are impacting their lives, families, and
businesses. I've heard from grandparents who once refused to miss a
Little League game or a dance recital, now having to stay at home
because of the price of gasoline.
Several small business owners have told me that they're struggling over
whether they can afford to hire new workers because of the impact of
fuel costs on their bottom line.
The impact on families is alarming as well, with the average American
family spending over $200 more per month for gasoline in 2012 versus
2009. This indicator shows that while average family incomes have
remained flat in recent years, gas prices have increased over 110%
since President Obama took office. These skyrocketing costs are pushing
many families towards the financial breaking point.
In 2008, our current US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said "Somehow we
have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in
Europe." Last month, when Secretary Chu was asked about his job
performance in regards to controlling the price of fuel, he replied
that he would give himself better than an "A-".
With all due respect to the Secretary of Energy, the American people
don't grade on a curve, and they would say he deserves an "F."
To be fair, there is some debate over how much a President or his
Administration can do to control the price of oil. However, I would
argue that there is a lot this President could do, but simply chooses
not to do.
President Obama likes to boast about the amount of oil production
happening under his watch. Although the President correctly
states that on land production is at an all time high, he fails to
mention two important truths. While the President revels in production
levels created under the Bush Administration, the majority of
production is occurring on state and private lands that are not subject
to Federal regulation. Meanwhile, production levels on Federal lands
and on the outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is at an all time low.
The President has not said he wanted to lessen our dependence on
Foreign or Middle Eastern oil, he has stated (as he did recently in the
Keystone XL Pipeline statement) that he wants to end our dependence on
"oil," period. This mindset has cost American taxpayers millions
of dollars that have gone to politically connected companies like
Solyndra, who have since gone belly up.
When I took office 15 months ago, I knew that working towards American
energy security must be a top priority for our nation. I have
worked with my colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee to
pass several pieces of legislation to ease gas prices by increasing
domestic production in a variety of ways. Although several of those
bills work towards achieving American energy independence, I wanted to
introduce a bill that took a more comprehensive approach.
America needs legislation that expands economic growth, expands private
sector jobs, and expands our access to American sources of energy. That
is why I introduced H.R. 4301, the Energy eXploration and Production to
Achieve National Demand (EXPAND) Act. This bill allows more offshore
drilling for oil and natural gas in the OCS, opens up 3% of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for production, approves the Keystone
XL pipeline, opens Yucca Mountain for receiving nuclear waste, sunsets
energy production tax credits, and eliminates ethanol mandates.
This bill also expedites the permitting process for wind, solar,
geothermal and other renewable sources to lease and produce on public
The EXPAND Act creates a free-market, all-of-the above energy policy
for our country. I want to see all energy forms thrive, but we
cannot continue to shell out corporate welfare to the well-connected
political donors of the President instead of allowing the most
productive companies to be successful on their own. The government
shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers on Wall
Street, so why should the government pick winners or losers when it
comes to energy?
When the free market is allowed to flourish, the successes will be
genuine, and the result will be a prosperous, safe, and energy
independent nation. We are one of the only countries in the world
that refuses to develop its own natural resources, and that policy has
to stop now. There can be no national security without having energy
security. Our reliance on hostile foreign powers for oil must end. Our
quest for American energy independence begins now.
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