Our nation is at a critical crossroad in our energy policy. We can continue to depend on foreign countries for our energy needs, or we can turn to our own vast resources for alternative energy that can make our country safer and healthier. I have introduced energy legislation that would take this second path to become energy independent.
I introduced the Freedom through Renewable Energy Expansion (FREE) Act in the 109th Congress and again at the beginning of the current Congress. The FREE Act addresses the issue of energy independence in part by using our nation's tax code to promote the production of renewable energy. As a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, I plan to make sure that any energy-related tax subsidies that Congress passes will spur the development of clean, renewable energy sources that can help make the nation FREE from foreign oil.
The FREE Act would repeal current tax incentives that subsidize the oil, gas and nuclear industries. America needs to move away from relying on polluting energy sources that contribute to global warming. And rather than spending billions of dollars to underwrite new nuclear power plants when there is no place to store the waste, we should be investing in clean forms of energy that do not produce deadly radioactive garbage that will be dangerous for 300,000 years or more.
Legislating smart tax policy, however, is not the only way that we can achieve energy independence. We must also promote energy conservation and efficiency measures if we want to protect our national security interests and decrease our carbon emissions. I support raising fuel economy standards so that we can limit the harmful carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
While I support the use of domestic energy resources in order to move away from foreign oil, I am opposed to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration. The Refuge is a unique environment, home to grizzly bears, polar bears, and hundreds of thousands of caribou. Exposing this national treasure to oil drilling is unwise policy. The most credible estimates indicate that drilling in ANWR would result in about 3.2 billion barrels of oil, less than what Americans consume in six months. Other alternatives exist to meet this demand, including increased conservation and technological innovation.
The United States needs to develop an energy policy that meets our growing needs while balancing them with both environmental concerns and our national security interests. This means developing alternative energy sources, promoting conservation and energy efficiency, and continuing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.