Jordan: Congress Must Act Boldly to Address the Energy Crisis
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) today released the following column:
The rising cost of energy affects every family and business in America, whether through increased fuel prices, higher home heating expenses, or more of our family dollar spent on groceries and other necessities.
There are a number of reasons behind today's spike in energy prices, perhaps the most significant of which is the failure of Congress and the President to enact a commonsense energy policy over the past 30 years.
Congress still has time to change course--but short-term, feel-good answers aren't enough. I support a "gas tax holiday" to provide immediate price relief this summer, but more than that must be done in the long term.
By making a few bold decisions to increase our domestic energy supply, we can cut fuel prices while putting our nation on a responsible path toward reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
First, it is important to understand some of the reasons why energy prices are rising--beginning with increased demand for energy both in America and around the world.
The United States has the world's largest economy, and as such, we are the world's largest oil consumer. Despite advances in alternative and renewable fuels, our economy will continue to depend on energy sources like oil, gas, and coal into the foreseeable future. Further, while conservation efforts and technological advances help increase energy efficiency, our nation's energy needs are expected to grow by 40 percent over the next two decades.
Coupled with our increased demand, countries like China and India are also buying a greater share of the world's oil to fuel their rapid economic growth. China's oil needs are expected to triple between now and 2030, adding even more pressure to the world oil market. Growing demand drives up current market prices, and projected increases in demand drive costs up even more through speculation in the futures market.
Congress cannot legislate away the increased world demand for oil, but Congress can allow us to increase our domestic energy supply to help meet future demand. It is critical that we do so--because without a change in U.S. policy, OPEC nations are likely to provide 50 percent of the needed new oil supply, increasing their market share and tightening their grip on the world's economy.
America has enough natural resources in its possession to become independent from Middle Eastern oil, but federal law prevents most of these resources from being recovered because they are under federally protected land or water. Therefore, the first objective in our long-term energy policy should be to increase our own domestic energy supply by opening up more of these areas to energy exploration.
The best-known example of federal law standing in the way of energy independence is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska. Studies suggest that the oil field comprising a small percentage of the 19-million-acre ANWR could provide up to 5 percent of America's oil needs for 25 years. Congress has made several attempts to open the leasing rights to this oil field, but each was defeated under pressure from radical environmentalists.
Congress must also take steps to improve our ability to add more refining capacity in this country. Many ask why it has been decades since a new oil refinery has been built in the United States. The answer is largely due to burdensome environmental regulations that discourage such construction, not to mention exposure to lawsuits from radical environmental interests that oppose any such expansion. We must act to remove these impediments and make refinery expansion a part of our long-term strategy.
Likewise, because our state is uniquely positioned to be a leader in alternative and renewable fuels, pursing these sources also makes sense for Ohio economically. Beyond just corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel, Ohio is on the cutting edge of many market-based areas of research.
A long-term energy policy that expands domestic production and refining capacity will help create good-paying American jobs. These jobs, because they are related to pulling natural resources from under our soil and refining it into a product to be used here, would be among the least likely to be outsourced.
Books have been written about complex issues like energy, but the bottom line is this: had Congress enacted these bold energy policies decades ago, our nation would be in a much stronger position to deal with the situation we face today. Because it didn't, the price of oil is reaching new record highs each week.
I hope Congress and the President will take a new look at some of the commonsense ideas I am supporting to reduce prices by increasing our domestic energy supply and expanding our refining capacity.