A Real Energy Plan
I am continuing my fight to bring immediate and long term relief to the rising price of gas. I have heard from so many North Carolinians that are being hurt every day by the increased burden this puts on your lives. I have put forward a real plan that provides immediate and long term relief and I will be fighting for its passage in the United States Senate.
Everyone agrees we need to fix this growing problem, but there is widespread disagreement on just how to accomplish it. I often hear, "Drill for more oil here at home," "Become less dependent on foreign sources for oil" or "Find alternative sources for energy so we don't have to rely on oil."
All of those suggestions are accurate.
In the future, we may have sources of alternative energy that will power all our needs, burn cleanly and render gasoline obsolete. However, we are years, if not decades, away from a solution of this magnitude. The reality of today's world is that we rely on oil in this country to drive to work, harvest crops, transport goods, fly planes, build roads and heat our homes. We must take serious and responsible actions that provide families and businesses with some near-term relief. That is why I have called on the president to immediately release one third of the supply from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which will immediately provide relief at the pump because of an increased supply of oil available for refinement and will punish the oil speculators who are betting against America. This will not jeopardize national security because the reserve would still contain a 60 day supply.
In addition, I have called on the president to create an Oil and Gas Market Fraud Task Force, which will ensure that energy markets are free from illegal manipulation and corporate corruption. This new Task Force can help restore the confidence of Americans in our oil and gas markets and prevent further harm to our economy.
While we focus on the short-term relief, we must also work towards long-term solutions. Given that the reasons for oil price fluctuation are more complicated than simply supply and demand, I believe our government must have an oil strategy. We need to increase supply by investing at home and increasing or starting environmentally-sound production in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and ANWR. I also helped introduce the Gas Price Reduction Act, which would allow states, including North Carolina, the option to open areas, at least 50 miles offshore, to energy exploration as long as it is safe, clean and not visible from the land. States would be able to receive 37.5 percent of the revenues from oil and gas found off their coasts. This bill also would lift a moratorium on oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West, where experts estimate there is three times the oil that is in Saudi Arabia.
The liberals in Congress like to argue that if we begin drilling in ANWR it will take ten years to realize the increase in supply. If President Clinton hadn't vetoed legislation in 1996 to open 2,000 of the 19.6 million acres in a remote area of Alaska for exploration, our current energy deficit would already be reduced by roughly one million barrels of oil per day. How long must we wait? The time for action is now.
In fact, since Democrats have taken back control of Congress, gas prices have risen by about $2 per gallon. Now, my opponent wants to point fingers, but she should look no further than her friends in Washington who have blocked responsible oil exploration since I was elected and long before.
However, simply having more oil is not the only long-term solution we need for this country's economic stability. It is vital to also lessen demand through technology and conservation. I support further increasing fuel economy standards for all vehicles and providing point-of-sale rebates for hybrid and clean diesel vehicle purchases, which will save millions of barrels of oil per day. I have co-sponsored numerous bills to pursue those goals, including the Clean Energy Investment Act and Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act.
There are clear differences between myself and Mrs. Hagan on the energy issue. Like many politicians, Mrs. Hagan often "talks" about high gas prices but her energy plan does nothing to produce a single barrel of oil or bring the price of gas down a single cent. The one aspect of her plan that seeks to lower the federal gas tax by a few cents has been panned as a gimmick by even Barack Obama. And why is Mrs. Hagan talking about the federal gas tax when North Carolina's state gas tax is one of the highest in the country?
I have a plan that immediately addresses high gas prices and increases energy independence over the long term. Mrs. Hagan's offers nothing but political gimmicks and empty platitudes. Her plan will do nothing to alleviate pain at the pump; the only octane is in her political rhetoric. North Carolinians deserve better.
Thank you for your support and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important issue.