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Striving for Energy Independence

Op-Ed

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STRIVING FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

As we approach the height of the summer travel season, families must factor in a much higher cost for gasoline. It is becoming evident that many families are being forced to either cancel their summer travel plans or at the very least limit much of their activity to an area closer to home. With every passing day, as gasoline surpasses $4 a gallon, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil grows more and more apparent.

While there is no easy fix to rising gasoline prices, we must focus our efforts on developing a comprehensive solution to increasing energy supplies and encouraging cleaner, more efficient energy use. Our reliance on imported energy did not come about overnight, and it will take time to reverse. Many Americans don't know that the U.S. is the world's largest energy producer. Over the past 25 years we have pumped 67 billion barrels of oil, and strong reserves remain. The fact is the oil is there - in Alaska, the Rockies, and offshore - but political roadblocks keep it in the ground instead of in your gas tank.

I am a strong supporter of legislation which would modernize the nation's energy policy by tapping into more of our massive energy resources located in the deep seas on the outer-continental shelf (OCS). This important legislation gives coastal states the power to decide if they would like to pursue energy production 50 miles off the coast of their state, and gives the federal government the ability to produce energy 100 miles off coastal lands. The legislation also makes the U.S. competitive in the global development of energy sources. Currently, the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that forbids safe energy production on its OCS, a fact that has put us at a severe disadvantage in the global marketplace.

Additionally, I am a strong supporter of and have many times votes for legislation that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR, to energy exploration. According to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, ANWR holds between 5.7 and 16 billion barrels of recoverable reserves, potentially producing nearly a million barrels of oil a day. Exploration and development in ANWR would open only 2,000 of the 19 million acres of the refuge, or the equivalent of an area one-fifth the size of Dulles Airport in an area the size of South Carolina.

In addition to environmentally sound oil and natural gas production, we must expand production of electricity for nuclear power. We must also increase the performance of existing renewable research and focus on those areas that offer the greatest ability to tap or expand these new sources of energy. It is only through a comprehensive energy policy based on exploration, innovation, and conservation, that we can grow our economy, create quality jobs, and make America stronger.


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