As Congress continues working to address the serious economic crisis facing our nation, we must not forget that when we continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to purchase foreign oil every year it is a major contributor to this crisis and economic down turn. In fact, it is estimated that the United States drains away $700 billion a year on foreign oil. Ironically, this is the same amount of funding the Administration claims is needed to rescue our struggling financial institutions. Congress must take action to make our country energy independent, preventing this issue from continuing to threaten our economic security.
For every three barrels of oil our nation consumes, more then two are imported from other nations - much of it from regimes that don't share our values or our vision for the world's future. Last year the United States imported 2.2 billion barrels of oil from OPEC countries like Venezuela, Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia. With oil hovering over $100 a barrel that means the U.S. sent approximately $220 billion overseas to these countries alone.
Abundant and affordable energy and energy conservation are the keys to a strong economy. Until alternative fuel technology becomes more affordable and convenient, our cars, our jobs, and our economic growth will run on traditional energy sources, like oil, natural gas and clean burning coal. We must encourage environmentally sound ways to find and use more of these resources in our own country.
I am pleased to be a cosponsor of the American Energy Act, legislation that promotes the development of all our energy resources. The American Energy Act is an All of the Above' strategy aimed at lowering gas prices and liberating America from its dependence on foreign oil. The hundreds of billions of dollars we send out of our country to buy foreign oil is sapping the strength of our economy and must be stopped. The American Energy Act will help create millions of American jobs and will move our nation toward independence from foreign sources of energy.
Specifically, the legislation lifts the moratorium on drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf. Estimates indicate that 3 million barrels a day will be produced. It opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, potentially producing another million barrels of oil a day. It opens to development the oil shale in the Rocky Mountain states, which may be the largest oil deposits in the world, assuring a reliable domestic source as we transition to alternative sources of energy. It encourages diversification of our energy supplies with alternative sources, including renewable fuels and wind, solar and hydrogen power and encourages the production of more nuclear power which provides CO2 emission-free energy. Finally, the legislation reduces the bureaucratic red tape that currently exists and has prevented the construction of new oil refineries since the late 1970s.
Our inability to set a national energy policy is affecting all Americans and sucking the lifeblood out of our economy. It is a major long term contributor to the economic instability we are currently experiencing. I will continue to support a change to new policies that will encourage promotion of exploration, innovation, and conservation and lower energy prices for consumers, which will make America stronger.