Op-Ed: Energy Independence Calls For Broad Array Of Sources
Almost two years ago, I embarked on a unique journey through my district in north-central Minnesota. I met with families and business owners to discuss the pressing issue that summer: the rising cost of energy. I heard the people say they wanted solutions that would solve this ongoing crisis, yet a year and a half later, America is no closer to energy independence. Quietly, gas prices rose almost a whole dollar per gallon in the past year and innovation remains slow and cumbersome. In 2008, I supported the American Energy Act introduced by House Republicans as an "all-of-the-above" solution that includes alternative energy development, and yes, even domestic drilling, as the way forward to a safer, cheaper and greener America. Unfortunately, many in the Democratic majority oppose these common-sense solutions and continue to tout their cap-and-trade national energy tax as the saving grace of what has so far been a failed domestic policy agenda. However, this plan will pummel further our already struggling economy by capping job growth and trading energy independence for a continued reliance on foreign energy resources. In fact, this cap-and-trade bill is so damaging to the United States economy, the Senate wouldn't even consider it with Democrats' 60-vote supermajority.
But, where Congress falls short, there is still the Environmental Protection Agency to pick up the pieces. As the (over)regulatory agency for our natural resources, the EPA issued an "Endangerment Ruling" late last year that unilaterally declared carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant under the Clean Air Act that must be regulated by the EPA. Suddenly carbon dioxide became such an endangerment to public health that it needed to be regulated by an agency of unelected appointees. Agency regulation to circumvent legislation is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind for our republic. But with this administration, it's not unusual either.
For example, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement last March stating that his department would "assign a high priority to identifying renewable energy zones" to expedite the permitting process and allow development and green job growth to begin. As of January 2010, the department has not issued a single permit for renewable energy, has only allocated 10 percent of the $3 billion dollars of "stimulus" funds for innovation and development, and has not provided concrete evidence of job creation.
Every step of the way, President Barack Obama has used bureaucratic red tape to further his out of touch liberal energy policy and has used agency heads to break his promises for him. With federal agencies and countless House and Senate committees issuing findings and guidelines, instead of issuing permits or stimulus money, President Obama could postpone real energy independence and development indefinitely.
This is not what America wants, and more importantly, this is not what America needs. We have 10 percent unemployment, a fragile economy and rising tension in foreign energy regions. The president's own budget office has estimated that cap-and-trade will cost an average family over $1,700 a year. Skyrocketing energy prices are the final nails in the coffin of economic recovery. But energy independence is more than just "drill, baby, drill" or one-size-fits-all cap-and-trade policies. It's a balance of fiscal prudence, national security and environmental protection.
Republicans expect American innovation to develop new technologies, and we know America's entrepreneurial character will always endure despite inevitable failures along the way. Democrats on the other hand are focused on tried and failed European policies. Republicans support the courage to think outside the box because the box is riddled with fees, royalties and regulation. Democrats see tax opportunities in every new idea.
America's priorities are American jobs, energy independence and utilization of our natural resources safely and effectively. The American Energy Act promotes domestic resources like nuclear, solar, wind, clean coal and hydroelectric power coupled with onshore and offshore exploration. The same spirit that lit up a country with light bulbs, connected the world with the Internet and put a man on the moon will bring about an energy renaissance within our own borders and own lifetimes. That is, if we let it.
President Obama said we needed to make "tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development" in his State of the Union address. The way I see it there are two options: He can decide to move the country forward by cutting the red tape for energy development, designating tax cuts for entrepreneurs and allowing safe exploration of our country's bountiful resources, or he can continue down the path of cap-and-trade, which ensures that Americans will pay more for energy from hostile regions of the world while our jobs and ideas are shipped overseas.
Frankly, the decision is not that tough.