One of the most difficult challenges facing our nation's future is providing clean, affordable, and reliable energy. This growing need requires not only sources of energy, but also an infrastructure which can deal with this demand.
Rural states like Nebraska require an infrastructure which allows us to tap into resources such as wind and hydropower, can efficiently deliver the energy, and can transport energy created within our borders to other areas of the country.
It is simple: unlocking domestic energy resources will make the United States less dependent on foreign oil while helping our economy recover. We need to take the necessary steps to develop all of America's energy resources - both existing and alternative - which will yield more American jobs, more affordable and reliable energy, and economic growth.
Rural areas - like the Third District of Nebraska - have tremendous potential to supply our nation with energy from wind or even small water sources. However, in order to expand our supply, our nation's energy infrastructure must become part of our overall energy strategy. Improvements to infrastructure mean more than just putting up wires. Having a working, efficient, and reliable energy infrastructure will help connect rural America with urban and global economic opportunities, while at the same time freeing ourselves from our reliance on foreign sources of energy.
Nebraska has benefited from clean, renewable, and affordable hydropower, and we have the potential to produce more. While most think of hydropower as a resource requiring a massive dam, smaller hydropower projects offer tremendous opportunity. By focusing attention on canals and laterals as potential energy sources we would help not only our irrigators but also make hydropower an even more viable option for rural consumers.
Rural America also has tremendous wind potential. Unfortunately our wind energy infrastructure faces significant challenges - including research and development into turbine technology, improving our forecasting capability, improving our ability to store the energy created, and most importantly the expansion of transmission systems to deliver wind power from its sources to centers of population.
Nebraska ranks sixth in wind energy potential, but we do not have the transmission lines to move this power to where it is needed. We need to have the ability to create energy in one part of the country and use it in another without significant loss in either efficiency or usability.
As a member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power as well as the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Caucus, I have the opportunity to oversee the deliberation and implementation of policy for more affordable, diverse, and reliable sources of electricity and the infrastructure necessary for its implementation.
Late last year, the House of Representatives passed the Wind Energy Research and Development Act, which included a provision I authored to encourage research and development into ways to efficiently and cost-effectively create high-voltage transmission for renewable energy.
As I have said before, America needs a comprehensive national energy plan, not a debilitating national energy tax under the guise of "cap-and-trade" - a misguided policy which is still being considered in Washington.
An all-of-the-above approach to our energy policy - one which includes offshore oil and gas production as well as the advancement of alternative sources of energy such as wind and hydropower - needs to be on the table.
In order to become truly energy independent, we must invest in the necessary infrastructure to transport the energy created from one area of the country to another. We need to make the best use of our energy resources, a process which will benefit rural areas tremendously.