Like you, I am greatly concerned by skyrocketing energy prices and our nation's increasing dependence on foreign energy sources.
During the summer of 2008, gas prices rose to well over $4 per gallon. This should have been a wakeup call for our nation to put in place a sustainable energy policy, one that developed our own abundant supplies of oil, coal and natural gas. Instead, we have allowed the environmental groups to continue to block all our efforts, furthering our dependence on foreign energy sources which endangers our national security as well.
I support an all-of-the-above energy approach that includes more American produced oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, along with alternative sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. This will lower prices, create new American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our national security, and raise revenue to help tackle our nation's troubling national debt.
There are some immediate steps that our country can take to help alleviate the pain at the pump. First, we need to end the de facto drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico that has been in place since the Deepwater Horizon explosion last year. Just a few weeks ago, the Obama Administration issued its first offshore drilling permit in more than a year. According to the administration's own estimates, the self imposed moratorium has resulted in 12,000 lost jobs. Rigs are actively leaving the Gulf of Mexico for foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico, and production in the Gulf has declined by nearly 300,000 barrels a day since last April. Until the de facto moratorium is fully lifted and permits are properly reviewed and fairly granted, we will continue to see rising energy costs and our dependence on foreign sources will continue.
According to the American Energy Alliance, expanding drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf could create 1.2 million jobs annually across the country and generate $8 trillion in economic output. While we need to increase both offshore and onshore production of our own American energy resources, the president has placed the entire Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast and the Eastern Gulf off-limits to future energy production.
The administration also needs to lift regulations that have significantly decreased onshore oil and natural gas production. The Western U.S. holds more than half of the world's oil shale resources, which can be converted to crude oil using new technology. Estimates show that the region may hold more than 1.5 trillion barrels of oil - six times Saudi Arabia's proven resources - and enough to provide the U.S with energy for the next 200 years.
It is past time to be investing in our own American energy production, not a foreign country's. By tapping our own energy sources, we can help alleviate the pain you are feeling at the pump and lessen our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources. Certainly, we all can remember the summer of 2008 and the higher prices on everything we purchased as a result of higher gas prices. We are headed that way again.