Last week, due in part to political unrest in Libya, the price for a barrel of crude oil climbed over $100 per barrel, and the national average price for a gallon of gasoline rose to $3.47. This is just the latest evidence that America is far too reliant on foreign sources of energy, and that we are in desperate need of a comprehensive national energy strategy.
America can no longer afford to be at the mercy of oil-producing countries, many of whom, like Libya, are experiencing political uprisings that threaten their economic stability. The unrest in Libya has diminished that country's oil production capacity from 1.6 million barrels of oil a day to just 500,000. If disruption in oil production were to occur in Saudi Arabia (8.3 million barrels produced per day), it could have a catastrophic effect on the price of oil.
To address the problem of escalating oil prices, and the United States' continuing reliance on foreign sources of energy, we must have both a short and long-term strategy. Congress should act immediately by passing legislation which I have introduced to give Americans a $500 tax credit ($1,000 for married couples) to soften the blow of higher gas prices.
Congress and the Obama administration must also develop an "all-of-the-above" national energy strategy aimed at reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy. In order to move to true energy independence, we must consider all our options -- and fully developing our own sources of energy must be part of the mix. We should focus on increasing domestic oil production (including environmentally-safe offshore drilling), boosting use of coal-based fuel in military vehicles and jets, and expanding hybrid and advanced electric vehicles. We should also foster the development of renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar. Further, we must revise our regulatory policies to maximize our access to domestic energy sources, while at the same time protecting the environment.
We MUST develop our own comprehensive energy strategy; we can no longer afford to sit back and let other countries determine our future.
It is particularly critical that we deal with our rising energy costs, especially high gas prices, NOW, as to delay action could further weaken an already fragile economy. Even though there are some signs of an economic turnaround, these high gas prices could push us back into an even deeper recession. We must not let that happen. The time for action is now.