Due to growing unrest in the Middle East, oil prices have risen to more than $100 a barrel for the first time since October 2008. According to the independent U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas prices have risen nearly 68 cents since this time last year. A rise in oil prices is always difficult, but it is especially harmful to a struggling economy experiencing a nascent recovery. For every penny the price of gas increases, it costs Americans an additional $4 million per day. It is in times like these when we realize that our dependence on foreign oil is not only a national security issue, it is an economic issue that has a tangible affect on our daily lives.
Congress and the President must take steps towards energy independence. In order to insulate ourselves from the volatility of the international energy market, we must take an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy that includes more American produced oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy, along with alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. Taking these steps will lower prices, create new American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our national security and raise revenue to help reduce our $14 trillion national debt.
I encourage the Obama Administration to work with Republicans to tackle this issue, and to stop blocking or delaying new American energy production. During the last congress, House Democrats and the President tried to pass the job-killing Cap and Trade bill, which would increase the cost of energy for everyday Americans and stifle job growth. Further, since this bill failed even to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, the Administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now attempting to impose many of the bill's job-destroying provisions with new burdensome regulations under the Clean Air Act. I find it unconscionable that the Administration would impose regulations making gas and electricity even more expensive at a time when Tennesseans are already struggling.
In order to increase American energy production, provide relief to families at the pump, and create American jobs, I support these three main goals:
* Drilling: The Interior Department is delaying the issuance of shallow and deep water permits, allowing only a handful since the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion last April. According to the Administration's own estimates, this has cost at least 12,000 jobs, and is causing oil rigs to leave the Gulf for foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil and Mexico.
* Production: We need to increase production both offshore and onshore. President Obama has placed the entire Pacific Coast, Atlantic Coast and the Eastern Gulf off-limits to future energy production. The Administration has also imposed regulations that have significantly decreased onshore oil and natural gas production. USGS estimates that the region could hold enough barrels of oil to supply the U.S. with energy for the next 200 years. Finally, the President is stalling the issuance of permits for two pipelines that could provide the U.S. with much needed oil and/or gas: the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
* Less taxes: The President's FY 2012 budget proposal includes more than $60 billion in tax and fees increases on American energy production. These taxes will hurt our economy and will ultimately increase the cost of energy for consumers.
These common sense approaches would decrease the cost of energy use for Americans, create jobs, strengthen our national security and grow our economy. Our nation must develop a comprehensive energy policy and be allowed to utilize our existing natural resources. Tennesseans should not be forced to pay a penny more than necessary for their energy needs because of burdensome, unnecessary regulations imposed by the federal government.