Gas prices in Ohio and across the nation are increasing at a time when Americans can least afford it. The price of oil per barrel recently reached its highest point since September 2008. On Monday, I came to Washington, but left my car at home low on gas. When my wife, Karen went to fill it up, she called me to let me know gas was up to $3.79 a gallon.
In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average retail price for a gallon of gas has gone up more than 74.3 percent from 2009 when gas prices were at $1.83 per gallon. I am concerned that we have not reached the top of the spike yet. Surging gas prices are putting a strain on working families, and as long as our country is dependent on foreign oil, we have no long-term means to ensure affordable energy prices.
The current unrest in the Middle East has yet again highlighted the importance of reducing our nation's dependence on foreign oil. If we continue to kick the can down the road we will only deepen our difficulty in freeing ourselves.
We must support all options available to us including: renewable energy, clean coal, and expanding drilling here at home. Congress needs to implement an all-of-the-above energy plan that capitalizes on our nation's strengths and reduces our dependence.
That's why I signed a letter along with around 50 of my colleagues in the House of Representatives asking President Obama to direct the Department of Interior to lift its de facto moratorium on issuing permits for new oil drilling endeavors. Studies have shown that there are safe methods of drilling which is why the Administration has lifted the ban on off-shore drilling. However, the Administration has issued only 32 shallow water permits and only recently approved five deep water permits.
Additionally, I have signed on as a cosponsor of three pieces of legislation which will stop Washington policies that are driving up gas prices and expand American energy production to help lower costs and create jobs. The three bills are:
* The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, to end the Administration's de facto drilling moratorium with a safe, responsible, transparent approach -- getting thousands of Americans back to work and increasing American energy production to help address rising gasoline prices.
* The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, to require the Department of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia.
* The Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, requires the Administration to move forward on American energy production in areas containing the largest oil and natural gas resources.
Two-and-a-half years ago, we were facing the same high gasoline prices that we are currently experiencing. If we don't take action today we will surely see the same problem arise again a few short years from now. We cannot continue to rely on other nations who do not have our country's best interests in mind.
We must recognize that we need American energy to solve America's energy problem. If the Administration continues to hold back on issuing permits businesses will be unable to harness our natural resources to help our nation solve its energy problem. We need to take advantage of the technological innovations that will help us to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Energy industry experts believe that Ohio has concentrated reserves of Utica shale, an oil-rich layer of rock located below sections of the eight states between Tennessee and New York. Ohio's Utica shale is also believed to be the easiest to extract via a safe hydraulic fracturing process that has been used to recover oil and natural gas from rock formations throughout the United States for decades.
New oil drilling endeavors will create jobs--including possibly new jobs in the state of Ohio. If we take advantage of our shale reserves we will make great progress towards achieving both goals. Using our own natural resources to supply our energy needs and using our own American workers to harvest those natural resources will set us on the right path towards both a more independent energy future and a stronger economy.