Good afternoon. Because so much has happened in the past few weeks, I wanted to take time today to update you on what I've been working on in Congress.
The success of Navy Seal Team Six in Abbottabad, Pakistan last week was a victory for America and brought an evil and cowardly terrorist to justice. This flawless operation sent a clear message to the rest of the world: If you attack the United States, there is no place on earth where you can hide. In the end, justice will prevail.
With the turmoil continuing in Libya as well, it should be clear to all Americans that our dangerous dependence on unstable foreign oil supplies is affecting everyone at the pump and hurting our economy.
How much did you pay for gasoline this week? In California, the average price for regular grade was over $4.35 a gallon. The sad fact is that as long as we are reliant on other countries for much of our energy supplies, we remain extremely vulnerable to price spikes due to unforeseen world events and the whims of hostile regimes. We saw prices start to go up almost as soon as the first protests broke out in Tunisia, and the problem has only gotten worse since then.
This week, the House of Representatives took a major first step to increase domestic oil and gas production, a move that will put us on a safer and more secure path to energy security. The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (H.R. 1230) would require the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, where state governments say they would welcome the increased economic activity. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President, this legislation would create American jobs and help revitalize the economy, while raising revenues we can use to help address our staggering deficit.
According to the non-partisan U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall by 240,000 barrels per day in 2011. The bill we passed on Thursday would free up American energy from the cumbersome delays and cancellations that have come to characterize the Obama Administration's tentative approach to energy policy.
Increasing domestic oil production would be a significant boon to local economies, as well as the U.S. Treasury's bottom line. With oil trading at its current price per barrel, we are forfeiting as much as $1.7 billion in tax revenue this year alone.
This week, I sent a letter to the President underscoring the need for an "all-of-the-above" approach to our national energy policy, strongly urging him to show more leadership on an issue that is such a critical component of our economy. Clearly, we need to develop the vast resources we have right here at home. The Gulf of Mexico now supplies one-third of our domestically produced oil, yet drilling rigs sit stagnant, collecting rust, another casualty of indecision and inaction. In addition to oil, natural gas is a clean, abundant American energy resource that remains woefully under-utilized.
Finally, it is important to remember: We don't face a shortage of American energy; we face a surplus of government regulations. This is a critically important fact that I keep hammering home to the White House. I would appreciate any feedback you have on my letter to the President, which appears below.