By Congressman Peter Roskam
Americans have weathered one economic storm after another over the last few years. Yet, time and again, Washington policies have only made our families' woes worse. From a failed trillion dollar stimulus to a healthcare overhaul that costs jobs and makes healthcare more expensive, Washington policies keep making it harder when Americans need the help most.
The latest: gas. Just as our economy is showing signs of recovery, gas prices are skyrocketing. In Chicagoland, a gallon of gas already costs over $4.50. That means pain for family budgets and employers trying to control costs and hire new workers. But smart federal policies can help. If we choose wisely, we can help lower energy costs for families with an all-of-the-above energy approach.
Taking advantage of America's natural resources is a commonsense way to lower gas prices, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs here. Unfortunately, many refuse to listen to commonsense.
By actively blocking and delaying American energy production, the White House's energy policy has caused gas prices to spike, jobs to be lost, and made the U.S. more reliant on unstable foreign energy.
So far, 10% of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been moved to foreign production. Each rig supports hundreds, even thousands, of jobs -- jobs that may never return again. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil production in the Gulf has declined by almost 300,000 barrels per day since April 2010, and domestic oil production will fall by a full 13% this year. That's strong proof that these policies decrease the production of domestic energy, destroying jobs and increasing the cost of gas.
What's worse, Illinois already suffers from the third highest gas taxes in the entire nation. Sixty-nine cents of the cost of every gallon of gas in the Land of Lincoln is taxes.
House Republicans, however, are taking action to ease the pain of high gas prices.
Last week, a bill that resumes offshore lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the Gulf of Mexico that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. It directly addresses policies that have caused that drop in production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Over the next week, House Republicans will pass two more bills that would further boost American energy production. The first, requiring the Secretary of the Interior to act on Gulf drilling permit applications within 30 days, would end the uncertainty causing rigs to leave and energy companies to close. The second, compelling the White House to establish a five year offshore lease plan, would hopefully result in the additional production of three millions barrels a day within 16 years.
These are steps that would increase energy production, decrease gas prices, and create more jobs.
These initiatives and more are being advocated for by the House Energy Action Team (H.E.A.T.) -- a group of Members of Congress working to lower gas prices, make America energy independent, and create jobs.
Surely these bills won't cure every problem -- but they are an important first step in reducing costs and making us more energy independent. The only way we can achieve that is through an all-of-the-above energy approach, including utilizing resources here.
Washington has an opportunity to do the sensible thing with energy policy. We need Democrats to join us and the American people. Let's make energy policy the exception to the rule of Washington's missteps the last few years.