Since January 2009, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline has more than doubled -- straining the household budgets of hardworking Southern California families when they fill up at the pump. After all, spikes in gas prices don't just affect the cost of fueling up. Higher prices impact grocery bills, job opportunities, travel plans, and countless other decisions.
As long-term investments in alternative energies are still years from coming online, to deliver immediate relief at the pump, the quickest, most reliable solution is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by encouraging the production of more energy here at home. With twenty-first century technologies and the strictest environmental standards in the world, America can produce and refine more of our own energy right here at home and protect our environment at the same time.
The simple reality is that America has vast unexplored domestic energy sources that can be brought to market in an environmentally friendly manner. In fact, according to a non-partisan Congressional Research Service report, the United States' combined recoverable oil, natural gas and coal resources is 1.3 trillion barrels of oil equivalent -- the largest in the world. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has actively blocked efforts to increase access to these resources which would bring down gas prices, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, and create millions of new jobs.
Last year, the Administration delayed scheduled oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. It also announced more far-reaching offshore drilling restrictions to future energy production along the Pacific Coast, the Atlantic Coast, the Eastern Gulf, and much of Alaska. Furthermore, the EPA has pressed ahead with greenhouse gas regulations that will serve as a national energy tax on struggling American businesses, further hindering economic growth and job creation. At a time when our nation is facing economic hardship, it is unacceptable to increase the cost of energy, ship American jobs overseas, and severely restrict the production of American-made energy.
To relieve the burden of high energy prices on families and small businesses, we need an "all of the above" energy plan that allows for exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; opens new American oil refineries; and invests in clean energy sources such as wind, nuclear, and clean coal technologies. By increasing domestic supplies of energy and increasing refining capacity, we can help drive down the cost of gas, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, and create more American jobs.