Recent spikes in gas prices have reminded us all of the need to move to new technology and wean ourselves off of foreign oil. As you know, record breaking gas prices continue to rise around the country, straining families' budgets and slowing down economic growth. The price of a barrel of oil was around $27 in 2000, $50 in 2005, and is hovering around $100 today. In the face of ever-increasing gas prices, I believe America must take a broad approach that cracks down on unfair price gouging and moves us toward alternative, renewable, domestic sources of energy.
On March 9, 2011, with my colleagues in Congress I filed a bill (H.R. 964, the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act) to lower prices at the pump. This bill will authorize penalties of up to $500 million for large companies selling oil, gasoline, and diesel at excessive prices or taking unfair advantage of circumstances during an international crisis. Relying so heavily on foreign oil is also a risk to national security.
Additionally, I am a cosponsor of the NAT GAS Act, H.R. 1380, which would promote natural gas fuel and vehicles. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 98 percent of the natural gas we consume is produced right here in North America and that the United States has enough natural gas resources to last more than a century.
In addition to focusing on clean, renewable fuels, energy efficiency, and conservation, I believe responsible exploration for oil and natural gas and producing and burning coal in a clean way should be part of a comprehensive solution to our energy crisis. If we act soon, Kentucky can not only be a player in the push to develop alternative energy, but a leader. This emerging market could create thousands of jobs and utilize the innovation and ingenuity of Kentuckians. Our top-notch universities, with their excellent research programs can collaborate with the private sector toward this goal.
I believe we have a duty to be stewards of God's creation and protect Kentucky's beauty for future generations. Our air, land, and water are irreplaceable resources that must be enjoyed and utilized responsibly. Throughout my time in Congress, I have been strong advocate of combating pollution, addressing climate change, and protecting the rolling bluegrass hills, diverse forests, and clear streams and rivers of our Commonwealth.
But I believe that Congress, not the EPA, should address our environmental issues. Bureaucrats in Washington should not be making all of these decisions -- Kentucky needs a seat at the table. As the nation addresses climate change, I believe the best way to benefit Kentucky is to encourage a solution which protects our coal industry while also protecting our clean air and water and maintaining our low cost energy advantage. It is my view that Kentucky would be treated much more fairly with a legislative fix than with one-size-fits-all regulatory action that distinctly lacks any input from Congress. In fact, during negotiations of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, I was able to secure an unprecedented $60 billion for clean coal technology and 30 million additional allowances for rural electric cooperatives.
The Clean Air Act has been highly successful and has improved the health and quality of life for Americans. It has reduced particulate matter and toxic chemicals in the air, slashed acid rain through reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and protected the ozone layer. Maintaining clean air and clean water are absolute necessities. At the same time, we need to support economic growth and a high standard of living.
Given the energy challenges our country faces along with the importance of clean air and clean water, I am committed to making sure we advance a responsible energy policy protecting Kentucky's beautiful natural landscape while providing our homes and businesses with the power they need to preserve our quality of life. Having a reliable, domestic source of energy is vital to our economic well-being and national security.