It's mid-February and hard to believe Spring Break is right around the corner for many of our kids and families.
But for all of us across East Alabama, the coming spring also means gas prices will likely spike again. That of course brings more pain at the pump during these already tough economic times.
Gas prices are already going up. According to AAA Alabama, the average price of gas is over 30 cents above the average this time last year.
So the rising cost of energy is back in the news. For years this debate in Congress has tracked the rise and fall of energy prices, and with too few common sense solutions ever passed, we're often left with the sense that our energy challenges simply are not being addressed fully enough.
Yet it's a debate we must keep having. Developing countries like China are consuming more of the world's energy reserves, which in turn is pushing up prices. That's why we must find ways to become more energy independent to help stabilize the cost of energy for our families and businesses.
So far, this year the debate has centered on a project out west called the Keystone Pipeline XL. If built I believe this is the type of project that could make a huge difference in helping wean our country off of our dependence on the Middle East for oil and help create new good-paying jobs.
The pipeline would bring more oil into the United States from Canada.
But, as of writing, this project -- which could create thousands of new jobs -- is stuck in limbo in Congress. Let's get it built.
I also hope Congress will fully support another one of this year's hot topics in energy: natural gas exploration. Recent media reports have shown that some American companies have been willing to bring some manufacturing jobs back to America to take advantage of its abundant natural gas resources.
That won't help ease the pain at the pump though. That's why I recently joined with many of my colleagues in asking President Obama's Department of the Interior to develop a real off shore drilling plan, not just a symbolic one. We desperately need to increase our domestic sources of oil ultimately to help keep prices lower.