By Rick Santorum
Ordinary Americans have been hit hard by rising gas prices. The vast middle of America doesn't have chauffeur-driven limousines or multiple cars on different coasts -- and $4 a gallon gasoline means cutbacks and making hard family decisions around the kitchen table.
The real question many Americans have is - what has President Obama done to help ordinary Americans at the gas pump? The answer is: Nothing. In fact, he has helped raise gas prices through his policies of "no, no, and no." No drilling. No hydrofracturing. No Keystone XL pipeline.
After the BP oil spill in April 2010, the president's reaction was to stop drilling in the Gulf. Jobs were lost, the economy suffered, gas prices spiked. That moratorium was not lifted until October 2010. Since then, the pace of deep water permits approval has been almost 30 percent slower than it was at the beginning of 2010.
Currently, there are 11 fewer rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico than before the spill and production hasn't recovered. It takes three months to approve an offshore drilling plan under this President, whereas it used to take less than two. In 2012 the Interior Department approved 23 percent of proposed drilling plans submitted, compared with over 70 percent before the spill.
This has devastated the economies of Mississippi and Alabama, whose citizens benefit from oil and gas exploration. Mississippi has an unemployment rate of 10.4 percent, Alabama's stands at 8.1 percent. Both are far too high.
You'd think the unemployment rate alone would be motivation for President Obama to want energy exploration expansion -- but instead, President Obama refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to our refineries in the Gulf of Mexico to make into gasoline. Those refineries are facing lower supplies of oil from Venezuela and Mexico, and they need Canadian crude.
Because of this President's environmental agenda, now Canada is planning to ship its oil to China.
This President's agenda doesn't just stop with oil and gas, President Obama has also discouraged new electricity generation - forcing many parts of the country to experience rolling blackouts. That means that millions of Americans will live with a power grid that is second rate, like a Third World country.
To many Americans, rolling blackouts meant throwing rotting food from freezers away, spending sleepless nights in houses where the air conditioning won't work, trying to find crying children in homes without lights. To add insult to injury, each month these Americans pay astronomical electricity bills.
For instance, last September, the San Diego Gas & Electric Company shut down, affecting power in Southern California and Arizona. The blackout affected 1.4 million homes and 5 to 6 million people. Flights out of San Diego International Airport were suspended. People were trapped in elevators. Cell phones and landlines went dead. Many gas stations shut down.
President Obama, Americans are tired of your energy policy. We've tried it. It doesn't work.
Many American's work in coal mines and at power plants. Sadly, over one hundred coal-fired plants in America have closed since January 2010 and that's a devastating statistic when you consider coal produces 45 percent of our electricity and many American jobs. In Alabama and Missouri, coal plants have been closed because of costly Environmental Protection Agency regulations. In Kansas, a coal-fired plant faces operating delays due to a federal government inquiry.
Obama's energy policy does work for his close friends -- but not every American can own a company like Solyndra, though, or have a wind farm or a biofuels company that hasn't yet created gasoline out of algae--but which gets federal funds for trying.
Despite the President's personal agenda, the fact is, oil exploration is a vital part of the U.S. economy. On March 2 the Eagle Ford Consortium announced that its oil production for 2011 was more than twice analysts' expectations. The Texas-based company produced 22 million barrels of oil in 2011, rather than 9 million forecast.
The first well was drilled in 2008, and now production has already surpassed expectations. The formation stretches for 400 miles beneath 24 counties in South and Central Texas.
In addition to oil, Eagle Ford produced 221 billion cubic feet of natural gas,compared with a forecast of 122 billion cubic feet.
This is good for the economy. Bank deposits in the Eagle Ford region have risen from $14 billion in 2008 to $16 billion in 2011.
However, Secretary of Energy Chu thinks that energy prices in America are too low. He thinks that gasoline prices should be twice as high as they are. This Administration tries to make Americans ashamed for consuming energy.
In my home state of Pennsylvania market forces are being used to explore for natural gas. Some experts predict that this exploration will create up to 200,000 jobs by 2020. This has contributed to dramatically lower natural gas prices for consumers, transformed struggling rural communities, created additional revenue for state and local governments, and helped the environment through expanded use of natural gas.
When I am president, I'll approve the Keystone Pipeline for jobs and energy security, and sign an order on day one unleashing America's domestic energy production, allowing states to choose where they want to explore for oil and natural gas and to set their own regulations for hydrofracking.
Federal energy policy will work for ordinary Americans because my energy policy will put ordinary Americans back to work. I won't make Americans ashamed for using energy. In fact, I'll make them proud. America has always been an energy-intensive country. Our economic growth has been fueled by energy. So too will be our future.