By Representative Adrian Smith
America's energy policy is broken. In Nebraska, the average price per gallon of gasoline stands at $3.83, while diesel stands at more than $4 per gallon. At a time when costs of living are steadily inching upward and people across the country are struggling to make ends meet, higher fuel prices are a headache middle class families in Nebraska do not deserve.
Rising energy prices increases the price of not only fuel, but also doing business generally. As our economy continues to recover, these higher costs pose another obstacle to economic growth and job creation. Expensive fuel prices disproportionately affect rural areas like the Third District. Farmers and ranchers spend an average of 58 percent more on energy as a percentage of income than their urban counterparts.
We have the ability to become less dependent on oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Nigeria, but we must develop the resources available in places like the Gulf of Mexico, designated public lands across America, and in our friendly bordering countries.
Unfortunately, for decades politicians on both sides of the aisle have dismissed efforts to bolster domestic energy production. If we had moved forward on these projects years ago, we might very well be talking about a different set of circumstances today. Instead, gas prices are now on track to exceed the record highs set in the summer of 2008. With the recent denial of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite the consensus forged here in Nebraska, Washington is continuing its habit of making short-term political decisions at the expense of long-term energy solutions.
We need a different approach. Rather than burdening domestic energy producers with irresponsible regulations and inaction, Congress and the Administration must work together to develop energy policy which uses all of the abundant resources our country possesses. To help further this effort, I recently wrote a letter along with 182 bipartisan Members of Congress to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing the need to move forward with more offshore energy exploration.
Proudly, Nebraska has been a leader in the advancement of diverse energy production. From ethanol and biodiesel production across the state, we have demonstrated the variety of sources into which we can tap as we develop an energy policy for the 21st century.
America needs an energy policy based on common sense. A strategic, all-of-the-above approach to energy policy which utilizes American engineering, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, will strengthen our economy, enhance our security, and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs right here at home. By incentivizing innovation and responsibly developing American energy resources, we can reduce the pain at the pump for Nebraskans and move toward energy independence.