By Representative John Boehner
Soaring energy prices are raising the cost of living on families and small businesses across the country, presenting our nation's economy with yet another challenge as it struggles to return to lasting job creation and prosperity. And as with most of the challenges that have been thrown in our economy's path in recent years, the misguided policies of our federal government are contributing directly to the problem.
For decades, our country has stumbled along without a coherent national energy strategy. Big Government policies crafted in Washington by pandering politicians have kept America's vast energy resources under lock and key, forcing us to become more dependent on foreign oil and leaving us vulnerable to the whims of overseas energy cartels such as OPEC.
Such policies have also crippled the development and implementation of alternative energy sources in the United States, choking off royalties and revenues that could have been used over the years to promote the widespread use of new energy technologies such as wind and solar power.
Policies blocking the responsible production of American-made energy have also stymied the creation of countless new and well-paying American jobs. Instead those jobs have been created in countries like Brazil -- which, as I saw firsthand on a recent congressional delegation mission to Latin America, is more than happy to sell energy to the United States if we won't produce it ourselves.
We've seen the job-crushing effect of such Washington policies in Ohio on many occasions -- most recently on February 29, when GenOn Energy announced that its plants in Avon Lake and Niles will be among eight energy plants nationwide that will be closed as a result of excessive government regulation. Reports indicate the company is unsure of how many, if any, of the jobs at those Ohio facilities it will be able to preserve.
As recently reported by the Associated Press, the national average for regular gasoline is at the 'highest price ever for the end of February.' Ohio's average price as of this writing is $3.77 per gallon. And some areas of the country are already flirting with $5.00 per gallon gas.
Americans are fed up -- not just with skyrocketing gas prices, but with Washington's ongoing refusal to adopt a rational national strategy that will bring about genuine energy security for our country.
This is why I and other Republicans for years have been focused on implementing an 'all-of-the-above' energy policy that promotes the responsible production of all forms of American-made energy -- from increased domestic oil and gas production to the development and increased use of alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, and nuclear power.
Early in 2011, at my direction, House Republicans launched the American Energy Initiative, a plan to help address high gas prices and create new jobs by increasing energy production. As part of that initiative, the House has passed legislation that would open the most promising areas off shore to responsible U.S. exploration and production; decrease delays in production permitting; encourage development of 1.5 trillion barrels of oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West; make available three percent of land in the Arctic coastal plain, known to be rich in natural resources; remove regulatory barriers to the development of renewable energy sources on federal lands; and require approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
These are just a few of the things that need to be done to improve our country's energy security. When Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn't even allow our 'all of the above' bill containing reforms such as these to be brought to a vote.
I was encouraged recently when President Obama broke with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate and expressed support -- rhetorically, at least -- for our 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, after years of opposing such an approach. The weeks ahead will tell us whether the president has truly has become an advocate for 'all of the above,' or those were just empty election-year sound-bites.
Over the last three years, the Obama administration has blocked, slowed, and discouraged the production of critical American energy sources. From an offshore drilling moratorium to a de facto one put in place through the permitting and leasing process, American energy and the jobs it creates have too often been shelved. It is my hope that the president and the Democratic leadership in Congress will reconsider their opposition to the 'all of the above' legislation passed by the House and work with us to create jobs and increase our domestic energy supply.
A good place to start is the Keystone XL pipeline. While President Obama has in the past blocked this important project, the builder of the Keystone XL pipeline recently announced it will reapply for a presidential permit to bring oil resources from Canada into the United States. The current turmoil in the Middle East and its effect on gas prices reminds us how dangerous it is to rely so much on that region for our energy supply. To provide greater energy security, I have urged the president to change course and expeditiously approve the pipeline permit as soon as the application has been filed.
We must act now. Americans can't wait for Washington to address our nation's growing energy crisis. The Republican-led House has acted; now the Democrats who control the rest of Washington must follow suit.