This week Americans across the country will gather together to celebrate our nation's independence and all the freedoms we enjoy. As we reflect on the contributions of our forefathers and the sacrifices of our servicemen and women, I think about America's pursuit of energy independence and how close we are to achieving that goal. This is important for many reasons -- an energy-independent America would mean new jobs, a healthier economy, lower energy costs, and stronger national security.
Not that long ago, the price of a gallon of gas was just $1.89 (when President Obama first took office). Today, it's not unusual to see a gallon of gas cost $4. High gas prices hurt us all, and families feel the impacts every day -- from making tough choices in their budgets, to rearranging their schedules to accommodate fewer scheduled school buses, to small businesses hiring fewer workers due to the cost of business increases.
The good news is that the American people don't have to accept this as the new normal. The U.S. has an abundance of untapped resources in our own backyard that are currently not being utilized. Since taking office, President Obama has pursued an "all-of-the-above, but nothing-from-below" approach to energy. He has aggressively promoted failed green energy production, such as Solyndra, while simultaneously imposing a moratorium on offshore drilling that blocks access to affordable energy. In 2009, nearly 100% of America's offshore areas were available for energy production. Now, less than 15% of America's offshore areas are available. Americans are paying the price, literally, for this Administration's move backward on energy.
The President recently spoke of his plans to circumvent Congress by executive order to impose expensive new EPA regulations on new and existing power plants. Daniel P. Schrag, a White House climate adviser, then told the New York Times that "a war on coal is exactly what's needed." I'm proud of the coal miners and producers in the 4th District. The President's new regulations would essentially penalize them and put them out of business, despite the fact they have steadily lowered their emissions over the past decades. These producers are a valuable asset to the 4th District that provide affordable energy and good jobs, and I stand with my constituents in opposition to the President's "war on coal."
We need to build on our efforts to achieve energy independence. That is why House Republicans are making every effort to pursue true "all-of-the-above" energy solutions that expand our infrastructure and increase domestic production, including nuclear and alternative fuels.
Just last week, the House passed two pro-jobs, pro-energy bills that would improve the lives of all Americans.
H.R. 2231, The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act would help Americans by creating 250,000 jobs in the short-term and 1.2 million jobs long-term. This bill would also grow the economy by generating $1.5 billion in new revenue over 10 years. The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act would reverse the President's moratorium that blocks access to affordable energy. It requires the President to implement a new five-year leasing plan that moves forward with energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources which are currently not being utilized.
Also passed last week was H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement Authorization Act, whichopens new areas to oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico by enacting the terms of an agreement signed by the President's Administration and Mexico.
In addition to much-needed new energy jobs and increased access to our energy resources, these bills also strengthen national security by making the U.S. more energy independent, and help families save money at the gas pump by lowering energy prices.
I have often said that, for kids today, I believe that other than ""prayer," "energy" is the most important word in the dictionary. I will continue to use my positions on the Energy and Commerce Committee and Science, Space, and Technology Committee to promote real energy solutions, and I will continue to support legislation that promotes job creation, a healthy economy, affordable energy, and America's energy independence.