By Leonard Lance
Winter heating bills are a harsh reminder that the American energy consumer has yet to benefit from the boom in North American energy production. Consumers want more affordable energy delivered quickly, safely and efficiently. But instead consumers experience the price of bureaucracy from heating our residences to filling up at the pump.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, has aggressively championed an "all of the above" energy strategy under the steadfast leadership of full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Energy and Power subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). For years now, we have worked together, often in a bipartisan fashion, to realize the full effects of our nation's many great natural resources and energy supply.
Coal, natural gas, wind and nuclear power are just some of the areas where development can bring real savings to the consumer. But red tape and intransigence in the Senate has resulted in project delays, stifled private investment and has created great uncertainty in the energy market. We now mark five years of delays in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, years of good energy legislation has languished in the Senate, and this month, we pass three years of gas prices at more than $3 dollars a gallon.
Consumers can, and will, experience the benefits of an "all of the above" energy strategy if we move to create the tools and infrastructure needed to realize this great potential and the prosperity from our present energy boom. We must build an "architecture of abundance" that meets energy supply with demand and drives prices down for the average American household. Lower energy costs are helping to create new manufacturing jobs in this country, giving us a distinct advantage over our global competitors.
The unfortunate reality is that the Obama administration is not allowing a true "all of the above" strategy. Rather than facilitate the development of safe, clean and reliable new energy sources, red tape has delayed (some say stalled) projects that will be job creators. The development of the Keystone XL pipeline is, of course, exhibit A.
The House has moved to remove burdens on other budding sectors and projects. We've also moved on agency accountability, as well as knocking down government barriers to energy production disguised as executive rule-making.
This week, we take another step. The House is expected to pass H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.). This legislation will modernize the federal review process for natural gas pipeline permit applications and expedite approvals. The intent here is simple: require decision-making in a timely manner and get projects moving. This legislation will help make a difference in making sure natural gas is readily available across the country. The Northeast, including my home state of New Jersey, has experienced a painful shortage of natural gas, which has caused prices to spike. This last January, those of us living in New Jersey experienced residential natural gas prices 18 percent higher than the national average.
A more robust federal commitment to these projects would incentivize the private market. There is innovation and enterprise sitting on the sidelines. Billions of dollars -- and potentially thousands of jobs -- are just waiting for the green light. These projects span the nation, with the potential to put manufacturers, builders and engineers to work in every state. We must act on good projects and unleash the possibilities for our economy.
The consensus is clear: Higher energy prices, like higher taxes, make it difficult for small businesses to expand and hire more workers. Seven in 10 jobs in America are created by small businesses and higher energy prices are hurting their ability to grow. Uncertainty in our nation's energy policy is placing a tremendous burden on the economy and the pain of rising energy prices can be felt at every level. Families filling up for a drive to the Jersey Shore, shop owners paying more in shipping, senior citizens trying to heat their residences all share the same view: We need relief.
The House has delivered. Its members have voted to make our nation more energy independent. We are building an "architecture of abundance" that will lay the groundwork for robust job creation and relief for American energy consumers. We are putting in place the tools that will allow us to capture our full American energy potential. We just need an administration and Senate as eager as the House to achieve an "all of the above" energy strategy. It is time for all American-made energy to reach American consumers.