By: Congressman Devin Nunes
Last month, we examined current energy policies and how these policies are contributing to long-term energy security and independence. This month, in our series conclusion, we examine how Congress can increase our domestic energy supplies while building a bridge to the next generation of energy production.
While gas prices fell over the winter, they are back on the rise just in time for the summer driving season. All we need is a hiccup in the supply chain of crude oil, and the prices at the pump can quickly exceed historic levels. Although national energy policy has included investments in renewables and alternatives, these energy sources have suffered from the volatility of the oil market. When oil prices are high, they are competitive and are a viable
investment for energy developers. When the oil market declines, however, these technologies quickly become expensive and investments can become stranded. It will come as no surprise that inexpensive energy sources
dominate the market, as crude oil has done for more than a century.
As reported in our May issue of the Washington Report, the U.S. imports 65% of our petroleum needs, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that by 2025 we will import 71% of our petroleum. Our national dependence on foreign oil is exacerbated by the fact that two-thirds of the
world's proven oil reserves are located in the volatile Middle East. Instability throughout the Middle East as well as the threat of lost production from Nigeria and Venezuela create serious global energy price volatility. These
challenges are compounded by the virtual halt to new energy exploration here at home.
As a result, year after year we pay higher prices for energy - whether at the pumps or in our home energy bills. Unfortunately, the solution to our energy
challenge has been thwarted by a vocal minority of special interests. To date, the only solution that has been acceptable to fringe environmental activists is social engineering. This involves punitive tax policies and other "incentives" that encourage lifestyle changes by the American public. Such an approach
fund. This trust fund would be used to pay for numerous renewable, alternative, and advanced energy programs. At an estimated $40 billion over 30 years, this trust fund would be the largest investment in renewable, alternative, and advanced energy in our nation's history - all at no cost to the taxpayer.
In the 109th Congress, Rep. Nunes and a bi-partisan group of lawmakers
introduced the American Made Energy Freedom Act. Within the first two years of enactment of this legislation, numerous renewable and alternative energy programs would receive billions of dollars in much needed investment. This would include an infusion of investment into the next generation of ethanol (cellulosic), a deployment of Coal-to-Liquid (CTL) technology, an expansion
of the use of solar and fuel cell technology, and significant growth in the biofuel energy production industry. A number of these investments would come in the form of marketbased tax credits. Moreover, the bill funds numerous renewable energy provisions that were originally authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has never succeeded. What we need is a comprehensive market-based strategy that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil while bridging the gap to the next generation of energy.
Congress can and should provide short-term relief to high energy prices while funding a long-term solution for energy freedom. We could accomplish this by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to exploration and investing the federal share of the lease and royalty revenue into an energy trust and have yet to receive significant funding. These federal investments are needed to ensure breakthroughs in biotechnology, new feedstocks, harvesting, storage, transportation, and processing to produce a sustainable
transportation fuel at a price competitive with fuel from the mature petroleum industry.
Furthermore, enhancing federal consumer tax credits is necessary to ensure that every home owner or small business has the opportunity to participate in our energy freedom by installing alternative energy systems that are environmentally sensitive. These investments are made possible by lease and royalty revenue from ANWR. At the same time, short-term domestic petroleum
supplies will be augmented through ANWR production. There are no other proposals that combine the development of long-term energy independence with increased energy production today and no other proposal before Congress contemplates the level of investment funded in the American Made Energy Freedom Act. While many ideas are under consideration, there is often little or no funding available. For those energy proposals that are funded, tax increases are the mechanism to provide funding. In a volatile energy market where consumers are feeling the pinch, tax increases only compound the problem.
Certainly, there are no quick fixes to our energy challenges. However, one thing is clear. Americans cannot continue to rely on cheap imports for our energy future. It is important for us to recognize the possibility of global shortages or disruptions as demand for fossil fuel continues to grow. We must also contemplate the real possibility that oil will be used as an economic weapon against us. We are in the midst of a Global War on Terrorism, fighting radicals whose stated objective is to destroy western civilization and install religious theocracies. At the same time, we rely on certified state-sponsors of
terrorism for our petroleum needs. In my view, it is irresponsible for the United States to buy oil from fanatical regimes that are determined to destroy our way of life. It is time for energy freedom, it is time for energy security, and it is time for action on an American- Made solution.
In My Words: No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
The authorization of NCLB signaled a fundamental and commonsense change in American education. At a time when less than half the states in our country fully measured their students against academic standards, NCLB recognized the importance of providing a quality education. Specifically, it calls for a highly qualified teacher in the core subjects in every classroom; the use of proven, research based instructional methods; and timely information and options for parents. Furthermore, NCLB holds under performing schools accountable, by helping them provide their students with free tutoring or transfers to a better-performing public school. In other words, children's education needs are placed firstwhere they belong.
As your Congressman, I support the reauthorization of NCLB which ncourages our children to succeed and our schools to improve against impeding odds. No Child Left Behind targets students who are underperforming at their grade level, allowing schools to provide the extra tools and attention needed to close the achievement gap. It is working; not only has fourth grade reading proficiency increased by eight percentage
points, mathematics has increased by five percent in the state of California alone.
There has been extensive debate in Congress and around the country about the upcoming changes to NCLB during the reauthorization process. Among these concerns are the lack of consensus on what makes a teacher effective, the vast size and decentralized organization of K-12 education, and problems with teacher supply and demand. Improving education in America demands
closing the achievement gap between lowperforming students and their higher performing peers as well as setting realistic standards for all students, school districts, and teachers to meet. As we approach NCLB's reauthorization, it is imperative that Congress addresses many longstanding issues and continue to work with local school districts to make meaningful improvements.
Rumor Mill: Global Warming
Myth: Existing science proves that global warming is real, and the only way to stop it is to reduce CO2 emissions.
Fact: As this issue is evaluated, it is important to remember the scientific limitations which impact our understanding. The fact of the matter is that there are aspects of climate science that are proven, and there are other aspects that have less certainty. Scientists have documented that the Earth's temperature is rising. However, scientists admit that they cannot be sure whether the Earth's temperature is rising due human influence or a cyclical warming and cooling process. The biggest scientific challenge is to understand the natural variations of climate change and what affect, if any, humans have. Indeed, scientists have documented a human- induced increase in greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) since the Industrial Revolution.
They have also documented that these greenhouse emissions hang around in the Earth's atmosphere for years, therefore increasing the concentrations.
However, it is difficult to determine the affects of greenhouse gases. Indeed, scientists cannot prove that greenhouses gases are contributing to climate change. Nevertheless, Rep. Nunes has supported several initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, he has proposed legislation that will increase the solar tax credit, thereby making it easier for Americans to
purchase solar energy systems for their homes. Additionally, he has proposed legislation that would increase funding for plug-in hybrids which would decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, cellulosic ethanol is another environmentally friendly energy. Additionally, Congress has provided billions
of dollars on research to better understand climate change. Congress should continue the effort by considering all available data to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce overall energy consumption. As Congress debates the solution, it is important that discussions of regulations take into consideration the economic impact on businesses and jobs. Creating burdensome greenhouse gas emission standards will raise the cost of energy - which will be passed onto Americans. Until more concrete data is
available, the focus should not be on any one solution. Rather than create policies that will raise the cost of energy, Congress should invest in alternative energy sources that simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy costs, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Technological advances in biofuel and ethanol production, advances in solar and fuel cell technology, and creating nuclear energy plants will help reach these goals.