An Action Plan for American Energy
By Congressman Joe Pitts
An old adage says that if you place a frog in boiling water it will jump out, but if you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil it will not move, leading to its eventual death. This old anecdote comes to mind as I think about our nation's energy policy. We are boiling to death in skyrocketing prices of gas at the pump, and increasing costs for electricity in our homes and businesses.
We are the proverbial frog having sat in a pot of water that has heated over time. For decades now, powerful political forces here in the United States, from overzealous government regulators, to fringe environmental agitators, to NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups have kept the United States from accessing the energy resources we have right here at home. Now we suddenly find ourselves in a boiling pot of water with gas prices over $4 a gallon in some parts of the country and oil above $130 a barrel.
As demand for energy supplies (and oil specifically) has increased, supply has not kept pace. With supply not keeping up with demand, prices will naturally rise. This is the simple truth of market economics. The answer is to increase supply, while encouraging new levels of efficiency in an effort to decrease demand.
Fortunately, we have the ability to increase energy supplies right here at home. The time has come to remove American energy sources from under the lock and key. There is no reason we should not look for the Made in America tag on our energy, the same way we have for years on our manufactured goods.
House Republicans have released a bold, comprehensive action plan to address the high cost of energy. We have left no stone unturned in our effort to address this issue that is so critical to families' checkbooks, our economy at large, and our ability to compete in the global marketplace.
Our plan calls for an increase in the production of American-made energy in an environmentally conscious manner. We have the technology to access the fuels right here in America while still protecting our natural resources for future generations. We should develop our own oil and natural gas resources in ANWR, in the deep waters off-shore, on federal lands, and oil shale.
We have legislation to promote clean and reliable energy sources like advanced nuclear, while encouraging clean power from renewable energy such as wind and hydroelectric power. Nuclear energy has proven itself as a safe and environmentally-friendly alternative with no carbon emissions. In fact, France relies on it for 80 percent of its electricity needs, compared to just 19 percent here in America.
We also know that renewables are part of the future of American energy. Clean, domestically-produced, renewable electricity is an important and growing part of meeting our American energy needs. This is why we have legislation to extend tax credits for the production of renewable energy, including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, waste-to-energy, and hydropower.
We plan to cut red tape in an effort to increase the supply of American-made fuel. Heavy-handed bureaucratic regulations have effectively barred the construction of new oil refineries here in the United States. The last oil refinery built in the U.S. was in 1976. Even if we could produce more oil, we must increase our capacity to turn it into fuel.
I have a bill that would use the land from decommissioned military bases, closed under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, as locations for new oil refineries. The plan would eliminate one hurdle companies must clear before building a new refinery: finding land.
Finally, we must encourage greater energy efficiency by offering conservation tax incentives to Americans who make their homes, cars, and businesses more energy efficient. This will give more families and businesses the chance to take advantage of the newest, most efficient energy technologies available.
In the 18 months they have totally controlled Congress, the Democrats have done absolutely nothing to address high gas prices. In fact, they are blocking every sensible solutiontheir only proposal so far has been to increase taxes on oil companies.
America needs energy now. We cannot simply hope new sources of energy will appear. The roadblocks to development of our own resources should be removed. We stand ready to take the steps necessary to increase our own energy supplies in environmentally friendly ways using both traditional sources of energy and new, clean, renewable technologies.