Our nation and our economy rely on energy, and the United States needs to pursue a comprehensive energy policy that ensures affordable, available energy to all Americans. This is especially critical for the First Congressional District where farming is an essential component of the economy.
There are a number of concrete steps that should be taken to ensure our nation's energy security. We need to unlock domestic resources, we need to promote new forms of energy, and we need to remove government regulations limiting efforts to improve energy efficiency at existing power plants.
Currently, the United States imports over 60 percent of the oil we consume, much of which comes from the Middle East and countries like Venezuela which do not share our commitment to basic human rights and individual liberty. The Energy Information Agency within the Department of Energy estimates that we could increase domestic oil production from 1.4 million barrels per day to 2.7 million barrels per day if we lifted the existing moratoria on offshore oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf.
I support the immediate repeal of all limitations on oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. Each area should be surveyed for domestic resources, environmental protections should only be reimposed where warranted, and the revenues from lease sales and production should be used to pay down the national debt.
Renewable Energy and Biofuels:
To ensure a balanced energy supply, we need to continue our nation's investments in wind, solar, geothermal, and bio-based fuels. Ethanol and biodiesel production can provide both diversified energy sources and additional income to farm families in our state. As new, more efficient technologies are developed, biofuels will play a crucial role in supplementing the nation's fuel supply.
In terms of wind power and solar power, the United States needs to create and maintain a favorable business, labor, and tax environment to ensure these industries can be successful locally while competing globally with rivals from Europe and Asia.
I support the long-term extension and expansion of the research and development tax credit as well as the extension and expansion of tax credits for the production of ethanol, biodiesel, and other bio-based fuels.
Natural gas is clean, abundant, and domestic. According to the Department of Energy, 84 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States in 2008 was produced domestically, and 90 percent of the natural gas imported into the United States came from Canada.
Since 2004, proven natural gas reserves have increased by 24 percent, largely as a result of development of non-conventional natural gas resources, such as shale gas. The U.S. Geologic Survey estimates that our reserves of up to 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas stored in these shale structures domestically.
The Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Interior, and the Forest Service currently control 449 million acres of land--nearly one fifth of the entire land mass of the United States. Despite the incredible potential for energy production on these lands, large expanses of federal lands are being kept off limits by our own federal government.
I support increasing access to federal lands for purpose of natural gas discovery and extraction. These efforts must be done in a manner that maximizes production and minimizes environmental impacts.
Nearly 20 percent our nation's energy comes from nuclear power despite the fact that no new nuclear plants have been built in the United States since the 1970's. Nuclear power must be part of our nation's energy mix for the future.
Nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases. While there may be some dispute among politicians in Washington about climate change and the best way to address that issue, nuclear power offers the best near-term alternative to coal for large-scale energy production. Whether or not they support cap-and-trade or any other climate change legislation, every elected leader should support increased nuclear power. It is domestically available, and it does not emit carbon.
The need for more nuclear power plants is clear; however, major roadblocks exist. The permitting process for new nuclear power plants is cumbersome and inordinately slow--the Nuclear Regulatory Committee expects a 43 month review period for one license! The financing of these projects as a result is extraordinary difficult. Additionally, the Obama Administration's cancellation of the Yucca Mountain waste depository and the lack of a national nuclear waste confidence policy make construction of new nuclear power plants a risky endeavor. The U.S. government needs to take proactive steps to promote the construction of new nuclear power plants.
I support the creation of an expedited review process for the permitting and approval of new nuclear power plants. As designs and plans are approved, similar applications should be approved at a much faster rate without any additional safety risk.
I support the establishment of a comprehensive national nuclear waste policy to remove the uncertainty about the storage and safeguarding of spent nuclear fuel. This will remove the uncertainty surrounding this issue and increase investment in this important sector.