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Energy Independence

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Speaker, this Nation has sent millions of good jobs to other countries over the last 30 or 40 years because of environmental rules, regulations, and red tape. This has hurt millions of poor and lower-income and working people by destroying jobs and driving up prices on everything.

The BP oil spill in the Gulf is a terrible thing, and we need to do all we reasonably can to see that something like this does not happen again. However, some extremists want us to stop offshore oil production entirely. Talk about wrecking our economy. Talk about killing countless numbers of jobs. And all this at a time when our unemployment is far too high and underemployment is even higher.

John Engler, the former Governor of Michigan, wrote a column 5 days ago in the Washington Times under the headline, ``Drilling Moratorium is a Jobs Moratorium.'' Governor Engler wrote, ``Our country cannot afford to use this accident as an excuse for an overbroad moratorium that stops progress to the detriment of our economic and national security. We do not need to choose between energy security and environmental safety. We need to continue to strive for both.''

Charles Krauthammer, the TV commentator and columnist, is respected even by people with whom he disagrees as one of the smartest men in this city. He recently wrote a column asking why we were drilling in 5,000 feet of water in the first place. He wrote, ``Environmental chic has driven us out there. Environmentalists have succeeded in rendering the Pacific and nearly all the Atlantic Coast off limits to oil production. And, of course, in the safest of all places, on land, we've had a 30-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.''

Mr. Krauthammer is right. For many years, we have tried to allow drilling on about 2,000 or 3,000 acres of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. ANWR is 19.8 million acres, some 35 times the size of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies get over 9 million visitors a year, and people think it is huge. They cannot humanly comprehend how big ANWR is, yet it is home to only a couple hundred people in the village of Kaktovik and gets a couple of hundred visitors each year. Yet radical environmentalists, who almost always come from very wealthy or upper-income families, oppose oil production almost everyplace. They want gas to double or triple in cost so people will drive less. They can't relate to people who cannot afford gas that costs $7 or $8 or $10 a gallon like it does in some other countries.

Not only would shooting the cost of gas way up cause the loss of huge numbers of jobs, it would put the final nail in the coffins of many small towns and rural areas. People in rural areas generally have to drive longer distances to get to their jobs. Already, two-thirds of the counties in the U.S. are losing population. Yet, once again, radical environmentalists see nothing wrong with this. Most of them are city people, anyway. They probably think it would be good if everyone was forced to live in 25 or 30 urban areas, with the rest of the country left totally empty and people could be bused to a national park or wilderness area every couple of months, under government supervision, of course, so they would not harm the land.

Everyone pays lip service to energy independence, but we already had 84 percent of our U.S. oil off limits even before the President imposed this latest moratorium. Environmental radicals will say they, too, want energy independence. But, then, environmental groups oppose drilling for oil, cutting any trees, digging for any coal, or producing any natural gas because of the pipelines and the refineries. And, heaven forbid, they certainly don't want more nuclear power.

The opposition varies from group to group and geographic location, but the environmentalists are always there to fight any kind of energy production except for solar and wind. But then some oppose the windmills, too. And solar energy, despite mega billions in government subsidies over the last 30 years, only produces one-seventh of 1 percent of our energy, and adding wind power only brings it up about 1 percent more.

If we limit this Nation to wind and solar, we might as well just shut the country down economically. And all these young people with degrees who are working as waiters and waitresses or in other low-paying jobs can thank the environmentalists. I told my wife as we were eating out last Saturday night, the American people used to work in factories and eat out just occasionally. Now, most of the factories have gone to other countries and restaurants have replaced the factories as our biggest employers other than government.

Now, a slight majority of our people get most of their income from Federal, State, or local government. When a country passes that threshold, it is on the way down. We need to wake up and realize that the worst polluters in the world have been the socialist and communist countries. And we need to realize that only a free market, free enterprise system can generate the money to do the good things for the environment that everybody wants done.

Charles Krauthammer wrote in another column a few months ago that, ``socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck on a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power.''

Once again, Mr. Krauthammer is right.

We certainly need to clean up the BP oil spill, but we should not let misguided radicals shut down our economy and hurt many lower- and middle-income people in the process.

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