If you fueled up your car this week, it probably left you wishing you live in a state like Arizona, where gas prices haven't yet hit the $4.27 or more per gallon we're now paying in Chicago. The fact is that Chicago gas prices are always among the highest in the nation because of government requirements that we offer so many different blends of fuel.
With the slow job market and summer around the corner, skyrocketing gas prices are the last thing most families can afford right now. Unfortunately, rising demand, combined with turmoil in the Middle East, and weak domestic energy production have combined to increase prices and put further pressure on our already struggling economy. The Administration's de facto moratorium in the Gulf has only made the situation worse. In fact, due to the cancellation and delay of offshore leases, this will be the first year since 1958 that the federal government has not sold a lease to drill offshore.
I've always felt that the biggest mistake Washington makes on energy is to pay attention only when gas prices rise, but then ignore our dependence on foreign oil when prices drop back down again. Not surprisingly, Congress now is renewing its focus on domestic energy production to help increase supply and lower fuel costs. When we return to Washington, the House will review legislation to expand oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf and reduce the red tape that is standing in the way of new drilling permits. We also need to embrace an all-of-the-above approach to energy independence that promotes advanced technologies, renewable fuels, nuclear power, hydrogen, and traditional fuels. New technologies are the future, and I'll continue to work to advance cutting-edge alternatives, but ignoring our near-term energy needs will only lead to fewer jobs and less security.