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Making the Most of our Energy Resources

News Article

Location: Washington, DC

Americans are tired of the Obama Administration's energy policies that hinder domestic oil and natural gas production. This month, the House of Representatives plans to consider three bills to ensure that we make the most of our domestic energy resources.

According to a March 9, 2011, Reuters report, the Department of Energy expects the average U.S. household to spend about $700 more for gasoline in 2011 than last year.

Last week, I sent an "Instapoll" question to constituents on my email list to ask how high gas prices impact them. Over 4,000 people responded, and almost half said that high gas prices are significantly changing their household budget. Some constituents also said that gas prices impact their ability to afford essential items, such as groceries.

Many families and small businesses in my district face difficult decisions as the price of gas takes up a larger portion of their budget. Today, a gallon of regular gas costs $3.79 on average in San Antonio. One year ago, it was $2.70. With gas prices climbing, we should actively explore all of our domestic energy options. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has blocked and delayed American energy production that would create jobs, lower energy prices, and strengthen our national security.

The Administration has effectively reinstated the ban on new offshore drilling - placing the Atlantic Coast, Pacific Coast, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of Alaska off-limits to new offshore exploration. According to the Energy Information Administration's outlook, US production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall by 240,000 barrels per day in 2011. However, the President has encouraged Brazil to develop its own resources and promised that America would be one of their "best" customers.

To counter these policies, the House is working to boost American energy production, instead of hinder it. We will vote to expand offshore energy production, improve industry safety, and streamline the bureaucratic regulatory process. We will also set firm deadlines to ensure the Secretary of the Interior moves forward on American energy production in areas that contain the most oil and natural gas resources. With more than 13 million Americans still looking for employment, we also have an opportunity to create jobs that would foster long-term economic growth. According to economist Dr. Joseph Mason from Louisiana State University, these bills could create 250,000 short term jobs and 1.2 million in the long term.

I will continue to push for an all-of-the-above approach that utilizes our own resources to protect Americans from surging gas prices. I hope the Administration will join us and take concrete steps now to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create more American jobs. If you would like to participate in future "Instapolls" and hear about issues that affect you, visit the 21st district website, and subscribe to my e-newsletter.

- Lamar Smith represents the 21st Congressional District of Texas.

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