By Representative Bonner
This Week in Washington --
Last week during an early morning meeting of the Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce in Gulf Shores, I took a number of questions sking why gas prices are so high and what can be done about them.
Folks from Chatom to Lillian know well that gas prices are too high. Never before have pump prices risen to this level so early in the year.
Two weeks ago in Florida President Obama said his administration was pursing an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy and doing all it can to ease gas prices. Last week in New Hampshire he dusted off his old refrain of raising taxes on energy companies as the answer.
If the president wants to get back in touch with the American people, he needs to take a drive across the country instead of jet setting from photo op to photo op on Air Force One. The president can bob and weave all he likes, but he cannot hide from his record of putting the brakes on new domestic oil drilling and stalling development of abundant domestic energy sources such as shale oil.
While the president says tapping into America's domestic fossil fuel supply will not lower prices, increased domestic development has actually helped to bring down natural gas prices. Why can't the president follow suit with oil production? The answer is simple: policy not economics.
The Obama administration has made no secret of its goal of forcing drivers to give up fossil fuels no matter the cost to our economy. Last week before a Senate hearing, Mr. Obama's Energy Secretary matter-of-factly stated that his department has no interest in lowering gas prices. When asked if working to reduce gas prices was a priority, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said "No."
In 2008, months before he became an Obama cabinet secretary, Mr. Chu lamented to The Wall Street Journal that the low gas prices at that time were preventing Americans from embracing fuel efficient vehicles. "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," he said.
Given the fact that European gas prices, which currently top $8 a gallon, are weighted down with taxes in order to fund big government programs, it's not hard to see how this idea could be popular with a tax and spend Obama administration. The result, however, would be disastrous for our economy. America has abundant energy sources that can be tapped if only our president had the will to let it happen.
Secretary Chu reportedly has assigned himself an A- grade for his handling of energy policy so far. Perhaps he was referring to his goal of achieving European style gas prices here at home. He's off to a good start. Gas prices have nearly doubled since President Obama took office in January 2009.
On February 16, 2012, I voted for a balanced energy bill that would allow for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, creating thousands of new jobs and providing America with increased access to abundant Canadian oil. The president remains opposed to the Keystone pipeline.
Furthermore, the energy bill I voted for would break President Obama's blockade of drilling off the East and West coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska. It would also promote development of America's abundant domestic oil shale reserves.
The fact is, Mr. President, America is not helpless when it comes to our energy supply and House Republicans have been calling for passage of a true "all-of-the-above" approach to energy for years. Your energy policy is killing jobs, driving up gas prices and is out of touch with America.
U.S. Coast Guard Heroes: We Can Never Thank Them Enough
The United States Coast Guard and the Gulf Coast both suffered a tragic loss after an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter crashed off Point Clear during a February 28 evening training mission.
The accident claimed the lives of Lt. Cmdr. Dale Taylor of Snow Hill, North Carolina, Lt. J.G. Thomas Cameron of Portland, Oregon, and Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge of Buena Park, California. Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight of Thomasville is still missing as I write this column.
Whether during a hurricane, an oil spill or in one of their daily encounters with danger when conducting a search and rescue or drug interdiction mission, the Coast Guard plays a vital role that we too often take for granted.
It is times like this when we are reminded of the dangers they face in their service to our nation. They are truly on the first line of protecting our country and we can never thank them enough.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these dedicated Coast Guard personnel. While they are not all from our area, they are nonetheless part of our family.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.