The rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel is hitting most Americans very hard -- and at a time when so many have been suffering serious economic hardship with a sluggish economy. In addition to the pressure that it puts on a family's budget, high energy prices threaten to slow our economic recovery and job growth. That is why I have developed a plan to lower energy costs and move our transportation fuels to more domestically produced energy.
First, we must increase oil and gas production here in the United States and open up new areas for exploration -- particularly for natural gas which is a safer and cleaner burning fuel. I voted for the North American-Made Energy Security Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year to expedite the process for construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline. When completed, the 1,179-mile pipeline will run from Canada through the Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico, and it has already withstood an exhaustive regulatory review. It will play a key role in linking a secure and growing supply of Canadian crude with the largest refining markets in the U.S. Not only will it increase the supply, it will provide much-needed stability and inject a multi-billion dollar boost in the American economy through job creation and construction.
I also voted for other measures during this Congress which would expedite the backlog of oil and gas permits and expand and diversify our energy supply. Those include the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, the Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, and the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, and all three of these bills have already passed the U.S. House. Expanding access to the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration and production is vitally important, and I am committed to ensuring that it is done in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. I am also an original co-sponsor of NAT GAS -- the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act to help expand our natural gas infrastructure and lower the price at the pump by taking pressure off of our oil supply.
Second, we must be forward-thinking and invest in the promising energy technologies that can reduce the pressure of demand for traditional fossil fuels. As a senior member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, I am committed to moving to the next generation of renewable energy sources using natural resources that can be found right here in North Carolina. Advancing biofuels sources from plant and animal waste (not corn-based ethanol) and developing alternative sources of energy such as nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar, and tidal technologies, help enhance our renewable energy portfolio. Right in the heart of our own district, we have innovative projects underway in partnership with our community colleges, NC Cooperative Extension, and local Economic Development Commissions. In addition, I support targeted tax credits in key areas to help boost these alternative energy sources and provide a good return on our tax dollars.
Third, I have called on the President to release oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to help increase supply. The SPR holds approximately 696 million barrels and is filled to more than 95 percent of its capacity. Releasing even a small fraction of that oil -- as both Republican and Democratic Presidents have done before -- can have a near immediate impact to bring down high gas prices and ease the financial burden on families hit by sudden price spikes. The SPR was created to help the nation deal with shocks to the global supply. The Iranian threat to close the Straits of Hormuz -- which has triggered the recent spike in crude prices -- justifies such a release.
Fourth, energy speculators must not be allowed to distort the oil market simply to make a quick buck while driving our oil and gas prices even higher. That is why I support full funding of the Community Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) so that proper oversight can better protect the American public. Forbes magazine recently reported that oil speculation alone can add as much as 56-cents to the price of a gallon of gas, and these practices should be stopped immediately.
Lastly, I have co-sponsored the Gas Rebate Act which would eliminate subsidies for oil companies and use the savings to distribute rebates to individuals and businesses for vehicles they own or lease. If passed, this measure would pump approximately $38.6 billion into the U.S. economy and provide a rebate of approximately $160 per vehicle.
Our great nation can rise to the challenge to work collectively and cooperatively to tackle our growing energy needs. We must put America back on track and put into place a plan to help reduce rising energy costs, decrease our reliance on foreign oil, increase domestic oil and gas production, and further develop renewable energy sources. It is essential to protecting our national security and securing our economic future, and I will continue working on these important issues which affect all Americans.