By Representatives Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy
In the last week alone Californians have seen gas prices skyrocket to a state-wide average of $4.67 per gallon - a state record and currently the highest in the nation. Problems with pipelines and a power outage at one of the state's few remaining refineries exacerbated already tight fuel supplies causing the spike. But why has California's ability to meet the demand for gasoline - something needed by virtually every mom driving her kids to school, commuting worker, or small business owner - diminished to a point that has left California motorists extremely vulnerable to supply disruptions? These recent events coupled with California's state-specific fuel standards and burdensome regulations make it much more difficult for the market to respond and bring in gasoline and diesel from other states when there is a supply shortfall.
Over the past 30 years, California has put in place an array of laws, rules and regulations that have put so many constraints on the market that we've ended up with a system that has very little flexibility or capacity to provide an essential product when even a relatively small mishap occurs. Nowhere in the country is it more evident than in California that our nation needs a comprehensive energy agenda - one that increases our domestic production, creates needed jobs and builds a free market system that provides reliable, cost-effective energy.
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is taking a page out of California's handbook of constraining the free market and trying to centrally plan the nation's energy production through excessive laws, rules and regulation.
Over the last three and a half years, this Administration's policies have obstructed energy exploration and development here in the United States, and have greatly contributed to the pain at the pump and increasing burdens on hardworking taxpayers and small businesses in California. While North Dakota has an unemployment rate of 3% due to a growing energy sector on state and private land, California has endured higher prices and slower economic growth.
Our energy plan is to utilize the natural resources we have here at home to create jobs, reduce gas prices, grow our economy, and put our nation on a path to energy independence. Through a true "all-of-the-above" approach we can grow our domestic energy portfolio and eliminate our reliance on foreign sources of energy. More specifically, we would:
*Expand the production of oil shale, one of our country's most viable new energy sources;
*Expand refinery capacity, streamline and accelerate the refinery permitting process;
*Expand opportunities for renewable energy production; and
* With new technology, allow the construction of clean coal, nuclear and biofuel plants.
Jumpstarting American energy exploration, removing government barriers like growth-inhibiting red tape by federal agencies, and developing our country's abundant natural resources will help our nation achieve energy security without wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.
Every one cent increase in gas prices hurts our local families and small businesses. Californians can no longer afford the burdensome government policies that are driving up energy costs and hampering economic growth. We have and will continue to support legislation that will get us on the right path and provide Californians with cheaper and more reliable forms of American-made energy.