By Adam Kinzinger
Remember the days when the average gas price in Illinois was below $2 a gallon? Now teenage drivers cannot even fathom filling up the car for less than $3.50 a gallon.
Here in Illinois, families and businesses are forced to cope with some of the highest gas prices in the nation. They are rightfully demanding that Washington adopt a comprehensive energy approach that creates jobs here at home, lowers the cost at the pump, and leads us toward energy security.
On Friday, President Obama visited Argonne National Laboratory here to promote his "energy policies." The trip provided ample opportunity for the president to present a real plan that will make our nation energy-secure, a plan that increases energy production here at home.
While at Argonne, President Obama discussed his plan for an "Energy Security Trust Fund" that would be financed by royalties from oil and gas exploration on federal lands. And though the president claims to support the use of "all" domestic energy resources, his policies prove the opposite.
A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service shows that since 2010, oil production on non-federal lands grew by 1.1 million barrels per day, but on U.S. federal lands, production decreased by 7 percent. In addition, while new extraction technologies have led to a boom in natural gas development in many parts of the United States, natural gas development on federal lands is down 33 percent. These facts lead to the critical question of whether the president truly is serious about drilling on federal lands.
This decline in production on federal lands is due to a burdensome and inefficient web of regulations. The Congressional Research Service reports that under the Obama administration, the average time to process an application to drill on federal lands has increased by 41 percent. These delays result in the loss of good-paying American jobs when we can least afford it.
While the Obama administration's red tape has slowed oil and gas development on federal lands, a major failure is the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. The construction of this pipeline is estimated to create 20,000 manufacturing jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs. For many, this pipeline is an opportunity to re-enter the workforce as pipe fitters, welders, electricians, machine operators and construction workers.
The fact is that someone will benefit from the oil coming out of Alberta. If not the United States, it will be China -- and it will be American businesses and consumers who suffer the consequences of our inaction.
The most efficient path toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and lowering energy costs is an all-of-the-above approach that includes natural gas, nuclear energy, clean-coal technology, biofuels, wind, hydropower and solar energy, as well as domestic fossil fuels. This approach is not unrealistic. The Illinois district I represent in Congress, the 16th, serves as a great example of what diverse energy production looks like. The 16th District is home to four nuclear power plants, hydropower plants, ethanol and biodiesel plants, coal and natural gas facilities, and miles of clean-energy producing windmills. Our nuclear energy production alone employs more than 2,500 people.
We are past the point of talking about what to do. Now is the time to put this decades-long conversation into action and craft a long-term, comprehensive energy solution.