Saturday, June 28, 2008

Boehner Column: "Energy Independence"

In a few days, we will mark the founding of our great nation, Independence Day. We’ll cheer our historic victory over the British monarch. We’ll celebrate the ingenuity and enterprising spirit that transformed us from 13 colonies to a world superpower of 50 states. And yet with all of our accomplishments, we are still incapable of meeting our own energy needs.

This is insane. Americans are demanding action, but all you hear from the leaders in the Democratic Congress are excuses for why they refuse to schedule votes to put us on the road to energy independence. And the votes that are scheduled are on bills that would actually raise gas prices.

Democratic leaders brought to the floor of the U.S. House a “patch” for the Alternative Minimum Tax that would raise taxes on America ’s domestic energy industry by $13.5 billion. As any small business owner can tell you, when the cost of doing business goes up – and taxes are one of those costs – prices must go up, meaning that consumers will pay more. We’re already paying more than $4 a gallon for gas; how much higher does that have to go before we do something about it?

I recently hosted a telephone townhall with about 300 constituents from the 8th Congressional District and the number one topic by far was gas prices. One thing we discussed was the fact that we import $600 billion worth of oil annually. Think of the dramatic impact $600 billion would have if, instead of sending that money overseas to buy oil, we kept it here at home to create American jobs and create American energy. But instead of offering real solutions, the Democratic Congress is offering sham legislation.

The House recently passed a bill to lower fares for mass transit as part of what Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called a “key component of a clean and green American energy future.” But that bill will force taxpayers to subsidize public transportation costs in big cities while doing absolutely nothing for people living in rural and suburban areas who don’t have access to public transportation.

Speaker Pelosi wanted to pass a “Use It or Lose It” bill to force oil and natural gas companies to produce energy from the lands they lease from the federal government. But federal energy lease holders already must produce oil or natural gas within five to 10 years to remain in compliance with their lease terms and with the law. This law was passed in 1992, and Speaker Pelosi voted for it then.

Democratic leaders refuse to let the House vote on a bill that would let oil companies build new refineries on closed military bases. We haven’t built a refinery in this country in 30 years, and while the existing ones have expanded somewhat, we need to build more to meet our ever-increasing demand. House Republicans have tried to introduce legislation to streamline the approval process for new refineries down to about seven years, compared with the current 10 to 20 years but those beholden to the radical environmental lobby continue to block it.

Democratic leaders also refuse to let the House vote on increasing domestic oil and natural gas drilling. We need to drill for oil on the Arctic coastal plain. The total area we’re looking at is the size of South Carolina ; the area in which the drilling would take place is akin to putting a postage stamp on a football field. Another area where we need to drill is in deep-ocean energy zones far off the U.S. coast, where it’s estimated we could find 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The main reason we’re in this mess is because of misguided federal rules that prevent us from tapping into our own resources based on the mistaken notion that exploration in these remote areas cannot be done in a manner that does not harm our environment.

If I believed we had other sources of energy to turn to right now, I might agree with leaving our natural resources under lock and key. But we don’t, and so it’s all the more critical that we start the process of creating more American energy. It’s going to take at least 20 years before alternative sources like wind, water and solar help meet a significant part of our energy demand. In the meantime, we have no other choice but to go after our own resources if we want to lower gas prices.

As you may know, a nickname for the Republican Party is G.O.P., which stands for “Grand Old Party.” A Democratic colleague recently referred to us as the “Gas and Oil Party.” Compared with the Democrats’ stubborn position of no new domestic energy, no drilling for oil and natural gas, and their continued worship at the altar of radical environmentalism, I’m proud to belong to the party that is actually trying to do something to lower gas and oil prices and help make us energy independent.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Hoorah! Look, we have 1.8 trillion barrels of oil in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming in the form of oil shale. At today's rate of consumption, this will last us 240 years!!!!!

"Drill and Mine US Oil--Buy and Refine US Oil!", and do it now.

There is an argument that it will take 5-10 years, so it really isn't worth the effort. As I heard a listener on the RL show state, paraphrasing "It's going to take 4 years to get your college degree. Why bother?" and its chief blogger stand firmly behind any congress person who stands behind energy independence and security. And to those who don't, we are sending the message "Drill and Mine US Oil--Buy and Refine US Oil!" If you are like minded, join the fight.