Weekly Columns

We are paying the price for missed opportunities every time we fill up at the pump. If we had policies in place to explore and develop the vast natural resources the U.S. has been blessed with, the stop at the gas station would not be nearly as painful. However, those missed opportunities add up and are now being amplified by an Administration that stalls American production at every turn.

With high energy prices, we need to do what is necessary to decrease these costs we are forced to pay while improving our supply. While this has been debated in Congress for decades, little has been done to open up areas of our country rich in the natural resources that will allow us to gain energy independence from countries we currently rely on for oil.

During my tenure as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I had the opportunity to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, our nation’s largest untapped field of oil. I talked with the residents of northeast Alaska about the possibility of opening this up to oil and gas exploration in an environmentally sound manner. They were eager to begin exploration on a portion of land no larger than Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, well aware it could be done in an environmentally safe manner, and well aware of the benefits it could yield.

I have supported opening this area up to energy production, but the proposal has never been approved. Ten years ago, the Senate missed an opportunity to provide American-made energy available here. During the debate, opponents argued that it would take up to 10 years for the oil to reach the market. This was a poor reason for blocking additional energy production. In mid- April, we passed the 10 year mark of that excuse and we fare no better.

If it were not for that vote, up to 1.5 million barrels per day of additional oil could be on the market today. When the Senate defeated this amendment, the national average cost for a gallon of gas was $1.45. Today the national average is $3.89.

We need to right this wrong and work to increase our supply of American made energy. In his State of the Union address President Obama spoke of his support for an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policy. This means using America’s natural resources as well as developing alternative and renewable energies like wind and solar.

I am onboard with an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach for a long term solution to our energy needs. However, a real ‘all-of-the-above’ approach would include increased drilling at home.  The latest estimates released from the U.S. Geological Society show that America has 26% of the world’s recoverable conventional oil resources. And right now, we could really use the resources available to us in untapped reserves like ANWR.  Our nation has been blessed with valuable natural resources. It is past time we used them.