By Adrian Smith
The national average price of gas has increased by more than a dollar per gallon compared to this time last year, and nearly $2 over the last two years. As prices continue to rise, families and small businesses continue to struggle and frustrations mount. Congress is listening and acting on common sense solutions to increase the supply of American energy in order to lower costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create jobs.
Earlier this year the American Energy Initiative was launched to address soaring gas prices and encourage increased domestic energy production. Under the American Energy Initiative, we are working to stop government policies which are driving up the cost of fuel and taking critical steps to implement an all-of-the-above approach to solving our energy crisis.
The price of gasoline is directly related to its supply and demand, which is why we need to grow the supply of American energy. Even if it takes several years for new domestic sources of energy to produce at full capacity, beginning the projects now will calm market questions about the future. For example, when President George W. Bush gave a speech about lifting the offshore moratorium in 2008, the price of oil dropped over $9 per barrel during the speech alone.
Recently, I voted in favor of three bills – H.R. 1229, H.R. 1230, and H.R. 1231 – to help address soaring gas prices and increase domestic sources of energy, all of which passed the House.
H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, would move forward energy projects the Obama Administration has delayed or canceled by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to move forward and conduct offshore energy lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Virginia. This bill will proceed with the scheduled lease sales in a prompt, timely, and safe manner to increase American energy supply. If the bill reaches his desk and the President is willing to sign it, the measure would immediately impact fuel prices for the better.
Even though the Administration officially lifted its ban on offshore drilling last year, there continues to be a de facto moratorium limiting shallow or deepwater drilling permits, and it is costing the United States revenue and decreasing domestic production. A report by the National Center for Policy Analysis found declining oil production in the Gulf of Mexico is costing the U.S. $4.7 million a day in lost revenue.
Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration’s March 2011 “Short-Term Energy Outlook” said production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall by 240,000 barrels per day in 2011. H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, would end the de facto moratorium and restart American energy production in the Gulf of Mexico in a safe, responsible and transparent manner by setting firm timelines for considering permits to drill.
In addition to the de fact moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Administration has systemically taken steps to re-impose an offshore drilling ban which was lifted in 2008. The Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act (H.R. 1231) would require the Administration move forward on American energy production in areas containing the most resources.
While these recent actions may seem small, they are a critical, common sense steps on the path to a strategic, all-of-the-above approach to domestic energy policy which will strengthen our economy and create thousands of new jobs. More importantly, it puts us on a path which will ease cost burdens on families and businesses across Nebraska’s Third District.
For more information about energy issues, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at www.adriansmith.house.gov.