The increase in fuel prices affects many aspects of our daily lives. We rely on gasoline on a regular basis as we drive to and from work, the supermarket and our children’s schools. The prices of products we purchase have a direct relation to fuel costs — when gas prices climb, we all have to sacrifice spending in other areas to afford the increase.
For every 25-cent increase in gas prices sustained over a 12-month period, $35 billion is cut from our nation’s economy. Gas prices are fluctuating around $3.40 in the 8th Congressional District; they have already increased by 25 cents since Jan. 1 and prices are expected to continue increasing, potentially reaching $4 by April. An increase in gas prices could affect consumer spending and curb any recent economic growth.
While we make choices on how to spend our hard-0earned income, President Obama continues to play politics with our nation’s energy policy. Since taking office in January 2009, gas prices have nearly doubled in three years under President Obama’s watch. His campaign-style rhetoric would lead one to believe that America is on the clear path to an all-encompassing energy strategy. Every time I go to the local gas station, I see firsthand how misleading his words really are.
One example where the Obama administration has used Washington doublespeak is with the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline from Canada’s oil sands would have brought 20,000 jobs to the United States just for building the pipeline and oil from an ally to our nation’s refineries. Another unfortunate example is President Obama’s support of Brazilian oil companies expanding drilling off their shores while issuing a moratorium on drilling off U.S. shores.
We should be developing our own sources for oil, not encouraging consumption of foreign oil. In March 2011, while visiting Brazil, President Obama stated, “In particular, with the new oil finds off Brazil, President Rousseff has said that Brazil wants to be a major supplier of new stable sources of energy, and I’ve told her that the United States wants to be a major customer, which would be a win-win for both our countries.” The administration should not think about short-term political gains when it comes to the long-term energy goals of our nation.
Through executive orders and agency regulations, the Obama administration has declared a war on fossil fuels. Not to mention, many of these actions have a negative impact on the job market. The numbers don’t lie. Compared to 10 years ago, oil and natural gas leases on federal lands are down more than 40 percent. In 2010, the Obama administration issued the fewest onshore leases since 1984. In addition, there was only one offshore lease sale in 2011. In order to grow the economy and get Americans working, the Obama administration needs to fully embrace the all-of-the-above approach.
There are five pieces of legislation that have passed the House and currently sit idle in the Senate that would maximize domestic energy production. These bills would help bring the United States closer to energy independence and provide good paying jobs to out-of-work Americans. Speeding up the permitting process, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, restarting offshore leasing, and many other actions would all lead to the increase of domestic energy production. These are commonsense, bipartisan ideas that need to be implemented right away.
Another reason to increase the domestic production of oil is the radical rhetoric from the Iranian regime. Just this past week, the Iranians cut oil exports to Britain and France as a response to stricter European Union sanctions. Also, the Iranians have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key supply route for 20 percent of the world’s oil. These actions only add to our already climbing oil prices.
The situation in the Middle East shows that this is not just an economic issue or jobs issue. Eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, especially from our enemies, is critical to our nation’s security.
While we will not see the relief at the pump immediately, we will, for the first time in decades, have a clear energy strategy that taps the abundance of resources here at home, creates jobs, and reduces the dependency on foreign oil.
Next time I fill my car at the pump, I’ll see how ineffective President Obama’s energy strategy really is.
Rep. Larry Bucshon, a heart surgeon from Newburgh, is serving his first term as the 8th District’s
representative in the U.S. Congress.