June 11, 2012

Rational Energy Policy Still Needed

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Since 2008, we have experienced three periods of severely increased gasoline prices.  Idaho gas prices currently average$3.77.  High gas prices put pressure on families trying to get to work, school and elsewhere.  They also drive up the cost of food and goods and divert resources that could otherwise go toward expansion of America's small businesses and job growth.  We simply must be smarter and more efficient in our use of all forms of energy, and aggressive development of our own energy resources is needed to increase supply and decrease dependence on foreign energy sources. 

In an effort to personalize the energy crisis, four years ago, I asked Idahoans to share how high energy prices are affecting their lives.  I submitted more than 1,200 of these storiesto the Congressional Record to stress to my colleagues in Congress and the Administration the urgent need to institute a comprehensive energy policy that would decrease our nation's dependence on foreign sources of petroleum and reduce energy costs.  Unfortunately, the federal government has not established a comprehensive, rational energy policy that can help us to be independent and strong.   

Estimates indicate that the U.S. leads the world in recoverable fossil fuel supplies, but the overwhelming majority of our resources are off limits.  According to a March report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration(EIA), the Administration's statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, total sales of all fossil fuels produced on federal and Indian lands decreased by about 6 percent in the last fiscal year.  The EIA found that crude oil sales from these lands decreased by 93 million barrels during this timeframe, natural gas sales decreased 31 percent when compared with the Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 level and coal sales decreased 8 percent since FY 2008.  This gets America further off-track.

An obvious lesson of America's energy situation is that the U.S. must not become overly reliant on one form of energy, and we must be as conservative, efficient and as careful in the utilization of our energy as possible.  This requires utilization of as many energy sources, including biofuels, nuclear, hydropower, wind and solar, as we can to broaden our energy portfolio.  However, our economy is highly dependent on petroleum, and development of our own oil and gas resources is a necessary part of a successful strategy.  With the geopolitical uncertainty of supply, including political unrest in the Middle East, concern for energy independence increases.  I strongly support the Keystone XL Pipeline project because it will help our economy, advance domestic refinery of oil and utilize oil from a friendly neighbor, Canada, instead of from those countries that are often not friendly to America.   

I will continue to advocate for a broad energy portfolio that includes development of our own petroleum sources.  My support for legislation to stimulate our economy and expand domestic energy development includes co-sponsorship of the recently-introduced Western Economic Security Today (WEST) Act.  This comprehensive legislation would stimulate domestic energy production on public lands, improve the permitting process, enable proactive offshore and Alaska oil production and curb overly-restrictive federal environmental regulations. 

The Congressional Research reported that "many of the policies that can address the impact of rising gasoline prices on consumers are long-term in nature due to the long-term nature of investments which produce or consume energy."  The effects of production policies take time to translate into energy production, thus more time cannot be wasted.  The benefits of action now are clear-lower prices at the pump, more U.S. jobs, increased energy independence and a better economic future for our nation. 

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