Weekly Columns

We Need A Comprehensive Energy Plan

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Washington, March 2, 2011 | comments

Unrest in the Middle East is causing gas prices to skyrocket, with oil prices surpassing $100 per barrel.  This price spike threatens any economic recovery in our own country and underscores our nation’s need for a common sense, comprehensive energy plan that moves us to sustained energy independence.

Our country is too dependent on foreign oil.  In the short-term, we must take steps to ensure our nation is not held hostage to the prices set by the Middle East.  That means we need to look for new sources of oil wherever we can find it, including Alaska, the Outer Continental Shelf and from shale in the west.  With the need to create more jobs in our country, development in the former moratoria areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and other restricted areas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Rockies would directly create 160,000 new jobs by 2030, according to ICF International.

We need to use American innovation to accelerate technology that burns coal more cleanly because it is the most abundant energy source in our country.  We also need to build new liquefied natural gas facilities, which will increase our natural gas supply. 

Nuclear technology is the cleanest way to produce energy, and expanding our nuclear power is a crucial part of a comprehensive energy plan. Ultimately, we must increase the amount of nuclear power because it is reliable and emission-free. Expansion will also facilitate job growth.

Over the long run, I believe alternative energy sources, like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric and agricultural products and technologies are part of the solution.  However, it’s important that we recognize that many of these technologies are, at best, years from being widely available and not yet commercially viable, which means that we will continue relying on more traditional energy sources for quite some time.  Any energy policy that simply ignores our existing energy sources is one that could cause great economic harm.

As part of a comprehensive energy policy, we also have to recognize that burdensome environmental regulations are often at odds with our goal of producing more energy.  No one I know wants to harm the environment, but new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and regulations are unnecessarily slowing development and having a negative effect on American jobs. The EPA has a reputation for over regulating, while ignoring potentially devastating economic consequences. Instead of penalizing businesses, why not incentivize companies with tax credits to reduce their own emissions?  This way, we are not punishing American workers and sending jobs overseas, which would happen under the EPA’s proposed cap-and-trade plan.  Tax credits have proven effective time and again at producing desired change in business.

Energy independence is one of the greatest goals we can achieve as a nation. The solution to reduce rising energy costs involves looking forward, not backward. Bringing down the cost of energy will not happen overnight, but is essential to consider ways we can all make our own use of energy more efficient. I stand ready to work together with Congress and the Administration to come up with logical solutions that lead us to energy independence – all while working to reduce our emissions, grow our economy and enhance our national security.

 

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