Weekly Columns

What Can Be Done About Gas Prices On The Rise?

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Washington, May 11, 2011 | comments

Sustained gas prices nearing $4 a gallon are putting pressure on families all across Tennessee and around the country who are already struggling to pay bills and keep food on the table.  Restrictive policies by the Administration are causing energy prices to skyrocket, and they are costing American jobs.  This country needs an energy initiative that reduces gas prices by producing more domestic oil.

Last week, I joined the House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a group of members focused on promoting energy policies that will make America more secure and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil. HEAT members are working to make sure Congress enacts long-term energy policies that over time will lower the price at the pump.

I am also a member of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Energy Working Group, which recently introduced H.R. 1777, the Consumer Relief for Pain at the Pump Act. This legislation will increase the supply of North American energy and lessen regulatory burdens, mandates, and prohibitions that unnecessarily increase the price of gasoline.

I am also pleased that after years of inaction, the House is starting to enact common-sense reforms.  Last week, the House passed the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, which will require the Administration to move forward promptly to conduct offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia that have been delayed or canceled.  We cannot afford to stifle production and hope for the best.  Bad policies and regulations enacted by the Administration have consequences – they cost jobs and raise energy prices. 

This week, the House will consider two additional bills to change Administration policies that are hurting consumers.  Because the Department of Interior has effectively put in place a moratorium on new drilling permits by refusing to consider many applications, H.R. 1229 requires the secretary of Interior to act on Gulf drilling permit applications within 30 days. It also requires the Department of Interior to restart permits in the Gulf of Mexico that were approved before the May 2010 moratorium on drilling was put in place. 

In addition, H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, lifts the President's ban on offshore drilling and requires the Administration to establish a five-year offshore lease plan in productive areas with the goal of producing three million barrels of oil a day by 2027.  Passing this legislation is an important step forward because it lifts regulations that are contributing to even higher petroleum and energy prices. 

By contrast, the President is urging the Senate to vote this week on a measure to deny oil companies $21 billion in tax credits and deductions routinely given to other businesses. But raising taxes on oil companies will only result in higher gasoline prices.  According to the Congressional Research Service analysis, “the proposals also would make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence.” Further, with fewer incentives to drill domestically, many oil companies will look to move business overseas, resulting in fewer American jobs.  I would ask the president – how are higher prices and fewer jobs good for us? 

We need to do everything we can to ease the pain at the pump. That is why I teamed up with my colleagues for the energy initiatives, and it’s why I am voting for legislation to lower energy costs.  This is what will put us on the path to energy independence.

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