American-Made Solution to the Energy Crisis

As the House of Representatives entered its August District Work Period, the Halls of Congress echoed with the words: “We need more energy and we need it now.” In the past we have attempted to address our nation’s energy security by looking at renewables and alternatives — only to see crude oil dumped onto the international market driving down the price per barrel of oil. In this case, basic economics take over and the cheaper energy source succeeds. Because of this, crude oil has been the fuel of choice for more than a century. This economic addiction to cheap energy has led to the crisis we are now experiencing.

Today, we import 65% of our petroleum needs, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that by 2025 we will import 71% of our petroleum. While this is a tenuous situation, it is exacerbated by the fact that two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves are located in the volatile Middle East. The nexus of this instability, as well as production slowdowns in Nigeria and Venezuela, and a virtual halt to energy exploration in the United States, have resulted in the price of oil reaching an all-time high. With this in mind, it does not surprise me that year after year we pay higher and higher prices for energy — whether at the pumps or in our home energy bills. This situation has stifled economic development, put our nation’s security at risk, and placed an unnecessary burden on the family budget. Americans need to come to grips with the onerous policies of the past that are strangling us now; this is an American-made problem that requires an American-made solution. Unfortunately, Congress has tried time and again to enact solutions to expand our energy resources only to be thwarted by a vocal minority. The opposition’s only solution is social engineering by mandating that the American people change their lifestyle. This has not worked in the past and will not work today. What we need is a comprehensive strategy that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil while bridging the gap to the next generation of energy — specifically renewables. Congress has a responsibility to deal with our nation’s energy demands in a bi-partisan manner that benefits all Americans. For these reasons, 13 Republicans and 9 Democrats introduced H.R. 5890, the American-Made Energy Freedom Act. This bipartisan bill would provide short-term relief while funding a long-term solution for energy freedom. We would accomplish this by opening just 2,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to exploration and investing the federal share of the lease and royalty revenue into an energy trust fund. This trust fund would be used to pay for numerous renewable, alternative, and advanced energy programs. At $40 billion over 30 years, this trust fund would be the largest investment in renewable, alternative, and advanced energy in our nation’s history — all at no cost to the taxpayer. Within the first two years of enactment of H.R. 5890, numerous renewable energy programs would receive billions of dollars in much needed investment. This would include an infusion of investment into the next generation of ethanol (cellulosic), an expansion of the use of solar and fuel cell technology, and significant growth in the biofuel energy production industry. Moreover, the bill funds numerous renewable energy provisions that were originally authorized in the Energy Policy Act and have yet to receive significant funding. These federal investments are needed to ensure breakthroughs in biotechnology, new feedstocks, harvesting, storage, transportation, and processing to produce a sustainable transportation fuel at a price competitive with fuel from the mature petroleum industry. Furthermore, enhancing federal consumer tax credits are necessary to ensure that every home owner or small business has the opportunity to participate in our energy freedom by installing alternative energy systems that are economically viable and environmentally sensitive. Indeed, the proposals put forth in H.R. 5890 will have numerous benefits. First, it will assist us in meeting Renewable Portfolio Standards, which have been set by many states. Second, it will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Third, it will incubate technology rather than subsidize an industry. Finally, it will bridge the gap in our efforts to transition to homegrown energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Certainly, there is no quick fix to the problem, but it is clear that Americans cannot continue to afford increased energy prices. We are in the midst of the Global War on Terrorism in which the certified state sponsors of terrorism are the same radicals we rely on for our petroleum needs. We simply cannot keep sending American money to fund fanatical regimes that are determined to destroy our way of life. It is time for energy freedom, it is time for energy security, and it is time for action on an American-made solution. As Congress returns to Washington in September, we need to undertake serious debate and action on our nation’s energy crisis. Rep. Devin Nunes, a second-term Congressman from San Joaquin Valley in California, serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which fits his legislative interests in health care, trade and taxes. He was appointed to the subcommittees on Oversight and Human Resources.
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