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Taking Action to Lower Gas Prices and Achieve Energy Independence

Jul 21, 2008

     As we pay almost five dollars a gallon for gas, now is the time to reject the status quo, and tackle our serious energy challenges. That is why my colleagues and I are fighting for Congress to vote on the “All of the Above” comprehensive energy plan to strengthen America. Not only are we calling for an expansion of our American oil production, but we are also promoting the use of clean, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear power. We must put windmills where the wind blows, solar panels where the sun shines, and oil production where the oil is. Instead of favoring one form of energy over another, we believe in incentivizing research and development and letting science decide.

     Ten of my colleagues and I just returned from a trip where we viewed these real energy solutions to move us forward on a pathway towards energy independence and lower gas prices. We completed a fact-finding trip where we traveled to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as well as to Alaska’s North Slope, to get an up-close look at the cutting-edge technologies that are poised to revolutionize the energy industry, and fuel our future. 

     Established in 1974, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is now the Department of Energy’s primary research center for alternative energy sources. While there, my colleagues and I were able to get a glimpse into the future of energy technology, examining everything from plug-in hybrids and biomass fuels to solar-powered hybrid cars and wind-to-hydrogen technology. Though many of these remain long-term projects, it is clear that we can invest now in renewable energy research and technology to create these energy sources for our future. 

     After our stop in Colorado, we continued on to the Northern Slope of Alaska, where the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and the beginning of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline are located. Whereas 2.2 million barrels of oil a day were once produced and transported to the lower 48 states, the pipeline now only transports 700,000 barrels, and this is falling by 15% each year unless we produce more oil. And if the flow in the pipeline dwindles to less than 300,000 barrels, we will be forced to shut down production altogether because the pipeline will not have enough flow. Instead of relying on this dwindling supply in the NPR-A, the “All of the Above” plan calls for environmentally-friendly exploration in ANWR, which would decrease our dependence on foreign oil. Because of the increased sophistication of drilling techniques, a much smaller area of land is affected and a smaller footprint is created. In fact, the amount of land we could drill on in ANWR is about the size of a postage stamp on a football field. 

     We can lower prices by producing more. ANWR is projected to be able to produce 10 billion barrels of oil. At a recent congressional hearing on our energy situation, I presented information from the non-partisan Energy Information Administration that if ANWR produced one million barrels of oil each day (its estimated potential), that could lower gas prices by as much as fifty cents per gallon.  

     Remember, this is not only our energy policy, it is the next generation’s energy policy. Our future lies in innovation. It’s time for Congress to put aside the partisan bickering and vote on the “All of the Above” solutions-oriented energy bill to lower gas prices and achieve energy independence.