- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If Congress ends its session this week without agreeing upon concrete steps to alleviate the energy crisis, members will have a more vehement conflict on their hands when they return in September.

After being given the executive go-ahead from President Bush, Democratic House and Senate majority leaders must call upon their members to enact legislation allowing for the offshore drilling, while also seriously considering legislation for other energy alternatives. A call echoed today in an Op-Ed by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Luckily the answer to all of their needs has been given to them in one neat package by the Republicans, called the American Energy Act. The three-pronged legislation is an “all of the above energy strategy,” which would lead to immediate relief at the gas pump for Americans and promising investments in alternative energy to avoid the current situation from being a reoccurring one.

The plan aims to increase the American-made energy supply and decrease energy dependence abroad through a variety of actions which include:

  • Opening U.S. deep-water resources as well as the Arctic coastal plain, which would provide a combined four million barrels of oil per day.
  • Permitting development of U.S. shale oil resources which could provide an extra 2.5 million barrels of oil per day.
  • Ending blocks on construction of new oil refineries, in turn, increasing the supply of gas at the pump.
  • Providing tax incentives for businesses and individuals who improve energy efficiency in their buildings and purchase more fuel efficient vehicles.
  • Establishing a renewable energy trust fund.
  • Eliminating barriers to the expansion of emission-free nuclear power production.
  • Permanently extending the tax credit to encourage alternative energy production.
  • The need for an enactable plan cannot wait until September. Winter will be around the corner, and home heating oil prices will stretch the American family to the limit. This is why Republicans such as House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio are frustrated and continue to push for action. “They’ve cobbled together phony bills in a failed attempt to fool Americans into believing the Democratic Congress is expanding our energy supply. And they’ve even silenced rank-and-file Members of their own party … who would vote for the Republicans’ ‘all-of-the-above’ plan,” he said in an op-ed that appeared Monday on Realclearpolitics.com.

    Pressure has been put on Congress throughout the week to enact some form of legislation, and yet Senate and House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid continue to allow their parties to stall the legislation despite testimony from proponents such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Mrs. Bachmann urged the use of oil shale, which could produce an estimated 1.8 trillion barrels of oil. “These resources belong to U.S. citizens and could be used to help our nation be energy independent once and for all. Congress should act to support the immediate opening of these lands and allow American companies to explore, produce, and put these sources of energy into production,” she said.

    Meanwhile, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens is proposing a wind turbine network that would stretch from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota. He asserted that it would be capable of meeting 20 percent of the country’s electricity needs, as we pointed out in an editorial on Monday. Mr. Pickens’ anything-but-foreign-oil approach also bolsters the case for solar, natural gas, nuclear power and alternative fuels to wean America off its $700 billion annual overseas-oil dependence.

    The “all of the above approach” demonstrates that the solution to rising fuel costs cannot mirror those of the past - it must be comprehensive in nature. There is no longer one solution or one source that will satisfy America’s energy needs. In fact, there never was.

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