- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Foreign oil is funding our enemies. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is funding the Castro regime in Cuba and narcoterrorists in Columbia. Iran is funding Hezbollah militias. The Persian Gulf nations are funding al Qaida, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Taliban. Russia has doubled its military spending in the last five years.

Why? Because they are charging American consumers more than $130 for a barrel of oil and we have no choice but to pay it.

America needs to declare its energy independence from dictators, extremists, and those who want to destroy our freedom and our democracy.

We need a common sense American Energy Plan. Congressional hearings, angry jabs at oil companies, calling for higher taxes and government regulation may sound good, but they offer a zero chance of lowering oil prices and making the United States energy independent.

If we came together as a nation today, we could stop importing overseas oil by 2015 and begin protecting America’s national security, lowering gas and home heating prices, creating jobs and protecting the environment.

Just before Memorial Day, I introduced legislation to establish July 4, 2015 as America’s Energy Independence Day – the day the United States would no longer need to import overseas oil. On that day we will have strengthened our economy, national security and environment.

The American Energy Independence Act calls for using the technology we have today to invigorate innovation and engage all of our resources to produce American-made energy.

Under my plan everyone gets involved. For example, I would create incentives for consumers to get older vehicles off the road and replace them with new, more fuel efficient cars and trucks. If we got just 10 percent of cars built before 1993 off the road, we could save two million barrels of imported oil per day and see a major reduction in emissions.

Another necessity for our future is new nuclear power plants. With our new technology, we can build nuclear plants run on renewable fuel that releases no emissions into the air, yet creates jobs for America’s working families. One new nuclear power plant creates as many as 4,200 new jobs. With 40 new plants across America, we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 178,000 barrels daily.

Another step I think we need: shifting the nearly $2 billion dollars the federal government spends each year studying climate change and use those funds to take action. Let’s make that investment instead in the nation’s research universities that are working on alternatives like bio-mass fuels that will create renewable fuels and reduce emissions.

We also need to tap new American supplies of oil in an environmentally friendly way. We need to access American oil in as few as 2,000 of the 19 million acres in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve as well as in the dozens of miles off the coasts in the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. In fact, Cuba is already planning to drill for oil off Florida’s coast and sell it to China, but the U.S. prohibits itself from providing for its own needs from the same source. These two sources of oil should yield 2 million barrels a day, and could create as many as 1 million new jobs.

My comprehensive 10-step bill calls for investing in wind and solar power, promoting conservation in our homes and businesses, providing incentives to automakers to build next generation cars like plug-in hybrids, and transitions airline jet fuel to coal-to-liquid fuel.

These are crucial actions we need to lower gasoline prices at the pump, reduce electricity and natural gas bills, protect our environment, and make America safer and more competitive.

Unfortunately, political in-fighting has kept Congress from dealing with our energy crisis. That impasse threatens our very future.

Please join the grass-roots voices who are declaring July 4, 2015, America’s Energy Independence Day.

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, serves on both the House Energy and Commerce and Intelligence Committees.

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