Monday, August 18, 2008


Republicans in Congress are staging a historic 21st-century Boston Tea Party on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Aug. 1, Speaker Nancy Pelosi - without addressing gas prices that continue to hover near $4 per gallon - adjourned Congress for five weeks, dimmed the lights, turned off the microphones and C-SPAN cameras and attempted to remove the press and visitors from the House chamber.

Republicans refuse to leave the chamber because the issue is about much more than gas prices. It is about much more than energy. It is about the U.S. economy, jobs and national security. It is about who we are as a people.

It is about the U.S. airline industry, which is laying off flight attendants, mechanics, pilots and airport workers. It is about the American auto industry laying off assembly workers and closing plants. It is about the tourism industry and hundreds of other industries and workers from coast to coast.

The Capitol is the People’s House, not the Speaker’s House. More than 70 percent of Americans favor increased American energy exploration, yet the Speaker of the House refuses to allow a vote on a real energy bill that reflects the people’s will. Over the last 30 years, radical environmentalists - represented by Mrs. Pelosi and her allies who better reflect her San Francisco congressional district rather than the rest of America - have effectively prevented any meaningful American energy production.

They shut down nuclear energy, oil and gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refugee, and the construction of new oil refineries.

The net result of such a radical agenda is that our dependence upon foreign sources - that use less environmentally conscious methods than the United States - has escalated from 20 percent of the gas we use to 70 percent. We send $1.2 billion a day overseas to buy oil from foreign countries, damaging our economy and enriching countries that, in many instances are not our friends.

We can no longer defend buying oil from the Middle East, Russia or South America when we have our own supply off our coasts, under public lands in the Western United States and in Alaska, and in millions of tons of oil shale. Liberal Democrats in Congress are forcing us to compete in the global free market with one hand tied behind our back.

Every month the United States runs a trade deficit of $60 billion, most of which is related to energy. Imagine the impact on the U.S. economy if we invested that money in the exploration and production of American energy. It would lead to job creation, it would ripple through the economy, the dollar would strengthen and we would finally see some stability in energy prices.

Look at the extraordinary development in Dubai, the unfettered spending by Venezuela, and the vigorous economic boom in the Middle East. The United States has the ability to benefit from a similar economic opportunity, but Mrs. Pelosi is ensuring that the U.S. economy remains a bust that fails the people of Michigan and Arizona.

Our refusal to use American oil and natural gas resources also emboldens hostile nations and leaves our economy vulnerable to acts of terrorism.

Democrats frequently say America is funding both sides of the fight with radical jihadists, and they are right. Every dollar we spend on oil from the Middle East or Venezuela, costs us jobs while funding our enemies either directly or by providing income to people who bankroll them.

Why not resolve the problem by allowing for bold solutions that produce more American energy and allow us to achieve energy independence?

An “all of the above” strategy that includes U.S. energy sources, improving energy efficiency, emerging technologies and renewable supplies such as wind, solar and geothermal and conservation must guide America’s energy future, and will allow us to realistically wean our economy off fossil fuels.

Ingenuity is the essence of the American people. We have faced and overcome every challenge placed in our way; we won our independence from Britain, the most powerful nation in the world at the time; we defeated fascism and communism; we conquered polio; and we put a man on the moon. We will overcome this energy crisis, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other defeatists notwithstanding.

Republicans should continue the 21st-century Boston Tea Party in Washington until Democrat leaders heed the American public’s call to action and allow America to access the significant energy resources we have placed off-limits for purely political reasons.

Not one more barrel of foreign oil. Not one more American laid off because we choose to leave our vast energy resources untapped. And, not one more dollar spent to fund our enemies.

Pete Hoekstra of Michigan and John Shadegg of Arizona are Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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