On Sunday, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the Milwaukee area hit $4.07. When President Obama took office, it was $1.89. Higher energy costs are a burden on American families and threatening our economic recovery.
In 2011, the average household spent an estimated $4,155 at the pump. In total that represents 8.4 percent of what the median family makes annually, money that could be spent elsewhere when times are tough.
Surging gas prices hit Americans not only the pump, but also at the grocery store. As gas prices increase transportation costs, small businesses and large distributors alike will shift that price burden to the consumers.
Continued political uncertainty in the oil-producing regions puts the world’s supply at risk. Issues in countries such as Iran, Sudan and Nigeria all have played a role in affecting the overall supply of the world market, while demand in emerging markets such as China and India continues to grow.
But the president has done little to reduce our vulnerability to events on the world stage by advocating for policies that only increase our dependency on foreign oil and prohibit domestic production.
It is alarming that Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu clearly communicated this political and ideological agenda when he said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Then, the president rejected the Keystone XL pipeline that would have transported up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast area.
Currently, the administration is withholding permits for offshore drilling in the Gulf Coast. Since issuing a stoppage to deepwater drilling permits in 2010, the number of permits granted for offshore drilling and exploration issued has declined by nearly 50 percent.
On top of that, the president’s 2013 budget proposal included more than $85 billion in new taxes on oil and gas, which would inevitably translate into higher prices at the pump for the average consumer.
With large deposits of more than 1.4 trillion recoverable barrels of oil found offshore, in Alaska, and in shale in the Rocky Mountains, there must be a priority placed on using our resources at home. More permits for offshore drilling and exploration must be given to help increase the supply, translating to lower prices at the pump.
By implementing the right set of policies we can both grow energy jobs and diversify our energy supply. For example, look no further than North Dakota. The state of North Dakota is on the cusp of an energy boom by encouraging the development of our vast deposits of natural gas. Not to mention, the state has a 3.3 percent unemployment rate.
Congress should act where the administration has faltered. The House passed legislation to develop our domestic resources by opening offshore and onshore areas to oil exploration, developing oil shale and creating potentially one million American jobs, according to testimony by economist Dr. Joseph Mason and analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
Every day, the price of gas ticks upward as the Obama Administration sits on their hands, refusing to develop the domestic resources we have in abundance. We should start now developing a long-term energy strategy, and I will continue to work in the House to increase domestic production and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.