Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big Oil’ to blame for gasoline woes

July 23, 2008

The much-needed debate about our nation's energy future has finally begun. From the rising cost of fuel to increased fertilizer prices - everyone is hurting. We all know that our country needs a comprehensive plan to address our energy future. The plan developed by Big Oil and the White House eight years ago has brought us nothing but higher fuel prices and has sent trillions of your dollars to unfriendly governments across the world.

If you've heard me talk about energy, you've heard me talk about the "three-legged stool."

First is conservation - the cheapest and fastest piece of this puzzle.

Second is an absolute determination to break our addiction to oil through new technologies, such as plug-in hybrid vehicles that rely on wind, solar, nuclear and other alternative sources. Energy prices are driven by supply and demand. We must increase energy supply and reduce oil demand with these new technologies. Third, even with alternatives and conservation, oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in our energy policy. We must use the lands currently open to drilling, like the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), and we need to invest in technologies that make it easier and more environmentally friendly to access.

As I write this, there are 68 million acres of publicly leased lands available for drilling that are not being drilled. And, 80 percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open for drilling. Today, these leases are in place; the environmental hurdles have been cleared, but no drilling is happening. The American people want to know why. So do I.

It is Big Oil's dirty little secret - they don't have the equipment necessary to do more drilling. If we opened up the remaining 20 percent of offshore areas for drilling, there won't be new rigs available to drill in those areas for years! According to the American Petroleum Institute, in a time of increasing demand and high profits, the oil companies have not been growing their stock of drilling equipment even for the lands they currently have leases for! Unbelievable.

My mom always taught me to clean my plate before asking for more. The oil companies aren't following mom's advice. They have been collecting lease after lease but not drilling on those lands. It is time that drilling started. The high price of oil helps the oil companies and maybe this is a good business decision for them, but it's killing American families, businesses and farmers.

Congress can't force the oil companies to drill, but we can pass legislation that stops the hoarding of oil leases on federal lands. I voted to do just that three weeks ago, but like other important energy bills, it is opposed by the President.

As important as it is to get this right, we cannot drill our way out of this mess. America uses 24 percent of the world's oil yet we have only two percent of the world's oil reserves. We must be aggressive about conservation and alternatives to oil. We must break our addiction to foreign oil and stop importing more than 70 percent of our oil. We must harness the ingenuity of our scientists and entrepreneurs to discover and make new technologies work. After all, if we can put a man on the moon, we can break our dependence on foreign oil. Only by breaking this dependence will we be able to restore our economy and hope in the future.

- Nancy Boyda, is a Kansas Democrat serving the state's 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives

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