As the U.S. economy begins to recover, energy markets stand to play a significant role in the recovery. Kansans are mindful of the effects energy prices have on both the local and national economic landscape.
High energy prices can pose significant challenges for Kansas households. The burden of higher gas prices is particularly troubling in rural Kansas where it is common to travel long distances for work and school. Higher energy prices increase the operating costs for many businesses, including our manufacturing industry, truck drivers, farmers and ranchers. Whether you're heating your home in the winter months; irrigating crops; or producing, transporting or using fertilizer; higher energy prices are harmful to Kansans.
For the United States to remain competitive in a global market, we must adopt a comprehensive energy policy that allows an ample energy supply that is affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible. As our population demands greater amounts of energy, it is time that Congress makes a strong commitment to develop a long-term energy policy. Responsible exploration and recovery of our country’s vast natural resources is on the rise. While oil provides our country with many economic benefits, it is important that we continue to advance technologies to help reduce our dependence on domestic and foreign sources of oil.
No single form of energy can provide the answer that will allow production of sufficient amounts of domestic energy. To solve our nation's energy problem, we must develop traditional sources of oil, natural gas and coal; encourage development of renewable energy sources like biofuels and wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower; expand use of nuclear energy; and promote conservation.
Congress took the initial step to open new areas for energy production off our coasts by allowing the congressional ban on oil and natural gas exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to expire. I was proud to be a part of the effort that got this ban lifted. This policy must be preserved and Congress must encourage the President to pursue a sensible leasing strategy to develop the OCS and other federal lands. Most of the increase in domestic oil and gas production has occurred on privately owned lands. While some in Congress and the White House accurately point out that the United States is producing more energy for its own use, this realization fails to account for the drastic decline in public land production. Oil and gas leasing on federal lands is falling at a rapid rate. In order for our country and our economy to fully realize its energy potential, Congress and the White House must work together to reverse this troubling trend.
We must also develop a long-term approach to expanding renewable energy. Our current system relies on a piecemeal set of tax incentives that often expire on a yearly basis. Businesses, including the energy generation industry, are developed based on long-term investment models. Congress needs to develop an integrated approach that will promote regulatory certainty and allow sustained investment in all forms of renewable energy.
Energy exploration must also be accompanied by energy conservation. Today’s new cars and trucks are the most fuel efficient in history, and new construction of energy efficient buildings is on the rise. I supported higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and initiatives to encourage energy-efficient buildings and appliances in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Congress must continue to look for opportunities to advance practical and cost-effective methods for Kansans to reduce energy use.
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