As families across Kansas begin to plan for summer vacation, many are scaling back this year because of increasing gas prices. Escalating gas prices have also impacted business owners, who have been forced to pay higher costs to cover utility bills, and producers who have been paying more to bring their commodities to market. Consumers have also faced higher prices for goods and services because of the rising cost of transportation fuel. Higher energy prices are not only threatening our global competitiveness, they are hampering our economic recovery, and they will continue to rise until we take serious steps toward developing more of our country’s natural resources.
Our country has some of the most plentiful, affordable and reliable energy resources available. In fact, the Congressional Research Service has reported that America has greater energy resources than China, Saudi Arabia, and Canada combined. Technological advances have made the exploration, extraction, and transportation of these resources safer and more efficient– but unfortunately, the Obama Administration has repeatedly blocked efforts to expand domestic energy production. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, oil production on federal lands fell by 14 percent and natural gas production fell by 11 percent over the last year.
To increase domestic production and decrease our country’s dependence on foreign energy sources, I have sponsored the 3-D Act, which would require the Administration to: reverse their cancellation of dozens of oil and gas leases; open areas previously restricted to responsible oil and gas development; and streamline the environmental review process to allow for meaningful reviews, while also preventing unnecessary litigation.
The Administration has also delayed projects that will improve our energy infrastructure and energy security such as the Keystone XL pipeline. This private enterprise would create an estimated 20,000 jobs and bring billions to the U.S. economy. Instead of putting the entire project on hold, we should allow construction to begin in areas not subject to the re-routing so jobs can be created and our nation can have greater access to a more reliable energy source. S. 2041, which I have sponsored, would do just that.
Utility providers have also been targeted with increased regulations that threaten consumers with higher rates and the real possibility of rolling blackouts. Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) that will force utility providers to choose between either providing adequate power and facing criminal penalties or cutting power and running afoul of reliability laws. I have introduced S.2300 to give Kansas utility companies the necessary time to comply with these new emissions standards.
The EPA has also issued a new regulation on industrial boilers used for energy production called the Boiler or Utility MACT. This regulation along with a new emissions rule proposed earlier this year will effectively prevent any new coal projects from coming online – which will only drive up utility costs for consumers. I have sponsored S. 1392, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, to nullify the MACT rule and allow utilities to continue to pursue coal as a means of providing electricity to their customers.
Renewable energy must also play a role in supplying our energy needs as new technologies allow for the increased commercialization of renewable fuels. Kansas is a leader in wind production and second only to Texas in wind resource potential. Innovation in biofuel production has also increased our ability to develop additional energy from renewable sources available in Kansas.
Nuclear energy is another necessary component that will help supply our nation’s future energy needs and allow our country to be less reliant on other nations. I will continue to support initiatives to spur growth in the nuclear energy industry, including initiatives to streamline regulatory compliance.
Energy exploration must also be accompanied by energy conservation. When Americans drive more efficient vehicles and occupy energy-conserving buildings, they not only consume less energy, but they save money. At a time when gas prices are continuing to climb, we need to be looking for more innovative ways to help consumers save money on energy bills.
For the United States to remain competitive in the global market and to meet our country’s energy needs, Congress must develop a comprehensive national energy policy. No single form of energy can provide the answer. By reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy and developing our domestic resources, our country’s economic and national security future will be brighter and more secure.