I share the concerns of many about the energy challenges we face as a country. Ever-increasing energy costs are making it more difficult for families to make ends meet, harder for U.S. businesses to stay competitive and making every single item that U.S. consumers purchase more expensive. However, there is no silver bullet or quick fix to reducing the cost of energy.
In the 112th Congress, I was proud to be a co-sponsor of H.R. 909, the Roadmap for America’s Energy Future this legislation promoted energy policies that would facilitate the production of traditional resources, as well as support the rapid development of market-based alternative energy sources. The Energy Roadmap focused on the continued use of traditional energy resources as well as support for the development of market-based alternative energy sources which includes everything from natural gas, solar, wind and nuclear. Until alternatives energy resources are able to provide the energy needed to power our country, we will have to rely on a mix of both traditional means while developing the alternative energy solutions for the future.
That does not mean that Congress should abrogate its responsibility. Our country needs Congress to develop and enact a comprehensive energy plan that involves tapping into our domestic energy reserves, increasing nuclear energy usage, encouraging refinery construction, research and development into new energy sources, using more renewable fuels and ensuring that we use energy efficiently. The bottom line is we need an all-of-the-above solution to our energy crisis.
Our country needs to encourage the domestic production of our natural resources, and renew its commitment to safe and emissions-free nuclear energy. According to the Department of Energy, the safest and most efficient way for utility companies to control carbon emissions is to increase their supply of nuclear energy. We need to streamline the burdensome regulatory process and ensure the recycling and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel. In addition we can increase our domestic energy supply by lifting restrictions on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the Outer Continental Shelf, and oil shale in the Mountain West. Revenues generated through domestic production will support innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar technologies.
Additionally, I believe that these revenues can not only be linked to fostering new energy innovation, but it can also be used to help finance a long-term and fully paid-for highway bill. Linking new energy production to transportation funding is a win-win for our country, and I was a strong advocate in the 112th Congress to do just that. I lead conversations with the House Speaker and Transportation Committee Chairman, and urged them to link new oil and gas leasing revenue with funding for a long-term Highway Bill. This would not only be good for America’s energy security, but it would mean that we can fund important transportation projects without adding to our national debt. Additionally, I authored a letter to President Obama, co-signed by 110 other Members of Congress, and asked for his support of a long-term Highway Bill. I look forward to continuing the conversation as we look to fund a new Highway Bill in the 113th Congress.
In 2011, I visited the Bakken Field in North Dakota. This area is an example of success in domestic energy production and job creation. This area is estimated to hold billions of barrels of recoverable oil and natural gas. The United States has more undiscovered oil and natural gas than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Qatar…combined. It’s imperative that our country access these resources, or else we will continue to depend on foreign nations for our energy supply.
In 2012, The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that by 2020, the U.S could surpass Saudi Arabia in oil production. This is because of new technology including hydraulic fracturing.
Aaron on a tour of the Bakken Shale
I have also been an advocate for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would deliver more than 700,000 barrels a day from Canada and points in the U.S. to Texas. This project would not only be good for our energy security, but it would be good for American jobs. It is unconscionable that President Obama has abrogated on his responsibility and is delaying this project that could create over 300,000 American jobs, and would add an estimated $115 billion to US GDP by 2025. I have co-sponsored legislation and written numerous letters to the Administration regarding the importance of this issue.
I am supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard II (RFS) which will help grow our domestic supply of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The more American grown energy that we can produce, the better. This is not only good for our energy security, but it is good for consumers, the environment, and Illinois farmers. The current Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) need to be maintained. This means renewable fuels will be required to be blended into 36 billion gallons of transportation fuel by 2022. This is even more important with the great uncertainty that is perpetuating in the middle-east. With just a 5% reduction in oil production, oil could hit $120 a barrel, meaning $4 a gallon gasoline.
When various amendments were offered during the 112th Congress that would have had a negative impact on renewable fuels, I always took a stand and voted to support these alternative forms of energy. We need to give consumers a real choice at the pump, which is why I sponsored HR 2231, which would have put 53,000 ethanol blender/flex pumps at gas stations nationwide. We need to ensure the proper infrastructure is in place for consumers to use different types of fuels such as ethanol I am proud to support this American grown form of energy, and I will continue to pursue ways to ensure that ethanol is widely used and available.
During last Congress, I introduced bi-partisan biodiesel legislation, HR 2238, which would extend the current biodiesel tax credit for 3 years. I am pleased to report that portions of this legislation were signed into law as part of the “Fiscal Cliff” package. Biodiesel is a by-product of soybean oil that can easily be turned into a sustainable domestic energy source. As the economy continues to struggle, the extension of this important provision is seen as a positive development to assist the agriculture community. In 2004, when the incentive was initially enacted, the U.S. produced 25 million gallons. In 2009, that number rose to 545 million gallons. In 2009, the U.S. biodiesel industry supported 23,000 jobs in all sectors of the economy. This added $4.1 billion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generated $828 million in tax revenue for federal, state and local governments, according to National Biodiesel Board. Roughly 11 billion gallons of biofuels were produced and sold in the United States in 2009, according to the CBO.
As we move forward, we must place a maximum inventive on the research and development of domestic energy. I am working on legislation to accomplish these goals, and am crafting it in such a way so that does not pick winners and losers.