Americans need relief at the gas pump

By Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative Florida District 18
Published On: Mar 15 2012 02:33:42 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 15 2012 02:37:51 PM EDT
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Voices

Dear Friends,

Rising gas and energy costs are taking even larger chunks out of American wallets. We have seen a gallon of gas rise from $1.89 in January 2009 to over $3.80 today.

Nearly 25 million Americans are unemployed or are unable to find full-time work and the national debt tops $15 trillion. Now we have high fuel costs dragging on our struggling economy, hurting families and making it harder for small business owners to hire new workers.

Americans need relief at the pump. This can only come from increased domestic energy production and a decrease in our dependency on unstable, more expensive imported fuel. This includes development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear, geothermal and biomass, along with American-made oil and natural gas. A comprehensive plan will help protect the environment and improve our economic and natural security.

The price of gas going through the roof is partly attributable to threatened, disrupted, and restricted oil supplies in the Middle East due to political turmoil in producer nations. These events have heightened anxiety among investors and physical traders of oil, which has caused prices to rise and remain at high levels. Stubbornly high gas prices demonstrate how our economic and national security are threatened by reliance on unstable sources of oil.

In particular, the dangerous and belligerent policies of the Iranian regime threaten U.S. economic interests in addition to security interests. Iran is designated by the State Department as the world's leading state-sponsor of terrorism, and utilizes its oil money to finance other rogue regimes, such as Syria, and regional and global extremist groups such as Hezbollah. Iran is a rogue and unpredictable actor, and we cannot leave ourselves dependent upon sources of oil which could be severely impacted by the reckless actions of the regime and its surrogates.

I am a strong supporter of increased production in American-made energy in an environmentally safe way. This includes drilling for oil in Alaska and oil shale development in the American West. Oil shale resources in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming equal 6 times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Development of oil shale resources and technology is vital in providing a safe domestic source of energy at a time when our nation is most in need of additional energy resources. Still, it is essential that our energy policy not disregard the importance of protecting our environment. We must continue to protect and preserve our economic interests while equally protecting our cherished natural ecosystems.

Above all, what works in one state may not work for another. That is why I remain opposed to drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The possibility of a spill directly threatens our costal community’s water-centered way of life and the lifeblood of Florida: tourism. The consequences of a possible offshore drilling catastrophe to South Florida’s world-renowned coral reefs, robust fisheries, pristine beaches, and tourism-supported small businesses outweigh the theoretical short-term benefits, especially when there are projects with more potential to increase production at far lower risk.

One such proposal stems from the discovery of Canadian oil sands – this alone has the potential to change the current gas price dynamic. If this resource was allowed to be produced and brought to market as quickly and efficiently as possible, it could significantly rebalance global oil markets toward North America’s favor. We already import more oil from Canada than any other country and the enormous potential of this politically and economically secure source of energy can restore market confidence and could help gas prices -- bringing us a step closer to eliminating our dependence on Middle East oil imports.

Unfortunately, President Obama has twice rejected the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. The President’s decision is good news for China but terrible news for the millions of Americans who want and need jobs and energy independence. If the President would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project, our domestic supply would increase by 302 million barrels of oil per year.

Given that oil prices are at an all-time high, it is past time that real solutions are put on the table. The economy suffers catastrophically because of these high prices and the burdens being placed on American families only continue to grow. I am committed to measures that lower the price of gas in a responsible way and end our crippling dependence on Middle East oil.

Sincerely,

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Member of Congress

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