Wicker Presses for Action to Address Gas Prices

May 12, 2008

With Americans continuing to struggle with record-high gas prices, and with no relief in sight, I have renewed my call for Congress to turn up efforts to produce domestic energy in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase our supply of American-made energy. 

To help achieve this goal, I recently joined several of my Republican Senate colleagues in introducing legislation aimed at addressing rising gas prices and strengthening America’s energy security.  Our legislation, the Domestic Energy Production Act of 2008, would produce up to 24 billion barrels of oil – enough to supply America without foreign imports for five years.  In addition, billions more barrels of American-made fuel would be made available through the development of coal-to-liquid technology and oil shale.  

                                      AMERICAN-MADE ENERGY
I have long supported policies that would allow environmentally responsible exploration of the energy reserves we have here at home.  Unfortunately, these efforts have always been stopped because of politics.  We can no longer allow some in Congress to handcuff domestic energy production in the face of current gas prices. 

Our legislation addresses this problem.  By allowing governors of coastal states to petition for oil exploration in the deep waters off our nation’s coast, our bill has the potential to provide 14 billion barrels of known recoverable oil in the Atlantic and Pacific regions of the Outer Continental Shelf.  The bill would also allow for the recovery of an expected 10 billion barrels of oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).  Had President Clinton not vetoed legislation in 1995 authorizing production in this 2,000 acre portion of Alaska, we would currently be receiving one million barrels of oil a day from the area - equal to the amount we import each day from Saudi Arabia.       

                                        IMPORTANT FOR MISSISSIPPI
Of special importance for Mississippi and our state’s coal reserves, the legislation would increase the use of coal as a source for clean liquid fuel.  The bill would mandate the production of six billion gallons of coal-to-liquid fuel by 2022, beginning with 750 million gallons by 2015.  The U.S. Air Force is already taking a leading role, aiming for half of their planes to be burning coal-based fuels by 2016.

Additionally, the bill would make it easier to tap into the more than two trillion barrels of oil shale in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.  This amounts to three times as much oil as Saudi Arabia has in reserve.  With crude oil prices over $100 a barrel, this represents a domestic energy source that can and should be used to break our reliance on foreign oil. 

                           AMERICANS CANNOT AFFORD TO WAIT
More than two years ago, now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised that Democrats in Congress had a “common sense plan” to lower gas prices.  Since that time, the average price of a gallon of gas has risen nearly $1.30.  Considering this, American families cannot afford to wait any longer for Democrats in Congress to act on record-high energy prices. 

When energy prices skyrocket because of a lack of supply, I believe common sense tells us we should utilize the energy we have in our own backyard.  American-made energy will create American jobs, lessen our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and take us down the road to cheaper gas prices.  The Domestic Energy Production Act will help us achieve this goal, and Congress should pass this legislation now.