With heightened unrest in the Middle East, the price at the pump continues to soar. Gas prices averaged $3.46 per gallon in Mississippi last week, according to AAA. That is approximately 80 cents more expensive than this time last year. For families and businesses, this rising cost can be overwhelming, further threatening our weak economy.
President Obama recently called for increasing American energy production to raise supply levels and add confidence to the market. However, actions are more important than speeches. While the President’s administration has hindered energy development, I have joined with other Senators to offer legislation that promotes exploration and production of our domestic resources. These solutions would help lower gas prices and create meaningful jobs in Mississippi and across the country.
A Bill to Increase Energy Production
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has slow-walked the application process for shallow and deepwater oil and gas development. Because of these short-sighted policies, U.S. oil production is expected to fall by 110,000 barrels per day in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. To make up for this loss, we must import more oil from foreign sources.
Recently, I cosponsored the LEASE Act, introduced by Senator Hutchinson (R-TX), that would extend the life of leases for offshore oil and gas exploration. These leases have been left in limbo since the Obama administration issued a moratorium on offshore energy activities following the BP Deepwater Horizon tragedy last year. Leaseholders continue to pay rent during this suspension, so extending the leases for the same period makes sense. I remain committed to working to encourage a responsible permitting process.
Reducing Gas Price Spikes
Another solution to help with rising gas prices is to address the chaotic gas blend system in many parts of our country. Current mandates require special blends of gas be used in different states and cities. This complicates the supply chain and often causes unexpected price hikes if a specific boutique blend is in short supply.
I am a cosponsor of the GAS Act, which seeks to reduce the probability of these spikes by simplifying our complex gasoline system. This bill, authored by Senator Blunt (R-MO), would allow reductions in the number of approved boutique fuels and allow communities more regulatory flexibility in times of temporary shortage. Alleviating shortages in various parts of the country and streamlining the system could offer some important relief to many.
Unlocking America’s Resources
Gas prices have nearly doubled since President Obama took office two years ago. During that time, this administration, mainly through the Environmental Protection Agency, has placed unnecessary and harmful regulations on American energy production. These arbitrary rules on America’s energy resources put our energy producers at a competitive disadvantage with their counterparts in other countries.
In his recent address on energy, the President said, “producing more oil in American can help lower oil prices, create jobs and enhance our energy security.” If he is serious about that, he should immediately stop putting up roadblocks to U.S. production and support the efforts fellow Senators and I have been advocating. Otherwise, we will remain dangerously dependent on foreign energy sources, costing Americans at the pump and in employment opportunities.