No Vote Equals No Energy for America

On August 1st, the Democrats in charge of Congress sent us home without allowing a vote on a comprehensive energy policy.  This means Congress is out of session for the next five weeks—doing nothing to help relieve the high energy prices that are hurting Eastern Washington families and small businesses. 

I am frustrated about Congress’ lack of action.  Since the beginning of the 110th Congress, January ’07, the President has signed 244 bills into law.  Guess how many of those were naming post offices and public buildings?  Nearly 40%.  Twenty of them resulted in a nearly $340 billion dollar tax increase on the American public!

With gas more than $4.10 a gallon, you’d think Congress would put everything else on the back burner and focus on what’s really important to the American people: the high cost of energy.  It’s simple.  We need to lower the cost of gas.  It’s critical to our economy and it’s critical to our national security.

Since coming to Congress, I’ve voted for American energy 100% of the time. 

I am also one of the original sponsors of the American Energy Act.  The Act is a comprehensive energy proposal aimed at reducing energy costs through increased energy production, conservation and expansion of renewable energy sources like hydropower, solar and wind.  We need to move away from foreign oil and produce more of our energy here at home—including expanding the role of our hydroelectric dams.  We also need to look for ways to conserve the energy we waste every day.  It’s time we start meeting America’s energy needs with American resources, and this plan does that.

It’s clear we need an “all of the above” approach, like the American Energy Act, to meet our nation’s current and future energy needs.  On electricity production alone, just to keep up with new demand, by 2030 we’d have to build 747 new coal plants, 52 new nuclear power plants, 2,000 new hydroelectric generators and add 13,000 new megawatts of renewable power. 

The need to increase domestic oil and gas production is no different.  In the 1950’s America was one of the leading exporters of oil.  Today we import nearly two-thirds of it because we’ve put our own resources off limits.  It’s off limits to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or off the coasts of Florida or California.  We have the largest supply of coal in the world, but it’s Germany who is planning to build 27 coal-fired electrical plants by 2020.

Today, environmental regulation and process hinders most domestic energy production. One example, the National Environmental Policy Act, better known as NEPA started as a single paragraph statute in 1969 – essentially one paragraph on one page and was turned into 25 pages of regulations and has resulted in over 1500 court cases. When I chaired the task force to update and reform NEPA, I learned that the average time frame for obtaining a permit to produce natural gas has tripled.  I learned the NEPA process has caused some producers to wait more than 10 years for approval to market clean natural gas.  This fall I look forward to introducing NEPA reform legislation to improve the process and recognize we can move forward in an environmentally friendly way.

In Congress, I am working to offer real solutions like encouraging more investment in innovative energy technologies, supporting clean and safe access to petroleum resources off our nation’s shores and on public lands, and promoting investment in renewable sources of energy.  We must unleash American ingenuity.

Whether it is oil sands, wind, the development of clean liquid fuels from coal, bio-diesel, hydrogen fuel cells, nuclear power or solar energy all of these sources of energy decrease our dependency on foreign oil. They also create new markets, stimulate the workforce, and help contribute to American energy. But none of it will happen overnight. It is time we start taking action to meet our growing energy needs with American energy – and no is not an answer.

–By Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

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