Our country’s next great national project must be to shed our dependence on foreign oil and transform our energy sector. We need to approach this task with the same enthusiasm and intensity with which we approached President Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon. Six US Presidents have talked about ending our dependence on foreign oil but we have not yet had the political will to get it done.
I believe America’s dependence on foreign oil (up from 22 percent in 1970 to 70 percent of our oil today) threatens more than just our environment. Our reliance on oil from many dangerous and unstable countries does have serious implications for our national security and our economy. It makes our economy susceptible to costly spikes in crude oil prices and creates significant national security issues/costs. To break our dependency, we will need to reduce our imports of foreign oil by several means:
- We need to continue to improve energy conservation. Reducing energy waste will be good for both our national economy and environment.
- Obtain more oil from within the United States, at least during the transition to cleaner sources of energy. To reduce environmental risks, the regulatory review and permitting of offshore oil drilling and production should be moved from the Department of Interior to an agency with a better track record of protecting the environment such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Transition to power plants with reduced emissions, including exploiting the newest technologies in the nuclear energy sector. During this transition, existing coal power plants may benefit from retrofitting of improved emission control technologies.
- Finally, and most importantly, we must accelerate the development of alternative and renewable sources of energy here at home. In doing so, we can boost U.S. manufacturing in the burgeoning “green energy” sector. This effort will also include a massive upgrade of our energy transmission capabilities to prevent brown outs and black outs.
This private/public plan must be led at the highest levels of industry and government. As your Congressman, I will be a leader in pushing this effort. The national security implications of this problem combined with my background in the military, give me the motivation to make this a high priority.
Many experts say that the best way to level the playing field between the old oil industry and newer technologies is by putting a price on carbon (cap and trade being one system to account for the price of carbon emissions.). I will become more educated on this because of my concern about potential impacts on the economy.
Lastly, the largest industrial/farm subsidies our Federal government distributes is to the oil and gas industry. With record prices and record profits in this industry, I will fight to get rid of those subsidies and use that money in our private/public partnership to develop green energy.