This is Lisa Murkowski, Senator for Alaska and lead Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Japan in the wake of Friday’s terrible earthquake and tsunami. In Alaska the memories of the devastating 1964 quake are still with us. We know we’re just beginning to comprehend the magnitude of this quake and its devastation. We share and support the President’s commitment to bring America’s resources to bear to help Japan recover – and we commend the actions that he has taken so far.
This tragedy – as well as the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa – serve as stark reminders of how intertwined our world economy is; how world events beyond our control can affect all of us. It makes it all the more important that we control those things we can.
I want to speak with you today about one of the threats that we’re experiencing personally, rising energy prices. And, I want to share some of the steps that Republicans are ready to take right now – steps that will protect America from international conflicts, create thousands of new jobs, reduce our budget deficit, and help bring energy prices back down to Earth.
Nationwide, gasoline prices have risen by 40 cents over the past month, and have more than doubled since January of 2009. A gallon of gas is heading north of four dollars. That’s not just pain at the pump; it’s crippling for anyone with bills to pay, groceries to buy, or a long commute.
When gasoline prices go up, families and businesses are stretched thin. Budgets are harder to balance and jobs are destroyed. If energy prices keep climbing, our nation could slip back into recession – just as we’re finally emerging from the last one.
The worst part of this emerging crisis is that our own government deserves much of the blame. International events have pushed prices higher, but our own short-sightedness and restrictions have also played a critical role.
Some in Washington believe higher oil and gas prices, driven even higher by proposed new taxes, are needed to make Americans behave the way they think they should. Higher energy prices are their explicit goal. They don’t realize or don’t care about the damage to the economy, the pain to a mom as she fills her minivan, or a farmer as he tries to bring in a harvest.
America now imports 11 million barrels of oil every day. Last year alone, we spent more than $330 billion on foreign oil, much of it in countries that are not our friends.
We don’t import oil because our domestic reserves are exhausted. Not even close. Since 1919, people have claimed that America is ‘running out of oil.’ It might surprise you that we’re still the world’s third-largest oil producer, and seem to find more whenever we actually look.
Republicans know that it’s past time to produce more of America’s oil. My home state of Alaska alone has estimated resources in excess of 65 years’ worth of Persian Gulf imports.
Republicans would end the de facto moratorium on new development in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Rocky Mountain West. Instead of canceling leases and refusing to issue permits, we need to put people back to work.
It’s also time to shelve the bad ideas. Democrats have repeatedly sought to increase taxes and fees while slowing the permitting process. That won’t solve any problems, but it will mean less production, more imports, and higher prices. To boost production, we need to cut red tape and streamline regulations.
Both supply and demand affect oil prices, and that’s why Republicans support both new production and alternatives to reduce consumption. But we’re also thinking about what comes next, and we’re committed to making progress on cleaner energy – that’s just not our only goal. We also want energy to be affordable, abundant, diverse, and domestic.
For far too long, our nation has lacked a coherent energy policy. For too many decades, opponents have argued against vital long-term policies because they won’t produce instant gratification. We’ve ignored the tremendous benefits of American oil production – jobs, money, and security – and now we’re facing the consequences.
Republicans believe that Americans deserve better, and we believe the federal government can do better. We’re ready to make meaningful progress on energy, and we’re hopeful that our Democratic colleagues will join us.”