Vote is Needed on Legislation to Make America More Energy Independent
By Congressman Michael Turner
As consumers have gone to the gas pump this year, they have seen the dramatic consequences of America’s lack of energy independence. The increase in the price of gasoline has made everything from the drive to work to the cost of groceries more expensive. Recently, I joined many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives and hundreds of citizens on the House floor to demand a vote that would change America’s energy policy. I support a piece of legislation called the American Energy Act. This is legislation that would create a comprehensive energy policy that includes expansion of existing resources, development of alternative fuels like wind and hydrogen, and also provide for domestic oil drilling.
For much of this session of Congress, Republicans and the general public have been urging passage of measures that would increase America’s energy independence. I believe that passing comprehensive energy legislation would not only help to address the gasoline price crunch currently being felt by Americans, it would also pass the House with a bi-partisan majority. Unfortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to bring legislation containing drilling to the floor for a vote. Instead, the Speaker chose to go into a regularly scheduled month long August recess without properly addressing the energy crisis. My colleagues and I, along with our constituents, are frustrated by gas prices and the lack of attention to an issue vital to the American people.
My Republican colleagues and I chose to stay on the floor of the House and protest the Democratic leadership’s decision to leave town without addressing the high cost of gasoline. Because leadership had already gaveled the session of Congress to a close, we gathered informally and without even having the chamber lights or the C-SPAN video cameras and microphones turned on. Members of Congress spoke without preparation about the urgent need to expand our domestic energy production and that it was wrong to leave town without addressing this serious issue. I walked out into the hallways and invited tourists visiting the Capitol to come onto the floor with us and take part in this historic protest.
While drilling alone is not a complete answer to high gas costs, it is a crucial element of a larger effort to move toward energy independence. I have consistently voted in support of legislation that encourages the exploration and development of available domestic petroleum resources to help increase our energy supply. I am confident that oil exploration can be accomplished in an environmentally safe manner through strict regulatory supervision and 21st century technology. Our country should also immediately begin constructing new refineries to help increase the pace and efficiency of gasoline production. Unlocking this untapped resource will put America on the path to energy self-sufficiency and make us less dependent on foreign sources of oil. The increased supply will bring down the high cost of gasoline over time.
Though I believe drilling will help our energy crisis, it is critical that we increase our focus on alternative energy sources. The American Energy Act will permanently extend the tax credit for wind, solar, and hydrogen energy production which creates a greater incentive to utilize these alternative sources. The American Energy Act will also create a trust fund for renewable energy using the revenues from additional oil exploration. The legislation would also provide tax incentives for businesses and families to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles and establish a prize for development of the first car to reach 100 miles a gallon. These policies combine to address America’s energy needs for the present and for the foreseeable future.
Families across Southwest Ohio and our nation are feeling the impact of rising gas prices. I am greatly concerned about this issue and believe that immediate action is necessary to address this growing problem. I will continue to advocate for common sense energy solutions and push Congressional leadership to allow a vote on legislation supported by a majority of the Congress and the American people.