Caller Times – Domestic Solutions for Lower Gas Prices

By August 12, 2011 Op-Eds No Comments

Gasoline prices have more than doubled since 2008. Gone are the days of a leisurely Sunday drive or family road trip during summer vacation. High gas prices make life more expensive and most families have no way to cut back on their fuel use. We need affordable gas to drive to work, take our children to school, visit the doctor and do dozens of others necessary errands.

Congress is working hard to lower gas prices.

The solution is simple: We must increase our domestic supply. The federal government must lease more land, expedite permits and get out of the way so that oil companies and their hard working employees can do their jobs and increase production.

Offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for about 1.25 million barrels of oil a day, close to 25 percent of domestic crude oil production. To ramp up domestic oil and gas exploration and get people back to work, I co-sponsored and voted for three important bills: H.R. 1229 the “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act”, H.R. 1231 the “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act” and H.R. 1230 the “Restarting American Off-Shore Act Now.” These bills would end the de facto moratorium on drilling and expedite the backlog of permit applications for companies and operators eager to get back to what they do best — safely drill in the Gulf of Mexico. These three bills combined would create 250,000 jobs and 1.2 million jobs in the long term. All three bills passed the House and await approval in the Senate and President Obama’s signature.

South Texas also has an opportunity to lead the world in offshore emergency response. While the Obama Administration forces oil and gas workers to sit onshore, other countries continue to drill in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Florida. These foreign drillers are not regulated by the U.S. government and we have no control over their safety and operations. The only thing we do have control over is our disaster response. It is time to reopen the Gulf of Mexico and focus our efforts on developing technologies for offshore drilling and marine well containment.

The White House and its supporters in Congress demand tax increases for oil and gas companies. This makes no sense. When gasoline is at the highest price in recent memory, why would we raise taxes? Adding new taxes will raise the cost of gasoline.

Adding more oil and gas taxes would also eliminate good paying American jobs, slow domestic production and force American families to pay higher prices at the pump. Oil and gas companies should be encouraged to explore and produce as much oil and gas as possible. These companies pay a lot of taxes. According to a Government Oversight and Reform Committee report, for every $1 million of capital expenditure that an oil company invests, the federal government collects $1.1 million in tax revenue. The call to increase taxes on oil and gas companies is shortsighted and will hurt our economic recovery.

Solving America’s energy crisis requires an all-of-the-above energy policy, where natural gas, wind and clean coal power America. Unconventional shale reserves, and technologies like hydraulic fracking, are game changers that have immense potential for America.

Texas leads the world in effective oil and gas exploration and coordination between state agencies and operators. We have been safely fracking wells in Texas to reach those valuable oil and gas reserves thousands of feet below the earth’s surface for more than 60 years. In fact, if we developed the oil reserves in shale formations right here in America, we could potentially reduce oil imports by 60 percent in less than 10 years.

Gas prices are too high and the White House has failed to solve this crisis. America has the domestic resources and motivation to lower gas prices, make our country more energy independent and create millions of jobs. It is time for the White House to work with Congress to lower gas prices and get America back on the path to prosperity.