Rep. Raúl R. Labrador represents Idaho's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
As the warm weather approaches and Idahoans begin thinking of getting in their cars for summer vacations, the sight of skyrocketing gasoline prices will be troubling. These record high gas prices directly impact every sector in our economy. From small businesses to the basic needs of a family – we simply just cannot afford to see the prices at the pump become exponentially more expensive.
When President Obama took office took office in January 2009 the average price Americans paid for a gallon of gas was $1.84. But today Idahoans are paying $3.80 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline and some Americans pay well over $4 per gallon. This is a direct result of President Obama’s chosen energy and economic policies.
The President has openly supported policies that would cause energy costs to, in his words “necessarily skyrocket”. He also selected Dr. Steven Chu to lead the Department of Energy who stated in September 2008, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” At the time of this statement, the price of gasoline in Europe was an average of $8 per gallon. The President’s most senior energy advisor talked about policies to ramp up gas prices in order to encourage consumers to switch to electric vehicles and renewable energy. While I am supportive of moving our nation away from its dependence on foreign sources of oil, I do not believe this should be done to the detriment of our economy and our standards of living. Americans rely on their cars to get to work, take their kids to school and almost everything in between.
The President claims that we have record high production levels but this simply isn't true today. Thanks to the policies of President George W. Bush production increased in 2009 and 2010. After the April 20, 2010 Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the President issued a moratorium on new permits which led to a dramatic decline in production. In October 2010, President Obama lifted this moratorium but his administration has been slow in issuing new permits to drill. As a result, actual production in the gulf has been decreasing since June and is projected to continue to decrease.
This is displayed in the chart below:
While I recognize that increasing drilling of oil and natural gas will not instantaneously decrease prices at the pump, we must do everything we possibly can in the United States to begin to wean ourselves off foreign oil and produce more of what we consume.
I have also supported measures to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which can be done to mitigate the surface impact and doesn’t disrupt the wildlife habitat. We are looking at legislative proposals that improve the burdensome regulatory process while maintaining strict environmental safeguards.
As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, I supported measures that passed in the House that would allow more drilling to occur in the Outer Continental Shelf. (The 3 bills the House has passed: H.R. 1229, Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act; H.R. 1230, Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act; & H.R. 1231, Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act). Not only do these bills increase domestic production but they also hold the oil and gas companies accountable to improved safety standards and protocols. Increased drilling can occur in an environmentally safe manner. When we are able to produce energy from our public lands, royalty payments are made to the treasury which works to reduce the deficit.
In a time of rising gas prices, the American people can no longer afford the negative impact of the Obama Administration’s failed energy policies. As the summer progresses and the pain at the pump increases, I will continue to press for increased domestic production of oil and natural gas in an environmentally safe manner while waiting for President Obama to repudiate his longstanding allegiance to higher energy prices.