The fate of cap-and-trade legislation in Congress remains very much up in the air. No one is prepared to say its dead. But no one least of all the Obama administration is prepared to say that its a priority right now, either, as job creation is the political imperative for leaders in both parties.
Today, too many Americans are out of work. Today, we will send $1 billion overseas to satisfy our appetite for foreign oil, while the Chinese will continue their massive investment in clean energy technology. Today, our nation faces an economic crisis, an energy crisis and a global climate crisis.
In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged Congress to pass legislation that would promote job creation. I completely agree and embrace his call for a focus on our economy and jobs. But I caution that as we move forward we need to focus our work on creating opportunity, not more regulation and bureaucracy and not more bailouts and spending-heavy stimulus bills.
Last month, President Barack Obama spoke to Republicans at our annual retreat and asked for our ideas on how to strengthen our ailing economy. I appreciate that offer to work constructively together to help put Americans back to work. Mr. President, because you asked, the following is one Republicans sincere suggestions on a vital part of reviving our economy. I believe that our nations vast energy reserves are key to our economic recovery.
NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently declared 2009 as the second-hottest year on record. Further, the Goddard Institute found that the last decade was the hottest in history; hotter than the 1990s, which were hotter than the 1980s, which were hotter than the 1970s.
It wasnt that long ago when gas prices were more than $4 a gallon and other energy costs were climbing as well. While the global economic downturn may have decreased pressure on energy prices, it is just a matter of time before economic growth once more pushes them higher. The challenges regarding our nations energy infrastructure, economic development, environment and the demands of society will then move energy onto the front burner. How these interests are balanced will be crucial to our quality of life, security and competitiveness in a global marketplace.
If my time in Congress has shown me anything, it is that pure common sense is often overlooked. Take energy policy, for example: Our nation accounts for 21 percent of the worlds energy consumption, and we have a heavy dependence on imported energy. Crude oil production in the United States has actually declined in the past decade from 5.8 million barrels per day to 5.4 million barrels per day. Common sense tells us we should use all the energy tools in our energy toolbox to expand domestic oil, natural gas and coal production and reduce our dependencies on foreign sources, while transitioning to greater use of renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydropower, as well as building new nuclear power plants.
At a time when people are asking, Where are the jobs? thousands of high-paying jobs are waiting to be created in Americas energy industry. Jobs can be created today by further developing Americas natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, and expanding on new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, a critical tool in tapping the huge potential of our countrys natural gas supply.