June 07, 2011

REDUCING ENERGY COSTS BY DEVELOPING A COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY POLICY


By:  Senator Ben Cardin

Source: Salisbury Daily Times

This spring, Americans struggled with high gasoline prices and unpredictable energy costs as gas at the pump soared to more than $4 a gallon. While these high gas prices have recently receded somewhat, no one should be lulled into a false sense of security that future energy prices will permanently stabilize at substantially lower prices. 

Today’s energy prices are pegged to an extremely volatile, unpredictable world oil market.  At the same time, the Big 5 oil companies continue to make huge profits – more than $35 billion in the first four months of 2011 alone – all while reaping more than $4 billion a year in unneeded tax subsidies.  The reality is that we will continue to be captive to unstable energy prices until we develop a comprehensive energy policy that is smart and sustainable.  America’s energy future requires a new focus on energy efficiency and deployment of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.  We need to develop alternatives to oil for transportation such as bio-fuels and a greater deployment of hybrid and all-electric vehicles.

While “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” is a catchy slogan, it isn’t a viable long-term solution to energy security.  The sad fact is that while domestic oil production has increased by 11 percent in the past two years, we continue to rely on imported oil, making us vulnerable to price escalations. We’re the world’s third largest crude oil producer and account for 11 percent of the world’s petroleum production, yet we have 2 percent to 3 percent of the world’s total oil reserves and consume more than 25 percent of the world’s oil.  Breaking our addiction to oil is ultimately the only way to reduce our dependence on foreign energy.  

Reducing our oil appetite is not only critical for lowering energy costs – it also is a matter of national security.  Oil-rich countries such as Iran and Venezuela pursue political objectives that are often at odds with U.S. foreign policy and oil money flowing into the Persian Gulf has been used to finance terrorism.   

We need an energy policy that will help America build a sustainable, low-carbon economy that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs for the future.  The International Energy Agency estimated that every dollar spent on clean energy projects in California created nearly four times as many jobs as an equal investment in oil and gas.

Rather than using precious tax dollars to subsidize the Big 5 oil companies that have made nearly $1 trillion in profits in the last decade, we need an energy policy that makes sense. That requires making the right choices today by investing in energy efficiency improvements and clean energy technology that will make us safer, preserve our environment, and strengthen our economy.  Our nation’s future depends on it.

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