Scenic photo of Dismals Canyon

Speaker Pelosi Should Allow Oil Exploration in ANWR

August 10, 2008
In The News

Speaker Pelosi Should Allow Oil Exploration in ANWR

Since Last Friday, House Republicans have stood with the American people in a nationwide protest against Speaker Pelosi’s decision to adjourn the House for the rest of the summer without a vote on the energy solutions Americans are demanding.

This is why I returned to Washington on August 6th from the District Work Period to speak on the House Floor about possible solutions to high gas prices. I was proud to travel back to Washington to join other House Republicans on day four of this historic protest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to adjourn the House without an energy vote.

Even though gas prices have decreased over the past 4 weeks, Alabama families and small businesses are still paying about $3.75 per gallon of gasoline, according to AAA. President Bush lifted the executive order banning off-shore exploration on July 14th and gas prices have started coming down ever since.

This is great news, but the President’s action alone is not enough, since identical congressional bans remain in place. Just imagine what would happen if Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader allowed a vote on off-shore exploration in Congress.

On July 31st, I submitted a resolution that addresses the cost of high-gasoline prices. The resolution, which is called the “Enhancing Energy Independence Resolution” (H.Con.Res. 401), expresses that America can become more energy independent using today's technology without massive taxpayer expenditures.

In this column, I will discuss a one topic that my resolution addresses about in great detail, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Oil exploration in the ANWR has been the topic of great debate this year and also the source of much anxiety among many environmentalist groups.

First of all, I think it’s important to note that oil exploration and drilling in our nation’s refuges is not something that is new. According to information provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we drill for energy resources in 11 other refuges besides ANWR, including Montana’s 1,680 acre Hewitt Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota’s 86,000 acre Crosby Wetland Management District, and Louisiana’s 48,000 acre Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

The Coastal Plain of the ANWR, which is the area commonly addressed in energy legislation proposals, is about 1.55 million acres of the 19.6 million total acres of ANWR.  This land is a barren tundra with no of trees and frozen for most of the year. 

In July, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and several of my colleagues traveled to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Colorado and the ANWR.  On the trip, Members saw revolutionary new technologies up close and learned that wildlife and American energy production can successfully coexist right now in an environmentally-responsible manner.

I believe that exploration in ANWR should be one of the focuses of an energy plan that reduces gas prices by harnessing new technologies and increasing energy production here at home in an environmentally-safe manner.

Most Americans would agree that we should have access to energy from more domestic sources than foreign. The daily oil production from ANWR could be greater than the amount of oil than the United States imports from Saudi Arabia.

Some believe that exploration in this land would hurt the environment and alter the eco-system but it’s important to consider that exploration would be conducted on only 2,000 acres of the 19.6 million acres that constitute the refuge.

Exploration in ANWR could also improve our economy because of the massive job creation that would result from it. The energy industry estimates that the proposed development of the coastal plain will create 500,000 new jobs in Alaska and the lower 48 states.

Despite all of these benefits of exploration in ANWR, we have policies in our country that are prohibiting us from exploring our own natural resources. If President Clinton hadn’t vetoed 1995 drilling legislation, we would be producing a million barrels a day from ANWR right now.

An energy policy for our nation should not be a debate about whether it’s a Republican or Democrat issue – it’s an American issue. It’s about our economic security and, most importantly, our national security.  The American public doesn’t care about which party wants to do what; they just want us to produce energy, and that’s what exploration in ANWR would provide.

Over the following weeks, I plan to continue to discuss more options that Congress is considering, in order to drive down the price of oil. As always, I appreciate your thoughts and input on this important issue.

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For release the week of August 10, 2008. For more information, please contact Darrell “DJ” Jordan at (202) 226-7602.