America’s energy future needs to be stable, diverse and affordable

Democrats recently managed to pass legislation they labeled as a “green energy bill.” The fact is that the bill lacks energy and the green will be the higher prices families will have to pay if it is signed into law. The Democrats’ plan for our energy future is to force Americans to cut back on energy consumption at a time when Americans are starving for affordable energy.
By passing this bill, Congress is telling the country to go on an energy diet.

The majority’s bill fails to provide for any meaningful increase in energy supplies or production, will increase the price of gasoline, and impose new mandates on energy providers translating to higher electricity prices for all consumers, but will hit low and fixed income Americans the hardest.

It is important for Americans to realize how this bill was created and what the costs will be. Democrats have successfully obstructed and frustrated meaningful energy proposals since 2001. Now after assuming the majority, they claimed that they would solve the energy crunch that they helped to create — they claimed that they would do something to lower the price at the pump. Yet, their legislative product lacked energy and they opposed amendments that would have provided the action necessary to lower prices. Perhaps the most notable example was when the Democrats voted against the Gas Price Act, the only amendment that would have lowered gas prices at the pump and improved U.S. energy and economic security. One estimate of the energy bill’s legacy — with its so-called price gouging provisions and new mandates on energy providers — has the price of fuel at the pump more than doubling by 2016.

America’s energy supply should be stable, diverse, and affordable. That means we must work to increase domestic energy production, especially by expanding domestic refining capacity of oil, coal, and cellulosic biomass ethanol. Throughout my experience on the Environment and Public Works Committee I have worked to craft legislation and conduct hearings to meet these goals.

In addition to the Gas PRICE Act, I have worked to pass legislation and conduct extensive oversight of the EPA and other federal agencies in order to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens on oil and natural gas producers and other forms of energy including wind to ensure America has a strong energy future. I am proud of several provisions I authored that were in EPACT (Energy Policy Act,) including provisions on hydraulic fracturing and stormwater compliance for oil and natural gas production facilities. As chairman of EPW, I held a hearing on the administration’s spill prevention control and countermeasures program (SPCC) highlighting deficiencies and data gaps to the current program and advocating for changes that would reduce the burden and its costs on small, independent oil producers.

The development of a safe, clean and affordable nuclear energy future remains one of my top priorities. Since joining the EPW Committee in 1995, I’ve worked closely with my committee members to increase critical oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). As a result of our vigilant oversight, the NRC has moved to a risk-based regulatory process that is more objective, efficient, and predictable. For the first time in over 30 years, utilities are planning to build new nuclear plants, and the NRC is far better prepared to process those applications because of these improvements.

I successfully worked with my colleagues to create a comprehensive program to increase the use of renewable fuels in the United States in a measured way that makes economic sense. The Reliable Fuels Act, ultimately incorporated into the EPACT, encourages the production and use of bio-fuels. Today many in Congress argue in favor of increasing the RFS, but I believe we should maintain the current standard and take a closer look at the impact on related industries. Growing bodies of interested parties are speaking out against increasing the corn ethanol mandate, ranging from Ducks Unlimited to a coalition of groups including Coke, Pepsi, the National Pork Producers Council, and Turkey Federation. We should take the time to hear them out.

Coal-to-liquids (CTL) continues to gain ground in the Senate because it’s domestic, abundant, and environmentally friendly. Everyone acknowledges the tremendous reserves of coal in the United States. Yet, many Americans might be surprised to learn that CTL is far cleaner than conventional fuels, and does not have the seasonal variability or transportation and deliverability issues of ethanol.

The development of cellulosic biofuels is another critical component of future energy goals. The key now is to promote investment in this exciting area, and nothing would speed the rapid expansion of the cellulosic biofuels industry more than investment by the nation’s traditional providers of liquid transportation fuels.

We must continue to look for new energy opportunities. I am proud that my bipartisan energy bill amendment to encourage the use of geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) in federal buildings was included in the energy bill. GHPs are a proven, effective, and efficient technology that can help meet heating and cooling needs at federal facilities while conserving energy and saving taxpayer dollars.

Today more than ever before, our energy policy is a matter of natural security. Developing energy at home translates to energy security, ensures stable sources of supply, fuels economic growth and keeps well-paying jobs for American workers.

Inhofe is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

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