Today, we are set to continue our efforts to address high gas prices by voting on the "Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act," an important bill that will increase our domestic ability to refine crude oil by reducing bureaucracy and streamlining the permit approval process. We must increase the production of refined petroleum here at home rather than importing it from other countries whose interests are not necessarily in line with ours. As member of the House International Relations Committee, I can tell you without hesitation that we do not want to be dependent on countries like Venezuela for refined petroleum. One way to end that dependency is to increase the amount of refined crude oil we create here at home. It is hard to increase that domestic supply when we have not built a refinery in the U.S. in thirty years. Getting refineries online is important to increasing production here at home, but that also needs to be combined with an increase in domestic exploration. This is why I am glad we recently took another vote on opening up a small portion of the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) to oil exploration. Oil exploration in ANWR is essential to helping drive down gas prices in the long run. In fact, at peak production levels, development in ANWR could deliver us an additional 1.5 million barrels of oil per day. It could become the single largest conventional energy resource in America. And it can all be done while we protect the natural beauty of the Refuge.

The passage of the "Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act" today will be another key step toward weaning our country off of foreign oil. Hopefully the Senate will follow our lead and take up this important bill and the ANWR bill. We have the ability to drive down gas prices over the long-term and it all starts here at home.