The fight for lower gas prices starts at home

One year ago, the average price at the pump for a gallon of gas was $2.80. Today, that figure has climbed above $3.50, with no relief in sight. With family budgets tight and disposable income scarce, an extra 70 cents per gallon can be a significant financial burden.

As a result, drivers across the country are increasingly wondering why we continue to import over 60 percent of our nation’s total oil consumption from foreign countries and leave vast resources here untouched.

In his speech yesterday, President Obama offered some vague platitudes, but no concrete plans to rein in those prices, even as they climb toward $4 per gallon. He told us we must pin our hopes on learning to drive less while we pump billions of dollars of our tax money into subsidies for new energy sources.

Even worse, his administration has sent a loan of more than $2 billion to Brazil to expand its offshore drilling operations. On his recent trip there the President expressed his hope that Brazil would aggressively develop its resources so that the United States could become one of the “best customers” of Brazil’s oil industry. Obama reaffirmed that insulting endorsement of foreign oil in his speech yesterday.

What’s most infuriating is that all of this is happening as the President’s own Interior Department buries new American energy projects under a mountain of regulations.

Under Obama, Interior has largely refused to issue permits to energy-producing companies here at home. But despite what the administration says, we don’t have to helplessly resign ourselves to higher and higher gas prices.

We refuse to accept that energy prices must “necessarily skyrocket,” as then-candidate Obama put it in 2008. And we reject the current Energy Secretary’s stated goal of gasoline prices climbing to European levels – currently more than $10 per gallon.

This week, we’re laying out a far different path by introducing new legislation– 3-D: The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011. It would unleash our vast domestic energy potential to create American jobs, help free us from our reliance on foreign oil and begin to reduce our $14 trillion dollar national debt.

In our home states of Louisiana and Utah, we’ve seen how our domestic energy supplies can be a powerful job-creating force, and dozens of energy producers are willing and able to drill quickly and safely to develop those untapped resources. The 3-D Act speeds up the permitting process while ensuring the responsible development of our abundant domestic resources.

President Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, recently said that the administration’s strategy for combating rising gas prices was to plead with Saudi Arabia to produce more oil. Surely we can do better than that. It’s irresponsible for us to place our long-term energy security – and the future of our economy – at the mercy of Saudi princes.

As important as our domestic energy resources are to job creation and national security, they can also play a key role in controlling our exploding federal deficits. Energy production is the second-biggest source of revenue to the federal budget – behind only the personal income tax.

The Obama administration’s desire to shift us away from a revenue-producing energy economy that develops our own resources and toward massive subsidies for unproven energy sources is worsening our already dire fiscal situation. Passing the 3-D Act puts us back on a revenue-producing fiscal path.

We can’t afford to shut off our most valuable natural resources and just hope for a miracle. We’ve had too many job losses already due to the Obama administration’s shutdown of our energy economy; allowing them to multiply across the country would be devastating. Given the recent unrest in the Middle East, placing our energy security in the hands of unstable dictators isn’t a “plan;” it’s self-destructive.

We can take concrete steps to build a more secure foundation for our economy –one based on developing our own resources, creating good American jobs and lowering the deficit.

Let’s start in Congress with 3-D: The Domestic Energy, Domestic Jobs and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011.

Sen. David Vitter is a Republican from Louisiana. Rep. Rob Bishop is a Republican from Utah.

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