Fuel Choices for American Security Act would set goal
Published 7:07 pm Monday, April 24, 2006
Any of you who have stopped at the service station in recent days to fill up your car's gas tank have probably noticed that you're paying a much higher price for fuel.
Last week we saw oil prices hit a record high, rising to almost $72 a barrel. In fact, fuel prices have more than tripled since the start of 2002.
Fears of a confrontation with Iran, a major oil exporter, have been the main impetus behind these most recent spikes in prices.
The Iran situation combined with increased demand and problems at refineries including the lingering effects from last season's hurricanes show that prices may not drop any time in the immediate future.
Rising gas prices are an alarming trend; particularly at the beginning of the season when families pack up their cars and head down the highway for vacations and trips across the country. The high cost of fuel can certainly play a large role in determining if and when families take these vacations.
So, what do we do to combat this problem? The solutions are certainly not easy.
Even with the Energy Policy Act signed into law last year, the problems highlighted by last year's hurricanes reveal that much more needs to be done to limit the United States' dependency on foreign oil and gas.
In previous columns, I have discussed the need to open the Outer Continental Shelf, also known as OCS, in the Gulf of Mexico. This will be an ongoing issue for the remainder of the 109th Congress as we decide which states have control over leases in the Gulf.
I have cosponsored two bills that would allow the OCS to be opened for exploration: the Outer Continental Shelf Natural Gas Relief Act (H.R. 4318) and the Domestic Energy Production through Offshore Exploration and Equitable Treatment of State Holdings Act of 2006 (H.R. 4761).
H.R. 4318 and H.R. 4761 will allow states to take advantage of submerged lands on the OCS to explore the development of natural gas.
Last week, I joined 58 of my House colleagues and became a cosponsor of H.R. 4409, the Fuel Choices for American Security Act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).
The Fuel Choices for American Security Act would set a national goal of cutting our dependence on oil imported from the Middle East by 2015. As you know, global instability has major ramifications on our gas prices, and by reducing our dependency on the Middle East, we ensure more stable prices at the pump.
This legislation would also accelerate our use and development of existing technologies and fuel alternatives by providing tax credits to people who buy hybrid vehicles and to gas stations and automobile manufacturers to increase their use of flex fuel technologies.
Reforming our immigration laws will also continue to be a priority as Congress returns to Washington this week.
Over the past few weeks, immigration reform has been the focus of much media attention, and I have received calls, e-mails and letters from many of you on this topic.
Many of us watched on our televisions as thousands took to streets across the United States to protest immigration legislation being debated in the Senate.
At the end of last year, the House passed a bipartisan border security bill, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act.
The House legislation would impose sanctions on employers who hire illegal workers and would require employers to verify social security numbers and alien identification numbers with the Social Security Administration and DHS to ensure their employees are legal.
It would also take steps to secure our borders, which is the first step in fixing our current immigration system.
While I am opposed to amnesty, I do believe that we need a means to allow temporary workers to register for temporary legal status for a fixed period of time and be required to return home at the end of that period.
Many industries that are vital to the economy of the First District, including seafood, agriculture, hotel and lodging, require the assistance of seasonal workers.
Allowing workers to register for temporary legal status and requiring them to return home at the end of that time would provide our industries with these much needed workers, while upholding our rule of law.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents the people of the Brewton area in the U.S. H ouse of Representatives.