Rising prices change lives

Published 8:04 am Monday, August 7, 2006

By Staff
We notice it everywhere-from the increased cost of everyday goods and services, to the pain we feel at the pump, to the steady increase in our monthly gas bills. Rising energy prices are significantly changing our lives.
More importantly, because we have failed as a nation to tap energy resources in our own backyard, we are dependent upon foreign sources to meet our domestic energy needs.
While there is no silver bullet that will immediately solve our current energy crisis, there are immediate steps we can and must take to alleviate some of the problem. If we continue down our current path, North America's petroleum imports from the Persian Gulf will increase by more than 40 percent in the next 25 years.  
I have said many times that only an increased domestic capacity to meet our energy demands, coupled with research in alternative energy sources and expanded use of nuclear power, will allow us to distance ourselves economically from politically volatile, oil-rich nations and improve our industrial competitiveness.
For this reason, I am proud to announce that legislation I help craft along with Senator Sessions and the other Gulf Coast Senators recently garnered the approval of the full Senate.  This legislation will open an additional 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, known as Lease 181, and the area south of Lease 181 for exploration and production of oil and gas.
In turn, this increased supply of domestic oil and gas will play a role in reducing our dependency on foreign oil and gas, and will serve as a stabilizing force in world energy markets.
In short, opening these areas to leasing translates into an estimated 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - enough natural gas to heat and cool nearly 6 million American homes for 15 years.
The benefit to our state and region will be enormous as well.  Alabama and the other Gulf States will receive 37.5 percent of the revenue produced by the drilling.  For too long, Gulf States have sacrificed and contributed to our nation's domestic energy supply without receiving any substantial compensation.
As such, I believe it is important that Alabamians begin to benefit from our continued participation in reducing our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Revenues returned to the state will allow Alabama to take important steps toward preparing citizens throughout the state for hurricanes and other severe weather events as well as address many other important needs within the state.
Sen. Richard Shelby represents Alabama in the U.S. Senate.