Drilling in ANWR will Cut Gas Costs

America’s gas prices are continuing to spiral out of control and Washington has done nothing to give our nation’s motorists the relief they deserve. Record high prices are having a major impact on American consumers and businesses, from the way people travel to the way they do business to the food they buy at the grocery store. Congress has the ability to decrease prices at the pump and get our nation back to $2 a gallon gas – and it means accessing our nation’s available resources and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) today.

Last weekend, I traveled to northern Alaska to view firsthand the vast supply of natural resources America possesses. As I expected, ANWR was nothing more than a barren land, an arctic tundra void of wildlife and trees. During most of the year, it’s completely blanketed with ice and snow. Also, of the 19.6 million acres that makes up ANWR, the area which would be used for oil exploration is a small 2,000-acre lot. That is not even 1/10 of 1% of the total area of ANWR. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 10.4 billion barrels of oil are recoverable in ANWR. If retrieved that would mean a possible 50% increase in total U.S. proven reserves and thousands of new domestic jobs.

It’s critical that Congress make lowering our gas prices a priority and set its political games aside. Yet, Democrats in the majority continue to block commonsense legislation from coming to the floor. In fact, they’re using parliamentary maneuvers to keep Republicans from even offering pro-energy amendments.

Since my earliest days in Congress, I have joined my Republican colleagues in supporting key legislation to curb our nation’s gas costs. Recently, I introduced a bill which would help us return to $2 a gallon. My bill, H.R. 6463, the Emergency Energy Cut-the-Red-Tape Now Act, would allow Americans to tap our national energy resources and provide relief from off-the-chart gas costs. It gives the Secretary of the Interior the ability to open the ANWR, oil shale reserves, and the Outer Continental Shelf, and streamline the refinery process. And if the price of oil exceeds $100 a barrel, my bill would require the Secretary to waive leasing and permitting regulations to open up these energy stores without further delay.

The United States has the ability to be energy independent. With abundant resources in areas like ANWR and the Mountain West we could end our foreign dependence on oil once and for all. Currently, the U.S. is the only country in the world that discourages using its own energy resources. Our country imports 10 million barrels of crude oil every day. And, we are importing 1.3 million barrels of refined gasoline. Having toured Alaska, I’ve seen the infrastructure that is already built and the pipeline that is not even at full capacity. We have the knowledge and expertise right here at home to procure and refine these products, get them to the pump, and create American jobs in the process.

Once these federal lands that have been off-limits are open to exploration, we would immediately begin to tap into our own resources, helping make us less dependent on foreign energy sources and reducing the cost to consumers. It’s clear that the American people are hurting and need immediate help. Congress must open up these lands and help Americans by exploring, producing, and putting these sources of energy into production now.