For 27 years, Congress and the last three Presidents have imposed ridiculous restrictions on offshore production of oil and natural gas - making America the only country in the world that does not harvest its offshore energy resources.
While some in Congress like to point the finger at OPEC and 'Big Oil' for the price at the pump - the reality is, the buck stops at the front steps of Capitol and the White House.
With our Canadian friends to the north drilling off the coasts of Maine and Washington, and our not-so-close-friend Cuba drilling 60 miles off the coast of Florida, America remains the laughing stock of the world when it comes to energy production.
Our deep-ocean resources belong to every American citizen, and rightly so.
This Wednesday, June 18, members of the House Appropriations Committee will have an opportunity to lift the Congressional Moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas production. I plan to offer an amendment to the Interior Department spending bill that will modify the ban and allow for environmentally responsible exploration and production to begin 50-200 miles off our coast - leaving the first 50 miles of coastline under moratoria.
Take a look at the column I penned for the New York Post for a complete picture of the national energy crisis:
AMERICA is in an energy crisis - not because of OPEC, but thanks to the policies of Congress and the last three presidents.
Since 1982, Congress has passed laws banning the production of oil and natural gas on our Outer Continental Shelf; the last three presidents went along. But the US Minerals Management Service estimates (conservatively) that the OCS holds 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - the equivalent of 35 years of imported oil from OPEC and an 18-year supply of natural gas.
The United States is the only country in the world that prohibits exploitation of such offshore resources.
A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 60 percent of Americans support increased production of offshore oil and natural gas - but Congress has yet to get that message.
Access to our own energy shouldn't be a partisan issue. Yet last week, when I tried in a House committee to start opening up our vast offshore reserves, I lost on a party-line vote. Nine Democrats on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee voted against the measure; six Republicans backed it.
I'll offer the same amendment when the full committee meets, and again on the House floor, in the weeks ahead. I want every member of Congress on record on the issue.
High energy prices are draining our wallets at an alarming rate. By pushing US companies overseas, where energy costs are lower, they also threaten our jobs.
Make no mistake, this mess is the result of Washington's foolish policy of restricting domestic energy production and discouraging investment in it.
All too often, Washington's energy debate revolves around the notion that support for increased domestic production of oil and natural gas means opposing renewable energy, conservation and sound environmental policy.
In fact, these shouldn't be competing priorities, but complimentary ones: America must produce more, conserve more and invest more in renewables.
For this country to remain a world leader in the global economy, Congress must develop a national energy policy that considers all means - including increased domestic production of oil and natural gas, on and offshore.
America depends on fossil fuels for 86 percent of our energy needs; wind, solar and geothermal power cover less than 1 percent. Renewable energy won't be available in sufficient quantity and at affordable prices for decades - so we have no other choice than to produce more of our own oil and natural gas - or further increase our dependence upon foreign sources.
And producing our own energy will create tens of thousands of jobs - and bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in royalties. That cash can be dedicated to renewable fuels R&D, carbon sequestration and environmental cleanup of our waters - as well as programs such as weatherization and energy assistance for those most in need. Billions more would go to the coastal states for their own use and to the US Treasury.
Gasoline prices now average over $4 a gallon; natural gas is trading at nearly double last year's price. The time for Congress to act is now.
Solving our energy crisis should be the No. 1 priority of Congress and the present and future occupant of the White House. As of today, it is not."
In order for this country to remain competitive, compete in the global economy, ease the bleeding of American jobs, and bring American energy to the market, Congress must act - now.
I encourage all those who read this newsletter to call your Congressman and Senator and demand that they support legislation that increases domestic production of American energy - not increased dependence on unstable foreign nations.
With your help, America can reduce its dependence on OPEC oil, and embark on a road to energy security with American resources.
Congressman John E. Peterson is a Republican from Pennsylvania.