Working to solve our energy crisis

Working to solve our energy crisis

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2008 7:00 pm
By: John Tanner

By JOHN TANNER As many Tennessee families plan to travel over the Independence Day holiday weekend, I know they face the same problem as millions of others across the country: record-high gas prices that are squeezing their household budgets and forcing some to cut back on other necessities. The gas prices are also leading to higher costs of food and other goods, slower economic growth and the loss of jobs. I wanted to take this chance to update you on our work in Congress on energy policy and the steps many of us hope we can take next to ease the crisis before it gets much worse. Drilling for oil in the United States. Accessing untapped natural gas and oil resources in the U.S. could lessen our dependence on OPEC oil exports. Federal regulations, however, prohibit access to many of those resources. I have written a letter to the appropriate subcommittee requesting that we suspend the ban on drilling so that we can increase our domestic supply of oil and gas. I will continue pushing all my colleagues in both parties to allow drilling of our domestic resources and cut down on the need for overseas oil. Investing in biofuels. Farmers in Tennessee and across the country are growing crops every day that can be converted to fuel. The most promising opportunity for biofuels is cellulosic ethanol from products like switchgrass and corn husks. Development of these fuels is a priority of Governor Phil Bredesen in Tennessee and of mine in Congress, where we have voted repeatedly to boost cellulosic ethanol production in tax legislation originating from the Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve. There were also extensive biofuels production boosts in the historic farm bill we recently passed over the President’s veto. Some analysts say that this commitment to American-grown biofuels is keeping gas prices almost 50 cents lower than they would be otherwise. Increasing energy efficiency. Last year, Congress passed the most aggressive increase in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in decades so that cars and trucks will get better gas mileage. I am also encouraged that U.S. car companies and many drivers are beginning to embrace hybrid and plug-in automobiles that also cut back on our oil dependence. Every day, Americans use about 860 million gallons of oil products and 60 billion cubic feet of natural gas to drive, fly, farm, keep warm and cool, and make such necessities as food, medicines, fertilizers and fabrics. Published in The Messenger 7.3.08

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