By Mike Fitzpatrick (U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.) represents the Eighth District, which includes all of Bucks County and part of Montgomery County. Contact him via www.fitzpatrick.house.gov.)
Independence has a special place in the American lexicon. It conveys all the things that make us Americans: Freedom from tyranny, liberty, equality, and rule of the people. Independence, and the struggle for it, have been part of our heritage since that original fight 237 years ago – right up to today’s struggle for energy independence.
The natural resources that bless our nation not only ensure our prosperity. They also guarantee that our freedoms are set on our terms, not through demands of dictatorships that use their natural resources as pawns, instead of as tools for progress.
The push for energy independence is not new. In 1973, Richard Nixon responded to the OPEC oil embargo by calling for energy independence by the end of the decade. Four years later, Jimmy Carter created the Department of Energy to consolidate U.S. energy policy and bring us closer to that goal. These actions weren’t enough, but today we are uniquely positioned to bring the goal closer to reality.
“In a tectonic shift, energy independence is not unrealistic for the U.S. in as short a period as 10-20 years,” the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the advisory body for the director of national intelligence, recently stated. By matching American ingenuity and enthusiasm to resources, North America could be energy-independent within the next decade.
We are well on our way. Energy production in the United States is booming. Much of this growth stems from new and innovative ways to extract oil and gas from once hard-to-reach deposits in North America, including the Marcellus Shale areas of Pennsylvania. By harnessing our resources through environmentally safe yet efficient means, it is likely that the United States will become the top oil manufacturer in the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia – a profound shift in the energy universe.
But technology and resources must be matched with a strategy, an “all of the above” energy plan. By combining our natural gas, oil, clean coal, nuclear, and sustainable resources as part of a diverse energy portfolio, we can position America as an international leader in energy innovation, in economic power, and in prosperity and freedom for our people, our businesses, and our nation.
In addition, by working toward energy independence from the political and economic volatility of foreign entities, we improve our security. Currently, we rely on foreign oil imports from too many countries that are, at best, hostile to the United States, or, worse, pose a threat to us. If the United States were to achieve energy independence, we would be less vulnerable to being shut out of Mideast energy supplies. Energy security means national security.
Of course, given the state of the economy, it’s also important to note that increased energy production at home means prosperity – and job creation. Striving toward energy independence will increase U.S. economic activity by more than 2 percent annually and add three million well-paying, family-supporting jobs by 2030, according to the NIC.
Ultimately, a strong energy plan will change and improve the lifestyles of all Americans, providing reliable, stable, and cost-effective sources of energy to power our day-to-day lives. It will be easier and more affordable to heat and cool homes, run cars, and power businesses.
In order to reap the benefits of energy independence, I will continue to support the Keystone XL pipeline, the responsible development of shale gas and drilling – on and off shore – and sound investments in renewable energy. I call on President Obama and my fellow lawmakers to remove unnecessary, burdensome restrictions on the energy sector, pass more pro-energy legislation, and find ways to work with, not against, energy producers.
Just as our forefathers took risks to provide independence for their families and nation, we, too, have the opportunity to secure freedom and prosperity by transforming our energy economy for the second American century.