Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ending America’s addiction to Middle East oil

From: The Washington Times' Insight Magazine

Issue Date: May 1-7, 2006, Posted On: 5/1/2006

Collins: Ending America’s addiction to Middle East oil

Commentary by U.S. Rep. Mac Collins

The United States is addicted to oil. Congress, the federal government and big business have been aware of this problem but like most addicts they failed to correct their destructive behavior until they hit rock bottom.

It is essential to our nation’s security that this country becomes unshackled from its dependence on foreign oil. This is not a time for academic or elitist debate on environmental impact. This is the time in our history to put an end to fossil fuel reliance through energy independence.

There is a solution and it does not lie in trade relationships with Middle Eastern nations that, even at their best, view us as tolerated customers as opposed to valued allies. The solution to America’s energy woes can be found right here at home. The development of alternatives to foreign oil such as bio-fuel made from wood byproducts; ethanol made from corn; the reduction of unneeded government regulations on the building of domestic oil refineries; and the drilling for new sources of domestic oil in locations such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) all hold the key to our freedom from foreign oil.

No problem can be solved overnight and the United States has certainly waited too long to address this great failure. However, despite the failure of past energy policies, the Bush administration and my fellow Republicans are embracing a new policy that, if not hampered by the opposition party, will result in not only energy security for the United States but a level of national security that we do not have now. The development of underutilized, readily renewable domestic resources holds the key to our independence.

Last year, 157 Democratic members of the House of Representatives voted against our energy bill in a display of partisanship that did not help this problem one bit. I am thankful that my colleagues in the Republican Party were able to overcome the opposition’s unpatriotic objections to what will be the first stage in our nation’s energy future. The everyday use of ethanol and bio-fuels as a substitute for petroleum-based energy sources will take several years to accomplish, even under the best of circumstances. Therefore, in the short term, the United States needs to aggressively develop our enormous, and almost infinite, domestic energy resources.

The first stage of any successful energy program will be the development of the resources that already exist. Right away, for example our nation can eliminate the regulations that stand in the way of building new refineries. Furthermore, we will drill for oil at ANWR in Alaska. I do not believe that domestic oil production alone will safeguard our future energy needs. The time has come for the United States to look forward and develop renewable alternative energy sources that can be found on our family farms. Both wood based bio-fuels and ethanol will fill the gap between our ability to produce petroleum domestically and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Rather than continuing to enrich Middle Eastern oil sheiks, the time has come for those dollars to find their way into the pockets of our own citizens. This can be accomplished by directing both private and federal research dollars toward developing the resources that exist in our very own fields rather than recklessly continuing to funnel our hard-earned money to nations, and terror havens, that do not share America’s interests or values.

Mac Collins is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Collins served 12 years in Congress, and in the Republican leadership of the House as a member of the Republican Steering Committee and as Deputy Majority Whip. He was also a member of the Ways and Means Committee and the Intelligence Committee.