Wednesday, July 23, 2008

response

I recently wrote my Senator about the rising gas prices and the speculators, and asked if there was anything he could try and do, well, he responded with a nice long email, kinda cool, here it is:
"Dear Mr. Penton:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the impact of speculators on the price of oil. I value the opinions of every Nevadan and am always grateful to those who take the time to inform me of their views.

As a Nevadan, I share your frustration regarding the considerable rise in oil prices and agree that the United States must become less dependent on Middle Eastern oil. As you are well aware, we live in a global marketplace and the trading of oil occurs not only in New York or Chicago but also in places like Paris, London, Tokyo, and Dubai. I believe that Congress must address the issue of oil speculation carefully and ensure that we are not simply driving our financial services industry overseas, which would do nothing to lower gas prices.

The solution to lowering the price of oil in the United States must include increasing our domestic supply while developing alternative fuel sources such as geothermal, solar, wind, and nuclear. If tomorrow the U.S. Congress passed legislation allowing for energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); invested in oil shale and oil sands that are prevalent in the western states; allowed for the deep-sea exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); and extended tax incentives for renewable energy, the price of oil would fall over night. To that end, I have cosponsored the Gas Price Reduction Act to create more supplies of American energy.

On April 10, 2008, the U.S. Senate successfully passed my amendment, the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act, which extends incentives to encourage renewable energy. This legislation encourages electricity production using renewable energy resources such as geothermal, wind, and hydropower facilities. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representatives refused to support these common-sense provisions for promoting clean energy. In addition to bringing these alternative sources online, it is equally important that we dramatically increase domestic petroleum production and refining capacity. Our domestic production should include oil development on federal lands where I believe that there are areas suitable for further exploration which can be done in an environmentally sound way. In fact, estimates indicate that if President Clinton had not vetoed the drilling of the ANWR in 1995 an additional one million barrels of domestically produced oil would be available for the market today. Also, in addition to increasing crude oil production, we need to refine the oil into a consumer product such as heating oil or gasoline.

The United States is blessed with vast oil reserves that remain untapped. The Department of the Interior released a comprehensive inventory of the OCS resources in February 2006. That report estimated that there are 8.5 billion barrels of oil ready for extraction with another 86 billion barrels of oil classified as undiscovered resources. This area also contains nearly 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, an important fuel source for cars and trucks. Oil shale and oil sands are prevalent in the western states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. The resource potential of oil shale reserves is estimated to be the equivalent of 1.8 trillion barrels of oil. As a comparison, reserves in Saudi Arabia are only 200 billion barrels of oil.

Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Congress has placed a moratorium on exploring ANWR, OCS, and oil shale resources forcing us to import more foreign oil instead of producing it ourselves. While I fully recognize the importance of preserving America's natural beauty for future generations, I believe that we can open these areas in an environmentally sensitive manner. This would help diversify our sources of crude oil, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and improve national security.

Again, thank you for your comments on this matter. I appreciate those who take the time to make their voices heard. I will be sure to keep your views in mind should this matter come before the Senate. Once again, thank you for contacting me on this very important issue. Should you have any other questions or comments or would like to sign up for our weekly newsletter, please do not hesitate to either write or e-mail me via my website at http://ensign.senate.gov.

Sincerely,

JOHN ENSIGN

United States Senator"

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