Friday, March 18, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Gas Prices and the Economy" by Rep. Bob Gibbs

Rep. Bob Gibbs
As I see prices at the pump nearing $4 a gallon, I join all Ohioans who are concerned and looking for solutions.  As gas prices go up, the cost of everyday life goes up.  We are seeing increased costs of transportation, goods and services, food, commodities, and heat.  These higher costs will be yet another obstacle for an economy trying to recover, and for families and businesses that are already struggling to make ends meet. 
Energy costs are a primary concern to both the private sector and individual citizens.  For businesses, the price of energy plays a huge role in determining levels of job creation and economic development.  For the average American, energy prices directly affect the cost of living, forcing families to make tough choices on how they manage their money.  In both instances, rising energy prices can have a devastating effect on our nation’s economy. 
There’s only two ways to lower the cost of oil: increase supply or decrease demand.  Demand is rising so we must increase our supply. The United States possesses abundant domestic energy resources that hold tremendous potential to increase our long-term energy supply, reduce our dependency on unstable foreign sources of oil, and create jobs. 
However, we are not fully utilizing our resources because President Obama and the EPA have us sitting on our hands while others drill off our coasts.  The President’s FY 2012 budget proposal also imposes over $60 billion in tax and fee increases on American energy production.  Higher taxes result in higher prices to consumers, and in the current environment we cannot afford to burden Ohioans with additional costs at the pump. 
To combat our dependence on foreign oil, I am urging my colleagues in Congress to pass legislation to end the moratorium on deep-sea drilling and provide for commonsense regulations from agencies like the EPA.  The recently proposed American Energy Initiative is a good first step toward a long-term energy policy that will stop Washington policies that drive up gas prices and allow us to expand American energy production.
If we are going to have a strong, growing economy, we must have a reliable and affordable energy supply.  I will continue to fight the red-tape bureaucracy that is obstructing our ability to lower gas prices in the long term, create new American jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.