With the average price for a gallon of gasoline remaining over $4.00 per gallon, Americans continue feeling the effects of record-high prices at the gas pump. A recent Associated Press poll revealed that 9 in 10 Americans expect high gas prices to squeeze them financially over the next six months. These anxieties are also changing Americans’ views on how our country obtains the energy we use. Sixty-seven percent of Americans now support offshore oil and gas drilling, while 64 percent believe doing so will lower gas prices.

I recently joined 42 of my Senate Republican colleagues in introducing a bill that responds to the American public’s demand for more American-made energy. This legislation is part of our effort to reach out to Democrats in order to end partisan gridlock and find consensus that will produce results and lower gas prices for the American people.

GAS PRICE REDUCTION ACT

Our legislation, “The Gas Price Reduction Act,” can be summed up in four words: find more, use less. Our bill aims to find more American oil by lifting the federal ban on deep sea energy exploration off our nation’s coasts. The legislation gives states along our east and west coasts the ability to petition to lift the federal ban on deep sea exploration, allowing for production at least 50 miles off their shores. The U.S. Interior Department estimates there are 19 billion barrels of oil currently off limits to production in our nation’s deep waters, which equals the amount of oil we have imported from Persian Gulf countries over the past last 15 years.

Our measure also would lift the moratorium on developing oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West. There are an estimated two trillion barrels of oil in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming – more than three times the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, our legislation would pave the way to use less oil by increasing incentives for plug-in electric hybrid cars and trucks, with the goal of reducing imported oil by one-third.

AMERICANS DESERVE RELIEF

The increased cost of energy is having a serious impact on people across our country. Based on a cost increase nearing $2.00 per gallon when compared to January 2007, the average American family will have to spend $2,200 more this year on gas. That is enough for a typical family to buy eight months of groceries or to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses for a year.

BIPARTISAN APPROACH NEEDED

In order to gain bipartisan support, The Gas Price Reduction Act concentrates on common-sense solutions while excluding energy proposals that have previously drawn criticism from some members of Congress. A balanced approach to our energy problems include taking steps to find more of our own oil while also taking steps to use less oil. This legislation does just that, and both Republicans and Democrats should come together and pass this bill immediately.

Senator Roger Wicker Press Release
7/3/8