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Drill Now for Alternative Energy

America’s energy crisis has reached critical mass. Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, the result of decades of misguided Washington policy, is making us vulnerable abroad, and destroying jobs and hurting families and schools at home.

To solve this crisis, we need to do it all, and we need to do it now. We need alternative energy sources – wind, solar, biomass, clean coal, nuclear. We need more conservation. And in an environmentally sound manner, we need to unlock the vast oil and gas resources that are currently off-limits to the American people in energy-rich locations such as Alaska, the mountainous West, and deepwater energy zones far off our coasts.

In short, we need all of the above.

The good news: legislation that would put the “all-of-the-above” strategy into effect – the American Energy Act – was introduced in Congress two months ago. It enjoys strong support among the American people. The bad news: Congress is controlled by the Democratic Party. And with time running short, its leaders – Nancy Pelosi of California, Harry Reid of Nevada, and Barack Obama of Illinois – have refused to allow a vote on “all of the above.”

By doing anything less than all-of-the-above, Congress is cheating our children and defying the will of the American people, who want Congress to pass the most aggressive energy reforms possible. It’s also delaying our nation’s transition to clean, alternative, homegrown energy – the very objective Democratic leaders claim to support.

House Republicans stunned Democratic leaders last month by staying in Washington throughout Congress’ traditional August break to protest Nancy Pelosi’s decision to adjourn the House without a vote on the comprehensive energy reforms Americans want. We took to the House floor every day for five weeks, even during our own convention, asking the Democratic Speaker to bring Congress back for a vote.

Our protest made national headlines and won the support of millions of Americans. Democrats scrambled to abandon their “no energy” rhetoric. But when it comes to the policy, Democratic leaders still haven’t gotten the message. They still refuse to allow an honest vote on the all-of-the-above energy plan the American people want.

Americans have run out of patience, and Democratic leaders have run out of excuses. Democrats say drilling alone won’t solve our problems. But no one is advocating a “drill-only” approach. To the contrary, the American Energy Act is comprehensive: equal parts production, conservation, and innovation. And there’s a direct connection in the bill between exploration of the resources available today for our use, and the development of the clean, alternative fuels of tomorrow.

Under the American Energy Act, our nation’s vast energy resources would be unlocked and opened for environmentally responsible exploration. A significant share of the revenues from exploration would go into a renewable energy trust fund. The money in this trust fund would be plowed directly into development and implementation of clean, renewable energy sources throughout the United States – the kind of alternative energy we need, ultimately, in order to permanently end America’s foreign energy dependence. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders have refused to allow a vote.

The more of America’s existing resources Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama keep under the lock and key of the federal government, the longer it will take to develop and achieve the widespread use of clean, alternative fuels. By blocking a vote on the American Energy Act, the leaders of the Democratic Party are blocking America’s path to clean, affordable, renewable energy.

This is why the Democratic leadership’s new “compromise” energy bill is not a compromise at all. At a time when Americans are demanding Congress do all-of-the-above, the Democratic leadership bill allows almost none of the above. To begin, it would place vast American oil and gas supplies under lock-and-key permanently. For example, by leaving out critical revenue-sharing with coastal states and banning environmentally-safe drilling up to 50 miles offshore, it permanently locks away some 88 percent of the best American oil resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. Moreover, it will produce no new energy on Alaska’s remote North Slope and in the Inter-Mountain West, where trillions – yes, trillions – barrels of oil sits idly today. Their sham bill also does nothing to tap the potential of nuclear energy and clean coal. It keeps the door slammed shut on construction of new refineries. And it would raise taxes and increase electricity costs, taking more money from the pockets of energy-strapped families at a time when they need relief.

Now is not a time for half-measures or politically-motivated window dressing. To solve America’s energy crisis, we need to do it all, and do it now. It starts with a vote on the American Energy Act. The American people deserve nothing less, and shouldn’t settle for anything less.

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