by Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah)
Since the election, the country has focused on how to recover from the current economic situation. However, I believe that one of the greatest challenges President – Elect Obama will face is the problem of our dependence on foreign oil which was one of the contributors to the recession. While gas prices have dropped recently, we still remember $4+ gasoline. We cannot forget that energy fuels the economy and most of this energy comes from foreign nations that loathe America’s values of freedom and democracy.
During the election, you may have seen commercials featuring T. Boone Pickens, the Texas billionaire who made all of his money on oil and gas. Pickens has put his money where his mouth is, and called on the next Congress to enact a plan for domestic energy independence within the first 100 days of the new Congress.
America consumes 24% of the world’s oil and imports 58% of the petroleum we use. So, yes, we need to drill for more oil within our borders as a bridge to the future, but we must also diversify our energy portfolio. We must expand other domestic resources like natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear power along with wind and solar. By doing this, we can begin to reduce the amount of foreign oil we import immediately. Currently, we are spending $700 billion per year on imported oil and that number is only expected to increase. The sooner we can start spending some of that $700 billion here at home, the sooner we can break our addiction to foreign oil, see new businesses and job creation, and stimulate some sort of sustained economic recovery.
Every U.S. President for the last 40 years has told us they have an energy plan, but nothing ever gets done. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work right away to solve this problem. Georgia is encouraging more use of biomass and renewable energy as well as expanding nuclear power production, but Congress must take the lead.
One way elected people can express their support for becoming energy independent is to sign the Pickens Energy Independence Pledge. I hope all of our elected officials here in Georgia will also join me and sign the pledge at www.pickensplan.com and work to make it happen.
As soon as President-Elect Obama takes office, he and Congress must make energy independence a top priority in Washington. Energy is tied hand-in-hand to the economy and must be addressed or we will be right back where we are now – out of fuel, out of money and out of work.
Sen. Eric Johnson of the 1st District serves as the Senate President Pro Tempore. He represents Bryan County and portions of Chatham and Liberty counties. He may be reached at 404.656.5109 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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