The following oped by Rep. Ed Royce appeared in the Orange County Register.
Today, 80 percent of world oil reserves are owned by government-owned companies and controlled through cartels. Saudi Arabia nationalized Aramco; Iran seized British Petroleum in the Persian Gulf; Hugo Chávez two years ago commandeered Venezuelan oil fields run by European companies; and every March 18, Mexico officially celebrates oil expropriation day (which, coincidentally, coincides with the last time major maintenance was done on the oil fields expropriated in 1938 from American companies). This government control dramatically affects the price Americans pay at the pump.
Yet Congress shrugged as a former CIA director warned of the OPEC oil cartel, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, deliberately lowering production levels in order to drive oil to $140 a barrel, in a bid to siphon $10 trillion from our economy to OPEC cartel members over the next 10 years.
Fortunately, we can fight back. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said "that a 1 percent increase in supply could lower prices by 10 percent." We have that 1 percent, and more.
So what's with this indifference as consumers and policy-makers lay out the case for more supply? The congressional Democratic leadership has made a commitment to maintain the moratoriums against new drilling, new refineries, new nuclear power and the opportunity to extract oil from shale.
Conservatives, believing that market economics still have consequence, have pushed the American Energy Act, which lifts these prohibitions and could increase supply by 33 percent.
A majority in the House of Representatives is now feeling enough heat back home that they would vote for increased supply. But the congressional leadership has blocked from coming to the House floor not only the American Energy Act, but all other amendments that might lift any of the prohibitions on new energy.
The American Energy Act would:
•Open our deep-water ocean resources, providing an additional 3 million barrels of oil per day to our domestic supply. Cuba operates in these waters today.
•Open the Arctic coastal plain, providing an additional 1 million barrels of oil per day. Russia's state-owned Gasprom last month was preparing two drilling platforms for the Arctic.
•Allow development of our nation's oil-shale resources, providing an additional 2.5 million barrels per day. Canada is developing its oil sands.
•Cut red tape that hinders the construction of new refineries. None has been built in 31 years.
•Extend the tax credit for alternative-energy production, including wind, solar and hydrogen.
•Eliminate barriers to the expansion of nuclear power production. France gets 80 percent of its energy from nuclear power; California gets 13 percent.
The American Energy Act also provides tax incentives for businesses and families that purchase more fuel-efficient cars. It provides incentives to those that improve their energy efficiency, and it spurs the development of alternative fuels.
With gas prices increasing, it is vital that we utilize our nation's vast energy supplies. At the same time, we should continue to develop new, clean technology. This would significantly reduce our use of foreign oil. Doing so is an economic necessity and is vital to our national security.
Royce, R-Fullerton, is an original co-sponsor of the American Energy Act.