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An Introduction

The Problem:

We have all felt the effects of the rising cost of oil: $4.00 for a gallon of gas; soaring heating bills, especially for Midwesterners during the past winter; and rising food costs, due both to increased costs of transportation and the use of food to produce fuel. And with analysts discussing an economic recession, Americans are worried about increased costs for food and fuel.

Concerns over energy extend beyond America as well. Countries worldwide face food shortages and even riots, due in part to American energy policies. The war in Iraq continues to be focal point of debate over energy, highlighting our reliance on foreign oil. And President Bush's recent trips to negotiate with King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia over gas prices demonstrate America's undesirable position.

The Solution:

Clearly, the pursuit of alternate energy sources addresses long-term concerns over oil dependency. But while these successors to oil are becoming more viable, most are still too expensive or undeveloped to be practical. Or, like hybrid vehicles, they continue to rely on oil to function. While alternative energy may be our future, Americans need a solution now to rising costs associated with oil, and dependency on foreign oil.

One immediate solution may be literally under our feet. Right now, America has untapped oil fields in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) of Alaska, in the Bakken Formation of North Dakota, in the Green River Basin of the Western U.S., and off the cost of California. The Gulf of Mexico also holds oil reserves, currently being mined by Cuba. Drilling in these areas has been opposed for years by organizations rightly concerned about the environmental impact of oil rigs and pipelines. But modern oil extraction techniques minimze the impact on the environment surrounding drilling sites. Congress should no longer hesitate to open these areas for oil production.

The Reason:

To be clear, increased American production may not immediately reduce high oil prices. Due to the location of the oil and the drilling technology required to extract it, oil companies may need as much as five years to begin production. And once that happens, oil prices may not drop significantly.

But America will clearly benefit from more drilling within our own borders. First, analysts are optimistic that the untapped U.S. oil reserves could replace much of our foreign oil for years to come. Americans pride themselves on self-reliance; this should extend to natural resources that we possess. Second, more drilling means not only more American jobs, but also more money kept in the American economy instead of leaving the country. With uncertain economic prospects, domestic oil production could stimulate economic growth.

Congress must act now so we can achieve energy independence.