By Rep. Kristi Noem
With another basketball season behind us and spring track and baseball soon approaching, many families across South Dakota, including mine, are gearing up for a busy few months. As families prepare to shuttle kids back and forth to school, practices and games – they’re having to plan and budget ahead because of high gas prices. In fact, some families are being forced to reconsider trips and vacations because the price at the pump makes it too costly.
When President Obama took office, a gallon of gas cost $1.89. Today, it’s over $3.80 a gallon. While these costs hit home every time we fill up the tank, the impacts of high gas prices go further than the gas station. The cost of an airline ticket has spiked and the added cost to transport goods gets passed on to the consumer. All this combines to makes things more difficult for families already working hard to make ends meet.
There are a lot of reasons gas prices fluctuate, but bad federal policies shouldn’t be one of them. And unfortunately, under the current Administration, we’ve seen nothing but roadblocks to efforts to unleash much of our nation’s energy potential. Thanks to innovation in the private sector, we’ve actually seen an increase in oil and gas production, but that’s in spite of, not because of this Administration’s policies. In fact, oil production on federal lands and waters declined 14 percent between 2010 and 2011. It’s simply not right to stymie oil and gas extraction and production when the United States has more fossil energy reserves than Saudi Arabia and China combined.
There is no silver bullet that will suddenly bring gas prices back to $2 levels, but there are actions we can take to help. I remain committed to doing everything possible to increase production to not only help cut energy and gas costs, but also to create jobs and reduce our dependence on oil from the unstable Middle East. I have voted for and the House has passed a number of bills that would cut red tape to make the permitting process easier and expand production. Unfortunately, those bills remain stuck in the democrat-controlled Senate. The Keystone XL pipeline would also help, by bringing nearly 1 million barrels of oil per day to U.S. markets. I will continue to call on the President to put people before politics and support this pipeline in its entirety.
South Dakota is playing an increasingly pivotal role in easing prices at the pump. Earlier this week, the EPA approved blending up to a 15 percent ethanol (E15) with gasoline. Previously, the standard was 10 percent. It is estimated that E15 could reduce the costs of a gallon of gas by up to 15 cents. As a leader in ethanol production, South Dakota has a lot to gain from this decision – which is good for our farmers, our local economies and every vehicle owner and family.
As an experienced farmer, I know firsthand what a beneficial role this fuel can provide to moving us toward energy independence, which will take an all-of-the-above American energy approach. I continue to support ethanol and expanded oil and gas production key players in helping us take advantage of our vast domestic resources to boost energy production, create jobs and lower costs for hard-working Americans.