America must face its energy challenges now and to do so, we must fully understand why America needs a comprehensive energy policy.
In 1974 - our last "oil shock"- the United States imported less than 25 percent of its oil. Today, we import about 33 percent, the lowest level since 1985.
The United States consumes about 21 percent of the world's 90 million barrels of oil per day, more than any other country.
The about two-thirds of our foreign oil comes from unfriendly or unstable nations.
Growing economies in China and India are using more energy, increasing the demand which can increase prices.
America is simply too dependent on oil. Although we have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, we need to do better. This dependence is not only an economic or environmental issue; it is also a national security risk. And, diversity of supplies is key.
In recent years, abundant supplies of domestic natural gas have helped decrease our dependence on oil -- including foreign oil -- and coal. As coal fired power plants are being retired, they are most likely to be replaced by natural gas fired power plants.
But no source of energy, not oil, coal, or natural gas, can be relied on absolutely. In order to provide security, both national and financial, we must diversify our supplies. If one underperforms or cannot meet its production requirements, the effect on the energy supply is not as severe.
That is why it is time that the Administration put an end to its delaying tactics and let the construction of the Keystone pipeline move forward. Not only will this vitally importance project reduce our dependence on oil from overseas, according to a State Department report it would also create more than 42,000 jobs. That same report also found that there was little evidence that the pipeline would contribute to climate change.
Understanding the problem is the easy part, but solutions will not come quickly. Now is the time to lay a foundation for energy independence. There are steps we can take as a nation to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, find cleaner energy sources, and increase production from renewable sources.
Since coming to Congress, I have supported:
Substantially improving car mileage (CAFE) standards without making vehicles unaffordable to average consumers; (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/cafe/overview.htm)
Working to cut home and business energy usage and create incentives to conserve;
Greater investments in solar, wind power, and other renewable energy sources;
Making the production of biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline, but end the costly ethanol mandate;
Building more nuclear power plants and small modular reactors to produce usable electricity (New Jersey gets 52 percent of its power supply from nuclear);
Constructing more oil refineries. Consider using closed military bases for this purpose;
Ensuring that speculation in commodity markets is not artificially driving up the price of energy;
Encouraging innovation at the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy, as well as in the private sector, to help lead the way on comprehensive, clean, and renewable energy.
Over the years, I have been the champion of fusion energy research, much of which is conducted in New Jersey at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. (http://www.pppl.gov/) Fusion energy has the potential to become an unlimited, safe, environmentally friendly and affordable energy source.
Producing alternative energy is decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels, and the U.S. must get started immediately.
Energy and Water Development
I have the honor of serving on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. This subcommittee funds the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
The subcommittee allocates federal money for DOE operations, including scientific research at the 16 national laboratories, including Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. These laboratories house 30,000 scientists and conduct cutting edge research.
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the construction and maintenance operations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for navigation, flood control, environmental protection and disaster response throughout our nation.
New Jersey's Energy Profile
New Jersey receives 52 percent of its energy from nuclear power.
The New York Harbor area between New York and New Jersey has over 40 million barrels of refined product storage capacity (much of which is in New Jersey), making it the largest petroleum product hub in the United States.
The largest of the four U.S. Northeast Heating Oil Reserve sites is located in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
The Salem nuclear power plant is one of the highest-capacity nuclear power plants in the nation.
New Jersey's Oyster Creek nuclear reactor, which first came online in 1969, is the oldest operating nuclear plant in United States.
Transportation sector dominates energy consumption in New Jersey, where the average commute time is among the longest in the nation.
How Can You Save Money on Gas?
Slow down! Each 5 miles per hour you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.15 per gallon for gas. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas.
Keep your car maintained and running smoothly! Schedule tune ups, clean air filters, make sure tires are properly inflated, and ensure you are using the proper grade of motor oil.
Use your engine wisely! Avoid excessive idling and use cruise control and overdrive gears.
Be smart about driving! Plan errands to do them together, rather than in separate trips. Carpool or use mass transit when possible. Keep your car light -- don't store unnecessary items in your car.
For tips on saving gasoline, visit:
To compare gas prices in your area, visit: www.fueleconomy.gov, a website maintained by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
For additional information about the trends and conditions that drive gasoline prices, the Energy Information Administration publishes "A Primer on Gasoline Prices," available at the following web address: http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/gasolinepricesprimer/eia1_2005primerM.html.
How You Can Keep Your Energy Bills Lower: Conservation and Efficiency
There are numerous ways to reduce your energy costs by conserving energy in your home or apartment and by making minor adjustments in your energy use routines that can result in more efficient use of energy. For a comprehensive list of tips, please visit the Department of Energy's website at www.doe.gov/yourhome.htm. Additional information is available at the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website, located at www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/.
How You Can Secure Assistance with Heating Costs
LIHEAP. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally-funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. LIHEAP operates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and the U.S. territories. The local LIHEAP program determines is households qualify for the program and can provide bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, or weatherization and energy-related home repairs.
For more information, visit the New Jersey LIHEAP website or call (800) 510-3102. The application for Home Energy Assistance can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/forms/docs/heaappl.pdf.
Weatherization Assistance Program. The federal Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Weatherization can reduce energy bills by hundreds of dollars a year.
The Weatherization Assistance Program is federally-funded and operated by individual states. For information about weatherization assistance, please visit http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/offices/wap.html or call (609) 984-1947. The application for assistance can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/forms/docs/heaappl.pdf.
NATIONAL ENERGY FACTS
Of the 7.7 million households in the United States that use heating oil to heat their homes, roughly 80 percent are in the Northeast region of our country.
New Jersey is the third largest generator of solar energy in the country. Only California and Arizona produce more electricity from solar.
Renewable energy sources--water (hydroelectric), geothermal, wind, sun (solar), and biomass-- met about 13 % of the nation's electricity needs and about 10% of America's total energy needs in 2013.
The majority of new power plants in the years ahead will be powered by natural gas. By 2035, natural gas-fired power plants will be the single largest source of electricity in the United States.
The 100 U.S. nuclear power plants supply about 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States.
U.S. wind energy installations produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of more than 15.5 million homes.
Coal is America's largest domestic energy resource -- enough to last about 222 years at current rates of use. 25% of the world's coal is in the United States.