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Emerson Report 3.29.2012

Americans feel the absence of a national energy policy right in our pocketbooks.  High and climbing prices for gas affect families every day.  Not only do energy costs force us to make tough budget choices in the present, they also dampen our hope for the future.

And as I have often pointed out in the past, high gas prices are especially harmful in rural areas of the country like Southern Missouri.  We drive longer distances to town, to work and to school.  Our economy runs on gas – manufacturing, transportation and agriculture.  The goods on our store shelves travel many miles to reach us.

So here are some little-known facts about American energy I picked up from the Energy Information Administration, the federal storehouse of data about everything related to this important topic:

Crude oil production peaked in the U.S. between 1966 and 1987, when we produced more than three trillion barrels of domestic crude oil every year but one.  In the last eight years, production has exceeded two trillion barrels only once.

More than 80 percent of U.S. oil and energy production from federal lands comes from offshore leases.

Our oil imports, on the other hand, peaked in August of 2006.  Roughly one third of the oil we import today comes from OPEC, and we import as much fuel from Canada and Mexico combined as we do from the Middle East.

In the Midwest U.S., the average retail price of gas went from $3.40 per gallon on February 13 to $3.84 on March 19.  In the last 20 years, prices have climbed so high only twice before, during the summer of 2008 and the summer of 2011.

U.S. demand for gasoline has also declined, reaching a level (8,000 barrels per day) not seen since 2001, after peaking at over 9,500 barrels per day in 2007.

Taken together, all of these facts help give us a better idea of where we are today on American energy, as well as where we can go from here.

We must reduce barriers to recovering American energy supplies in order to stimulate domestic production.  We can recover more energy from federal lands, and we can ease restrictions that prohibit private exploration by American companies on our own soil.  We can be less reliant on hostile regimes around the world if we do.

The result in our country, and in the Midwest, would be lower and more stable gas prices.  As a country, we are already transitioning to alternative, non-oil energy resources.  With the reliable production of American resources to support that transition, we really can lead the energy future.

Energy independence also means economic security, national security, and security for our American families who watch every penny at the pump.  One more boon?  Jobs.