Oil: What a Difference a Year Makes
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) filed this guest blog post:
Last year, as gas prices eclipsed four dollars a gallon, you couldn’t walk the halls of Congress without hearing lawmakers crying out for a new energy policy that would reduce our demand for oil. What a difference a year makes. Congress’s focus on climate change legislation is long overdue, but we can’t lose sight of oil prices creeping up as the economy recovers and demand increases.
Last week, the Joint Economic Committee, of which I am chair, held a hearing to examine the crushing economic impact last year’s oil prices had on the current recession. We saw the devastating impact that a rapid increase in the price of oil and gasoline can have on consumers, businesses and the economy at large. The sky-high prices we all paid at the pump last year didn’t just change our driving habits; they had profound impacts on employment and consumers’ confidence and willingness to purchase new goods and services.
Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates made a compelling argument that in the long run, our energy security depends on encouraging investments across the broad energy spectrum, while factoring in environmental and climate change considerations. In his testimony, he said:
“Major initiatives in research and development, innovation, and the “green stimulus” can have significant long-range impact. Moreover, the new recognition of the potential for energy efficiency is wholly welcome. Indeed, we have never seen anything like the embrace of energy efficiency that is taking place today all across the spectrum. But there is no single answer to the energy needs of our $14 trillion economy.”
Last year’s high oil prices and the painful shock they gave to our pocketbooks were not an anomaly. The relatively low pump prices that consumers are facing now give Congress some breathing room, but we must implement long term changes in energy policy now to move America beyond oil and into a vibrant and diverse 21st century energy economy. If we don’t, then the pains of last summer are an all too likely future.
--Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), is chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
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