Drill now solution to soaring gas prices- Westmoreland

By W. WINSTON SKINNER winston@newnan.com Drill now. That was the simple solution U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland offered for high gasoline prices on Thursday morning. Westmoreland, a Republican who lives near Grantville, told members of White Oak Golden K that America has sufficient oil and shale resources but must exert the political will to use them.
"We are going to have to step up to the plate and make some hard political decisions," Westmoreland said. "It's not that hard. You just have to have the political will to do it," he stated. "The only way we're going to help is to help ourselves." Much of Westmoreland's talk at the civic club meeting at the Special Events Center concerned gasoline prices and energy issues. The congressman also presented letters of appreciation to club members who took part in a recent highway cleanup project. "I don't know how many of you have noticed, but gas prices are a little high right now," Westmoreland joked as he began his talk. Westmoreland gave the example of Norway -- a nation that relies on its natural environment for many of its major industries, including fishing and tourism. Twenty years ago, Norway was completely dependent upon foreign oil. Today, Norway produces its own oil and exports more oil than any other nation, except Saudi Arabia. "They made a decision that they were not going to be dependent on" other countries for their petroleum needs, he said. "We are sitting on -- in this country -- the largest reserve of shale oil," Westmoreland said. Shale was used to produce oil years ago, but legal restrictions largely prevent that process being used today. "We refuse to do it. The reason we refuse to do it, it is not a popular political thing," he stated. "We need to be drilling. We need to be drilling today," Westmoreland said. He said the process to turn coal into oil has been around for years -- having been used by Adolf Hitler in 1937 to supply Germany's war machinery. He suggested America may need to adjust some policies, such as those which make it cheaper to drill for oil offshore than on land -- and to move toward more production of electricity by nuclear plants. "We can't continue to produce electricity with coal and natural gas," Westmoreland said. "Green is a very popular word," the congressman noted. He said that while visiting a company in LaGrange that makes oil filters on Wednesday, he was told about a "green" oil filter that is now being produced. "All of that sounds good, but we cannot conserve our way out of the energy crisis we're in," Westmoreland said. In 2006, Nancy Pelosi, who has since become U.S. Speaker of the House, announced the Democrats had "a common sense plan to bring down the skyrocketing price of gas," Westmoreland said. He noted gas cost $2.06 per gallon at the time. "They unveiled that plan in January of 2007," Westmoreland said. Pres. George W. Bush signed the bill into law late last year, but Westmoreland voted against it -- calling it "a non-energy plan." He said the 316-page law mentions gasoline 12 times and crude oil six times. "The word lamp or lightbulb is mentioned 350 times," he said, while swimming pools are mentioned 47 times. Westmoreland said he went to Home Depot and bought energy-saver bulbs to install in all the light sockets in his home. "I went to the pump the next day and gas had gone up," he said, an ironic tone in his voice. He said there has been lots of discussion about windmills and solar panels, but he said using both -- under optimum conditions -- would produce only about 3 percent of the energy the nation needs. To put lots of emphasis on such programs is "just crazy," he said. He also was critical of suggestions to not put oil into the nation's oil reserves this year. He said the reserve supply is what keeps America from being at the mercy of OPEC oil producers. "They know we'll use that oil (in the strategic oil reserve) to go over there and kick their tails," Westmoreland said. Keeping this year's allocation out of the reserve is being proposed by some politicians "for political expediency to satisfy their base," he said.


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