America must face its energy challenges now and to do so, we must fully understand why energy prices are so volatile.
- In 1974- our last “oil shock”- the United States imported less than 25 percent of its oil. Today, we import over 42 percent.
- The majority of our foreign oil comes from unfriendly or unstable nations, nearly 70 percent.
- The United States consumes almost one-quarter of the world’s 85 million barrels of oil per day.
- Growing economies in China and India are using more energy.
America is simply too dependent on oil, particularly foreign oil. This dependence is not only an economic or environmental issue, it is a national security risk. And, diversity of supplies is key.
No source of energy, not oil, coal, or electric, 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.
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 make more sources renewable.
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 to produce usable electricity (New Jersey gets 55 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.
- Using innovation at the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy 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
In the 113th Congress, 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 and 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
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides energy profiles of all fifty states. Below are some quick facts from New Jersey's profile. For additional information, please visit the EIA's website at http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=NJ#map.
- 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.
- The transportation sector dominates energy consumption in New Jersey, where the average commute time is among the longest in the nation.
- New Jerseyhas 3 pending wind applications for site off our coast.
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 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.
How You Can Keep Your Energy Bills Lower
There are numerous ways to reduce your energy costs by being energy-conscious in your home or apartment. 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.
Contact information for New Jersey’s LIHEAP program is below:
Office of Low-Income Energy Conservation
Division of Community Resources, Department of Community Affairs
P.O. Box 811
Trenton, New Jersey 08625
Telephone: (609) 984-3301
Fax: (609) 292-9798
Public Inquiries: (800) 510-3102
First Call for Help: 1-800-435-7555
NJ Lifeline: 1-800-792-9745
NJ SHARES: 1-866-NJSHARES (657-4273)
New Jersey Comfort Partners: 1-888-773-8326
Passaic and Sussex Counties:
NORWESCAP, Northwest New Jersey Community Action Program, Inc.: 1-888-454-4778
All four counties can contact the NORWESCAP number as it is one of the only 1-800 number in the state for the LIHEAP program. They can direct your call accordingly.
Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs, Inc. Rosa Soto (973) 366-1131
La Casa De Don Pedro: Cecelia Aiken (973) 485-0795 & 0796
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. On average, weatherization reduces heating bills by 31% and overall energy bills by $358 per year at current prices.
The Weatherization Assistance Program is federally-funded and operated by individual states. For information about weatherization assistance, please contact New Jersey’s office of Low-Income Energy Conservation (contact information above).
NATIONAL ENERGY FACTS
- Of the 7.7 million households in the United States that use heating oil to heat their homes, 5.3 million households – or roughly 69 percent – reside in the Northeast region of our country.
- More than 90 percent of the power plants to be built in the next 20 years will likely be fueled by natural gas.
- In 2005, nearly 52 percent of all households (residential sector) used natural gas as their primary heating fuel, accounting for about 22 percent of total natural gas consumed in the United States.
- The 103 U.S. nuclear units supply about 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States – second only to coal as a fuel source.
- U.S. wind energy installations produce enough electricity on a typical day to power the equivalent of more than 2.5 million homes.
- Coal is America’s largest domestic energy resource — enough to last 250 years at current rates of use.
- The "US Geological Survey estimates the total identified coal resources in the United States as being 1,600 billion tons. Another 1,600 billion tons of unidentified resources are postulated." Currently the US produces approximately 1.06 billion tons of coal annually.
- Wind-generated electricity increased by 45% between 2005 and 2006 and by 21% between 2006 and 2007, more than any other renewable source of generation in both years.
- Renewable energy sources—water (hydroelectric), geothermal, wind, sun (solar), and biomass— only met about 7% of America’s total energy needs in 2006.