Boustany espouses all-encompassing energy policy

David Ryan Palmer

Energy, U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany figures, is the big issue in Congress right now.

Boustany, along with State Rep. Mike Danahay, attended the weekly Sulphur Rotary Meeting on Wednesday afternoon. He spoke about his vision for oil and gas prices and the future of energy in America.

“When I got to Washington, I took a special interest in energy, because it’s a big part of our district and who we are,” Boustany said.

”I started to realize, after studying the issue in great depth, that the United States does not have a comprehensive energy policy, and it never has had a comprehensive energy policy.”

He cited China and India’s growing consumption of oil as one of the reasons that the supply side of the energy equation is becoming more and more stressed.

“We have 86 million barrels of oil produced globally, and we have 86 million barrels of oil consumed. So when a pipeline disruption happens in Nigeria, Venezuelan production drops because of politics and poor use of technology, as all that happens, it puts a stress on supply while demand continues to grow.”

Only with a “comprehensive energy policy” can Louisiana, along with the rest of America, meet the challenge put forth by current world events, he said.

Boustany indicated that he feels the President needs to lift the executive moratorium on domestic oil exploration, especially considering the amount of resources just off the southern coast of Louisiana.

“He can lift that today, and I’m going to send him a letter asking him to lift it; not just wait for Congress to act, but lift the executive part of that moratorium and challenge Congress to then pass legislation to pass law so that we can move forward.”

“There is a congressional responsibility and an executive branch responsibility, and both need to happen immediately,” he stressed.

Oil speculation has recently been in the news, and Boustany is a member of the Agricultural Committee that has oversight over potential abuses. That committee is looking into possible problems that might be contributing to inflated oil and gasoline prices.

”We’re going to vigorously pursue that,” he said.

The Congressman said that, long term, oil is not the only answer. The United States needs to start reasonable investments in alternative biofuels, which is an exciting possibility well beyond ethanol, he said.

”We all know what happened with ethanol, and how it caused commodities spikes. There are newer technologies out there that are available in the laboratory, and if we can bring them in an expanded way to bear, we can produce biodiesel, biojetful, biogasoline, that runs cleaner than our current fuels. It can be made from algae, from bagasse from sugarcane, wood-chips, switch grass, a whole host of sources,” Boustany said.

(Currently there is a plant being constructed in Jennings, La., which is to use cellulosic by-products like bagasse.)

”We also need to invest in nuclear power. France gets 80 percent of their energy from nuclear sources. China is building new nuclear facilities. The United States is the only country that is sitting around, twiddling its thumbs, saying ‘Oh God, prices are high, what are we going to do?’”

Energy policy not only has economic impact, Boustany said, but also is a “critical national security issue.”

”All you need to do is talk to some of our generals, particularly those serving in the Middle East, who will tell you of the national security vulnerabilities we have because of a lack of an energy policy.”

Boustany introduced a bill that would have the president elevate the secretary of energy to the National Security Council permanently, who would then form a group of assistant secretaries from across all agencies, from the CIA to the Department of Defense, to come up with an energy recommendation every four years, just like with defense.

As with most things, Boustany said, that there was no magic bullet for this problem.

”But again, we need comprehensive policy that will make a difference. Just announcing an energy policy, and the knowledge that Congress is taking steps, will have a calming effect on world markets,” he said.

”That’s the kind of approach we need on energy. We need a national effort. What Congress needs to do is not pick favorites from particular sectors, but we need a comprehensive policy that unleashes individual American genius.”

Southwest Daily News