Energy is essential in every American’s life. We use energy to do just about everything; drive to work, heat our homes, cook meals, and power our cell phones. As diverse as the uses for energy are, so too are the sources of this energy: oil, gas, coal, nuclear, biofuels, wind, hydro, and solar to name a few.

It has long been the goal for the United States to become energy independent. By 2020, the United States is expected to export more energy than it imports for the first time since the 1950s. Modern technology and environmentally-responsible methods have given us the capability to diversify and develop domestic resources without jeopardizing the environment.

At this time when we should be focusing on how to make energy development more innovative and efficient, the House recently took votes which take us in the opposite direction. Politics has turned the debate on energy into something else entirely. We are now seeing proposals to reduce our ability to produce energy, which would force the United States to import the same energy from places where we have no control over environmental standards.

This week the House considered two bills: H.R. 1941, which would ban offshore drilling on both coasts of the United States, and H.R. 1146 which would ban energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I have always opposed arbitrarily closing energy development. These bills do not provide an alternative for the loss of revenue, jobs, and energy production. By simply shutting out these sources of energy with no realistic alternative, we would be creating countless new problems with no solution. Handicapping our nation’s energy industry only allows other countries to fill the gap we leave behind.

Instead of limiting our options, we should be looking for ways to expand our choices. In 2017, we saw more ethanol produced in the United States than ever before. As the second largest ethanol producer in the nation, Nebraska benefits greatly from ethanol sales. Increasing ethanol production is good for producers, consumers, and retailers.

The ethanol industry has seen record production and sales in the past couple years, but there is still progress to be made. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to issue of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) for large or unqualified refiners under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) program, greatly undermining the RFS. I have been vocal with the administration of my opposition and will continue to fight against these waivers. Giving Americans more choices for energy such as ethanol, should be our path forward. We must ensure ethanol producers have stability and a strong RFS. For my ongoing support of American ethanol, I was awarded the Fueling Growth Award this week.

Finding solutions to our country’s dependence on foreign energy must be a priority. Our country needs a balanced discussion about our energy policies. It is my hope we look for ways to provide more freedom and economic opportunity for more Americans, and I will continue to work toward this goal.

In other news

Like many Nebraskans, I’d like to see the United States and China make progress on an agreement to remove barriers to trade. It’s important for the negotiations to result in a fair deal that puts American farmers and manufacturers on a level playing field when doing business in China.

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