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Words from Washington

Prices at the pump

Just as our economy is starting to get back on track, rising gasoline prices are placing additional strain on families and job-creating businesses. A recent poll found that 70 percent of Americans say high gas prices are causing financial hardship - and rural communities like ours are hit especially hard.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with several members of Central Washington's agricultural community and listen to their concerns about the impacts of rising fuel prices as they prepare for a record 2011 harvest. The burden of rising fuel prices is making it difficult for our farmers and growers to compete and profit in the market.

The Obama Administration has actively blocked access to many American energy sources for the past two years and the impacts can be felt when we go to fill up at the pump or feel reluctant to take a vacation because of high fuel costs. Unfortunately, the Administration's backward energy policies eliminate American jobs, do nothing to bring down gasoline prices, and are actually reducing domestic energy production - even as gasoline prices near $5 per gallon in some areas.

The U.S. can help insulate ourselves from these energy spikes and help our economy by actively producing our own American energy resources. This includes more American produced oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, along with alternative sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. Producing more American energy will lower prices, create new American jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen our national security and raise revenue to help tackle the $14 trillion national debt.

As Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, with jurisdiction over energy resources on our nation's federal lands and waters, I am pursuing many avenues to increase domestic energy production to lower gasoline prices and create more American jobs.

In the weeks ahead, the House will consider three pieces of legislation that have been approved by the Natural Resources Committee that will unlock our nation's resources, expand American energy production, create jobs and lower gasoline prices by reversing Obama Administration policies that have placed our American energy resources off-limits.

We need to ensure that responsible development of our natural resources remains a national priority. This is the message I carry as Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and I plan to work with my colleagues in Congress to help create new jobs, increase domestic energy, address rising fuel costs and strengthen the economy.

To learn about the American Energy Initiative and our legislation, please read more at the Committee's website (http://naturalresources.house.gov/americanenergy).

- U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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