Roy Innis

America’s energy situation is becoming more untenable and intolerable by the day. The cost of keeping our jobs, heating and cooling our homes, driving our cars, and putting food on our tables and clothes on our backs is increasing daily. Small businesses, energy intensive industries like manufacturers and airlines, and poor, minority and fixed-income families are getting hammered.

The employment and fiscal security of our nation is at risk. We are sending more than a half-trillion dollars a year to unfriendly, often dictatorial regimes, to pay for the oil and gas we need to keep our economy running and maintain decent standards of living.

For minorities the situation goes beyond economics. Their civil rights are being trampled on, because access to abundant, reliable, affordable energy is the single most important determinant of whether they will ever achieve the constitutionally protected rights that they finally won, thanks to the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

But this unacceptable situation has nothing to do with running out of vital energy resources. The shortages and soaring prices have been created and imposed on us by government policies and edicts. They are artificial. They are due to unnecessary restrictions on developing the energy resources that we still have in abundance, right here in these United States.

Foremost among them are the estimated 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil (worth more than $15 trillion at today’s prices) that geologists conservatively estimate lie beneath our Outer Continental Shelf or OCS. That’s enough natural gas to heat every home that currently uses this fuel as its primary energy source for more than a century, and enough oil to substantially reduce our dependence and spending on foreign imports.

During that time, we will undoubtedly make a transition to alternative sources, including renewable energy. But that transition will take time, and there is no reason why we should make it more costly, painful, regressive and punitive than necessary – by continuing to impose shortsighted energy policies.

Roy Innis

Roy Innis is national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of America’s oldest and most respected civil rights groups, and a life-long advocate of economic development rights for poor families and communities around the world.