DALLAS, Tex. – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called on Congress to help ease our energy woes by allowing more drilling in the U.S., as President Bush released Wednesday a four-point plan to increase domestic fuel production.
"The problem is not the big oil companies, the problem is not the foreigners, the problem is not begging the Saudis," said Gingrich. "The problem is getting Congress to do its job."
Gingrich said that 73 percent of Americans support drilling in presently restricted areas of the U.S. if it is done in an environmentally friendly way.
A congressional moratorium first adopted in the early 1980s banned most offshore oil production and exploration in the U.S., with the exception of waters off Alaska and in the western and central Gulf of Mexico.
Just last week on Capitol Hill, a House subcommittee rejected a Republican-led effort to open more U.S. coastal waters to oil exploration.
Instead, House Democrats are putting pressure on oil companies to drill or develop the 68 million acres of federal land that the industry already holds leases for.
As efforts stall and gas prices hit record highs, many have called on the government to do more to ease the pain at the pump.
President Bush's plan calls for more offshore drilling, more oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and increased shale and refinery production.
Gingrich — who founded the bipartisan group called "American Solutions for Winning the Future" — has said people are ready for action. He has collected some 600,000 signatures of people who want to increase oil production in the U.S.
The U.S. consumes nearly 21 million barrels of oil each day, but produces only 8 million.
"You have to have enough energy in the U.S. to never again have to go to the Saudis and ask them to pump more. If we're going to pump more, let's pump it in the United States," said Gingrich.
But not everyone agrees that domestic drilling is the way to go.
Dallas resident Amy Ganci said: "I think we've got smart enough people in this country that they ought to be looking at alternative resources."
But with the price of oil doubling in the past year and no end in sight, some say it's time to better utilize our resources.
Mario Grabar, who said he spends over $1,200 a month filling up two family cars, said if the U.S. has the capability to drill, we should.
"If they did it right, they could probably do it, but everybody wants to take a short cut and you end up with oil spills, and nobody wants that," said Grabar.