By Senator John ThuneWith the holiday season in full swing, many of us will be traveling to celebrate the season with family and friends. In South Dakota, this often means many miles in the car to be with family and loved ones. While the recent drop in energy prices is welcome news for all of us, especially after this summer's record prices at the pump, it is important that we not become complacent about addressing our nation's energy challenges.
When energy prices were on the rise and the election was looming there was an increased appetite in Congress to finally address a problem that has been ignored for far too long. Many members were quick to make promises in regards to their support for additional domestic drilling and incentives for clean energy alternatives. Now that the election is over and prices are falling, the appetite for addressing this problem seems to be subsiding and could give way to other agenda items. We've certainly seen what happens when energy policy is ignored - just look at what happened to our nation's dependence on imported oil over the past 25 years. Continuing to pursue the same policies will only come back to haunt consumers and jeopardize our nation's energy security in the future.
As we all witnessed with record oil prices this year, energy costs impact school districts, and local, state, and federal government budgets, as well as the wallets of individuals, families, and businesses. This is the biggest reason why I have continued to support and champion increased alternative energy production in South Dakota and across the country. South Dakota has tremendous resources that can contribute to our nation's energy needs - everything from a strong ethanol industry, to growing wind energy development efforts, and significant potential to produce next generation biofuels from prairie grasses, wood chips and waste materials from our forests. Also, there are significant domestic oil and gas reserves across the country that are no longer off limits which with responsible exploration and production can assist in lessening our nation's seventy percent dependence on foreign oil imports.
It will be important that as we embark on a new session of Congress that we continue to keep energy at the forefront of the domestic priority list and that elected officials not lose sight of this critical issue. Addressing our country's energy needs is just one way we can positively impact our economy and improve our nation's energy security - which will pay dividends for years to come. I look forward to being a part of coming up with those solutions.