As the nation continues to assist those impacted by Hurricane Katrina and begins to look at the long-term consequences of the devastating storm, the Agriculture Energy Alliance urges Congress to continue to implement policy changes needed to diversify both the types and geographic locations of the U.S. energy supplies.

The Agriculture Energy Alliance is a national coalition comprised of 72 farm groups and agribusinesses.

“The United States was operating on the edge with respect to the supply of oil and natural gas and is too dependent on energy infrastructure concentrated in a small geographic area. We also do not have the fuel diversity required to insure that industries have the energy needed to produce strategic products…” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “A single incident has led to major disruption of supply. As we assist displaced Americans and repair the Gulf Coast infrastructure, we need to understand the vulnerabilities that exist in our energy supply and make the necessary changes now to correct the situation.”

Natural gas is responsible for many very basic items including nitrogen fertilizer production.

The Alliance members are urging Congress to reform public policies that create demand for certain energy resources, like natural gas, while restricting access to supply sources. According to the Minerals Management Service, there is an estimated 406 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf. This potential supply is clearly needed, says Alliance members, yet it is off limits due to federal policies that leave 85 percent of all federally controlled offshore areas subject to federal moratoria on development. The moratoria were put into effect 24 years ago and the Alliance says they must be reexamined to reflect the new reality of short supply and greater demand. Advanced drilling technologies have proven that these energy resources can be produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The agricultural community believes that it is strategically critical for Congress to remove these production barriers now to provide new sources of natural gas and oil supplies. They say a high priority should be placed on opening up to exploration Lease Area 181 in the Gulf of Mexico which is known to have an abundant supply of energy resources with access to existing pipeline infrastructure. This action would facilitate speedy delivery of much-needed natural gas to the marketplace.

“Natural gas has been called the ‘forgotten fuel’ because so much attention is being placed on high gasoline prices,” said Jean-Mari Peltier, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “… This trend cannot continue. With Congressional leadership and action, this trend can be reversed.”

Source: The Fertilizer Institute

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