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Viewpoint: The recipe for $2 a gallon gasoline

Congress' job is to look out for you, the American people. But as these out-of-control gas prices prove, Congress is letting you down. Each day brings another ulcer-inducing, record-smashing high -- and these dizzying costs are hurting families across the country.

Gas has surpassed the grim milestone of $4 a gallon. Everyone is taking a hit -- and the poor and middle class are hit hardest. It has to stop. The punishment at the pump needs to end. Congress must act.

Several of my colleagues and I have been fighting for a plan to get gas prices down to $2 a gallon -- and create millions of jobs in the process.

It's a plan that has the broad support of the American people. Only the out-of-touch Congressional leadership stands in the way.

Here's the crux of the problem: global demand for energy has soared to record heights, but Congress has done nothing to increase our energy supply.

In fact, the new Democrats in charge support a virtual ban on domestic energy exploration.

So prices have soared as well -- more during the last 17 months than in well over a decade.

Consider these startling truths: we are the only industrialized nation on the planet that bans 85 percent of our deep sea energy reserves from being explored.

We sit on massive energy resources from Florida to the Rockies to Alaska that Congress won't let us touch. China is exploring off the Cuban coast and Americans just watch from the Florida shores.

There's enough energy locked away in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to offset all our imports from Saudi Arabia. In fact, our nation sits on two trillion barrels of shale oil -- four-fifths of it on government-owned land. But it remains off-limits.

France gets 80 percent of its energy from clean nuclear power while the U.S. hasn't built a new plant since the 1970s. We haven't built new refineries either. We had 321 oil refineries in 1981. Now we have only 149.

Yet in that same time period, demand has doubled. We've even suppressed clean coal production in the United States -- despite 25 percent of the world's entire coal reserves resting inside our borders.

Americans are starving for relief and Congress holds the key to the pantry door. All they have to do is unlock it and prices will fall back to $2 a gallon.

But like a broken record, Congress is stuck in the repeating loop of business as usual. So they keep repeating their no-new-energy mantra.

Our country is blessed with amazing resources and unlimited creativity. New technology allows us to explore without any harm to the environment. America should be leading the world in access to affordable energy.

We should be nearing a future where energy is better, easier, cheaper, cleaner and safer than anyone had ever imagined.

But if we want to head down this road -- and provide Americans with immediate relief -- Congress has to remove the handcuffs on innovative exploration and technology.

Congress has to stop looking backward and start looking forward. Congress has to let go of the do-nothing, partisan-bickering, business-as-usual mentality and deliver real change to the American people.

The time is long overdue.

U.S. Rep. Bachmann (R-Stillwater) represents Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. She can be reached at (202) 225-2331 or (651) 731-5400.