To the editor:

Last year, amid crippling gas prices, Illinoisans elected candidates advocating responsible exploration of domestic sources of energy such as oil and natural gas. President-Elect Obama expressed his support for a "well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage."

We need to hold these officials to their pledges and transform years of inaction into a coherent, long term energy policy making use of every domestic asset, including offshore drilling, in the national energy portfolio.

In October of 2008, Congress allowed the expiration of a 30-year moratorium on drilling in the outer continental shelf off the U.S. coast, however the government continues to delay new exploration and the eastern Gulf of Mexico remains off limits. These previously inaccessible lands contain an estimated 18 billion barrels of oil and 76.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Illinois residents benefit from this exploration as four-fifths of households rely on natural gas as the primary fuel for home heating. Furthermore, Illinois leads the Midwest in crude oil refining capacity.

Current Department of Energy statistics indicate that oil supplies 96 percent of our transportation needs. Even with the growing use of biofuels, the Department of Energy estimates that the U.S. will still require over 80 percent petroleum to fuel our vehicles for years to come. Use of domestic sources of oil can continue to meet the demand as we development new, alternative energy technologies.

It is my hope that President Obama and the Illinois Congressional delegation change years of inaction and unnecessary regulation on domestic energy exploration.

Finally, by encouraging more domestic oil and gas production, many additional Americans will be gainfully employed and bring a true stimulation to our stagnant economy.

Adrian Spronk, Ph.D.
Lake Villa, Ill.

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