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SPOTLIGHT
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Protecting our independence

Published on -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

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As we approach the summer months, July is a special month for many Americans. Most of us eagerly will take a break from our busy summer schedules to once again celebrate Independence Day. There will be much fanfare with fireworks, parades, picnics and other patriotic events celebrating our country's independence from Great Britain in 1776. But when the festivities have ended, only a few will have reflected upon the true meaning of independence and the role it has played in shaping our nation's character.

Our founding fathers made it clear in the Declaration of Independence that all men were entitled to certain unalienable rights. Among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is easy to take for granted those rights and freedoms we share as Americans. However, it is important we understand and appreciate the hard work and sacrifice our forefathers made in order for us to enjoy the luxury of freedom. Freedom and independence are cornerstones in the foundation of our country's heritage. The independent ideology of the American people is a fundamental element of our society and a key to our nation's prosperity. We must protect that independence at all cost.

One important freedom we must protect is our free-enterprise system. American business, and certainly the oil and gas industry, was founded upon the ideology of independence and free-market principles. Those principles allow business to be governed by the laws of supply and demand without government interference and excessive regulation. The dynamic free market has led to innovation and wealth creation, and has established an economic environment where hard work is rewarded.

But now, it seems free-market capitalism and independence are under attack. Government's heavy-handed intervention into businesses and industries is unprecedented. It is alarmingly obvious the increased governmental control is dragging on the economy. Where will it stop?

The oil and gas industry always is in the crosshairs of federal government. Unable to get environmental and regulatory initiatives passed through Congress, the Obama administration has pressed ahead unilaterally on several fronts. The oil and gas industry constantly is battling excessive environmental regulation and drilling restrictions. In addition, the administration's proposal to repeal our most critical and long-standing tax provisions would have a devastating efect on small independent oil and gas producers. Furthermore, excessive regulation and misguided tax proposals don't come close to generating the revenue to satisfy the Obama administration's appetite for bigger government.

America can continue to march toward global energy leadership or remain content to play a supporting role in the global energy market. We can erase what for decades has been America's greatest economic vulnerability -- our dependence on energy sources from other continents, particularly from less stable and friendly nations -- and fundamentally alter the geopolitical landscape for decades to come, all while providing a much needed boost to our economy. What we want, and what the American people deserve, is energy policy that continues the trend of our nation becoming energy self-sufficient and a global energy leader. We need to send a message to lawmakers at all levels of government that the time to end the intrusion of extreme political ideology or personal agendas in the energy policy debate is now, and the only limits on our nation's energy potential will be self-imposed by short-sighted, politically motivated energy policy decisions.

In his 1946 Independence Day speech, John F. Kennedy said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Those words never were so true. Being mindful of the erosion of our independence and free-market system through excessive regulation and government interference cannot be over-emphasized.

We must, now more than ever, remain steadfast in our resolve to protect and preserve the precious independence that has molded our nation's character.

Edward Cross is president of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association.

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