12/07/2012 08:46 am ET Updated Feb 06, 2013

Winning the Energy Lottery

Everybody needs some power I'm told, to take us from the darkness and the cold.

Former Rep. John Hall, theme song for the 1980 No Nukes concert.

"Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry."

-Don McLean

I was big into the "No Nukes" movement of the 1980s. The image of Three Mile Island was seared into my memory.

I grew up in an era when the world first learned about the power of OPEC. I remember gasoline shortages, long lines at gas pumps, prices all over the map and people in a state of panic. We had double digit inflation, the economy tanked and I traded my Chevy Impala in on a Ford Maverick.

The Maverick had good gas mileage but nearly flipped in every snowstorm and was a miserable ride for my six foot, 200-pound body. No parent ever feared when I took their daughter to the drive in. They knew I could never reach my date on the other side of the car.

As soon as I could, I bought a larger car. I'm married and fifty-three but still, the idea of getting me to cram a twenty-first century version of the Maverick is going to be a tough sell.

As a veteran of hours in gas lines, I don't want to go back to that era either.

Like everyone, I would like gasoline prices to be lower but one of my primary concerns is making sure that energy is available.

I grew up in an era of unrest in the Middle East I've lived most of my life with unrest in the Middle East. There is plenty of unrest in the Middle East now.

I'd like to make sure that the United States has supplies of energy that actually come from the United States.

My new book, Life Lessons from the Lottery, talks about what we can learn from watching lottery winners run through their money.

One is that when someone doesn't have to take a risk, they should not. If you win $100 million in the Powerball, you don't need to put in something risky.

Using the same analogy, it would make sense that we tap every resource in the United States before we put ourselves at the mercy of other countries.

The United States has made progress in developing its own resources; in 2008, we imported 56 percent of the oil we use; now it is down to 46 percent.

But it means that roughly half of my gasoline still comes from somewhere else.

I'm not one to promote large companies. As Wilt Chamberlain said, "No one ever rooted for Goliath," and underdogs, have always been my heroes.

On the other hand, energy has not been a mom and pop operation for over one hundred years. To get to the goal of not being dependant on the good nature of OPEC, we have to count on the big players to make it happen.

It doesn't mean drilling with no environmental oversight. We as a nation have concluded that we want all companies to take care in dealing with the environment.

We also have made it clear we want don't want our access to energy to be cut off.

Under President Clinton, the Shell corporation got the green light to to prepare to explore and extract oil in the northern regions of Alaska.

As Shell succeeds, it can make a huge difference for every American. It could drop imports by as much as nine percent. Nine percent doesn't sound like much that is what we currently buy from Iraq and Kuwait.

A study by Northern Economics shows that Shell's efforts in Alaska yield nearly 55,000
new jobs nationwide. Most state governors rejoice in announcing 55 new jobs, let alone 55,000.

Access to gasoline and energy impact food, transportation and everything on Main Street. I would rather support that cause than something like the Wall Street bailouts.

There's a world of room for conservation, greater energy efficiency, smarter
systems for buildings and homes, and continued development of alternative forms of energy. But we need to tap the energy we have underneath our American surface as well.

I was on a radio show in Philadelphia this week talking about lottery winners. A behavioral economics professor on the same program said that many people run through their money because they don't have a vision.

I have a simple vision, I want my car to always have access to a tank of gasoline.

Developing every energy source we can, right here in the United States, is the way to do make that vision happen.