Last month, the Department of Energy announced its plans to build a gasoline storage reserve in the Northeast. Widespread shortages caused by massive super storm Sandy sparked plans to mitigate future risks in affected Northeastern states.

The gasoline reserve will hold nearly one million gallons of gasoline, providing power to first responders and generators. The $200 million dollar project is set to be finished at the end of this summer, before the 2014 hurricane season begins.

The reserve, however, may be needed sooner considering the continued conflict in Iraq.

The chaos in Iraq has driven crude oil prices to their highest levels in nine months; amid fears that Iraqi oil output could suffer as Sunni militants continue their advance on Baghdad.

U.S. oil production, which reached its highest levels since 1986 last month at nearly 8.5 million barrels a day, has helped create a modest cushion for the country.

The spike in oil prices as a result of the conflict in Iraq is only a glimpse into the future of the crude oil market if America continues to depend upon unstable governments for energy supplies. To protect American citizens, U.S. leaders need to strive for energy independence.

Enacting policies to improve modes of transport for oil and gas, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, would place America on the road towards greater energy stability. Ensuring this autonomy will translate to more stable prices and availability of crude oil, regardless of international conflicts. Maintaining this independence can be readily achieved through increased shipment of crude oil from our ally Canada, which has been offered, though hardly accepted.

Building the Keystone XL pipeline would create a stable and constant stream of crude oil sent to production facilities in the US, encouraging job growth and lower gasoline prices, while developing independence from nations facing instability.

Later this week, a key Senate committee will vote on a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline and bypass the constant delays for the past five years set by the Obama administration. Passing this bill will not only ensure our energy independence, but also protect our citizens from the volatility of storms and wars alike.

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