URGING A ``NO'' VOTE ON GASOLINE FOR AMERICA'S SECURITY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - October 06, 2005)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Walden of Oregon). Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that one of the biggest concerns that we hear from our constituents is the unjustified increase in the price of fuels. Just in Ohio today, gasoline is over $3 a gallon. People cannot afford to take their families for weekend drives or vacations because the cost of gasoline prohibits it. Farmers and other small businessmen face higher fuel costs that are making it nearly impossible for them to make a profit. Individuals are concerned about the cost of home heating this year as heating oil and natural gas prices go up faster than windchill blowing across the Great Lakes, and programs like heating assistance for those that cannot afford to pay their bills, like senior citizens, are facing flatlining by the Republican majority in this House when it is eminently clear that the need will be greater this year than ever in the past. We always seem to be able to find money to send to other countries, but we cannot take care of the people right here at home. What a shame.
So what does this Congress do about all of this? Tomorrow we are supposed to be debating the Gasoline for America's Security Act of 2005, H.R. 2360. The wordsmiths have been busy little elves with this one because not only does it have the right words to make the public believe that this body is really doing something about the problem, but it really is not. They have tucked away goodies for their friends in the oil industry who thought that the energy bill that some people voted here a few weeks ago was not enough for them. In the words of former President Reagan, ``There they go again.''
They give new regulatory subsidies to the refining industry when those industries' profits are at breaking records. If we look, just in this past year of 2004, the five major U.S. oil companies, Exxon, British Petroleum, Shell, Chevron and Conoco, have almost tripled their profits, taking in more than $50 billion, $50 billion, more than they did just 2 years before. How much more do they want when so many in our society are living right at the edge?
In 2005, after months of suspected price gouging, these five major oil companies are on target to pocket over $100 billion more, nearly $40 billion more than Congress has appropriated so far to rebuild the entirety of our devastated gulf coast, think about that, which has taken generations to build. That is how much money just those companies are taking in.
The bill rolls back authority currently given to our Federal Trade Commission to deal with price gouging. It seems to target smaller retailers while limiting the areas that can be investigated for price gouging. According to a September 1 Wall Street Journal article, after Hurricane Katrina, unleaded gas prices surged 36 percent in just 3 days, pushing the wholesale price average up 132 percent above a year ago. And this massive increase occurred despite the fact that in the same 3-day period, the price of crude oil went up just 4.25 percent. Over the past year, crude oil prices have gone up 64 percent, so that means that the wholesale price of gasoline jumped nine times as fast as the price of crude in 3 days and is running more than double the increase of crude over the past year. And these companies are just swimming in the windfall benefits.
So instead of renewing our vows to imported oil, we need to be developing new renewable energy sources here at home: wind power, solar, biofuels, fuel cells, hydrogen, clean coal. We consume 25 percent of the world's oil production, spending tens of billions of dollars to import oil from some of the most unstable and undemocratic regions of the world. At the same time, we have only 3 percent of known reserves.
According to a study done for the National Resources Defense Council, if we were to follow an aggressive plan to develop cellulosic biofuels over the next 10 years, we could produce the equivalent of nearly 7.9 million barrels of oil per day. That is equal to more than 50 percent of our current oil use for transportation and more than three times what we import from the Persian Gulf alone. We have more than 5 million vehicles on the road right now that will run on 85 percent ethanol and a growing number that run on biodiesel blends of 5 percent or higher. The people who drive these cars in many cases do not even know it, and if they do, they cannot find the fuel in their home communities because we have not done enough to make these renewable and less costly fuels available to our own constituents. What a shame.
Some want us to keep drilling. They do not care where. It could be in a critical water area like the Great Lakes. Perish the thought.
In my view, we do not need to drill any more holes in our own heads. What we really need is an energy plan that develops self-sufficiency from renewable sources and a plan that not only calls for renewable fuel standards but provides support for the infrastructure and public education campaign to get there. A country that could land a man on the moon can do this as well. We need resolve right here in this Congress.
I urge this Congress to take a giant dose of Beano and cast a resounding ``no'' vote on the Gas Act of 2005 that will come up tomorrow. We can and surely must do better for our children.