NEW DIRECTION FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT -- (House of Representatives - August 04, 2007)
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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time on the minority side and yield myself such time as I may consume.
In recent years, it has become painfully clear that America is far too dependent on foreign oil. We import nearly two-thirds of the oil we consume. With gas prices in my district back in Cincinnati and throughout the country hovering around $3 a gallon, it is important for Congress to continue exploring ways that we can produce more energy domestically rather than relying on oil from the volatile Middle East or from Nigeria or Venezuela or other unstable areas in the world. In fact, according to the Government Accountability Office, Americans paid $38 billion more for gasoline in the first 6 months of last year than they paid during the first 6 months of the previous year. That is just unacceptable.
It is critical that we adopt a diversified and balanced energy strategy to become more self-sufficient. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, passed when the current minority was actually in the majority, took significant steps in that direction.
For example, we must increase our production of traditional fuel such as oil and natural gas, and strengthen conservation and efficiency efforts.
It is also important to provide incentives for the research and development of promising new technologies such as, for example, hydrogen fuel cells.
And, renewable energy, the vast majority of which is produced in our Nation's rural communities, is serving an important role in meeting America's energy needs. Biofuels have the potential to help wean Americans off foreign oil and to provide an economic boost for farmers and rural communities.
The potential should have fostered a serious and long overdue debate about reforming our Nation's agriculture policy which, in my view, with its subsidies and tariffs is in dire need of reform. Unfortunately, the farm bill that this new majority passed just this last week will cost $286 billion over the next 5 years, with billions in subsidies, price guarantees, and direct payments going to large agra businesses that already stand to benefit from increased market opportunities for renewable fuels.
This energy bill only exacerbates the problems which will be made worse by the farm bill that was passed last week. It authorizes the creation, for example, of government-backed venture capital firms to invest in renewable and biofuels enterprises under a new program at the SBA, the Small Business Administration. Nothing prohibits the existing small business investment companies, which are backed by the Federal Government's full faith and credit, from investing in companies that are involved in biofuels and renewable energy already.
To compound matters, this so-called energy bill before us today even authorizes the SBA to fund the development of business plans for these venture capital programs. There is nothing to demonstrate that a market failure exists in the development and construction of such facilities. As a result, I see no reason to provide further incentives through the creation of a totally new program at the Small Business Administration. We are just growing government. I would urge my colleagues to oppose this bill.
I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess).
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