ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SECURITY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - December 06, 2007)
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Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, America must develop a 21st century energy security policy that will reduce energy costs, increase energy independence, encourage energy conservation, strengthen the economy and protect the environment, including steps to cut carbon emissions and address the impacts of climate change. I believe that policy must also include a commitment to invest in clean, renewable energy technology, the responsible exploration of domestic energy sources, an increase in fuel efficiency standards, and the research necessary to develop the fuels of the future.
Today the House considers a bill that is over 1,000 pages, with only 12 hours of notice and only 1 hour of debate. I found it interesting that while the bill was not introduced and made available to members until 8:30 last night, K Street lobbyists provided copies to congressional staff 3 hours earlier.
In the limited time we have had to read the bill, I have found some provisions that I could support. The bill has provisions to invest in research and development of a whole host of renewable resources, promote energy efficiency by the Federal Government, promote energy conservation programs and investment by the private sector in renewable energy generation. If we are ever to become energy independent, those are the kinds of investment we must make.
The bill also has provisions to establish grants to promote public transportation and expand use of alternative fuels, and extend tax credits for energy efficient projects in commercial buildings, production of renewable electricity and investments in solar energy and fuel cells. Earlier this year I voted for the Udall/Platts amendment to require electricity companies to ensure that 15 percent of their electricity is generated by renewable and alternative sources by the year 2020. Renewable energy development is vital to our national security, our economic prosperity and the health of our environment.
Another provision I support and have cosponsored separate legislation will increase automobile fuel economy standards, also called CAFE, Corporate Average Fuel Economy.
But with all these positive steps promoting energy investment, why add provisions that will penalize domestic oil and gas production? America is at the mercy of countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and even China whose governments control oil resources around the world. If we are ever to wean our Nation from foreign sources of energy, we must tap our own energy sources. Congress had an opportunity through this bill to find ways to partner with America's oil and gas producers to provide incentives to encourage alternative energy use and development and to stop the rising costs of gas and oil. Instead, the legislation adds billions in increased taxes which will hurt energy consumers and threaten U.S. jobs. I don't believe any fair-minded person would say that the way to lower prices at the pump is by raising taxes on the companies that find, refine and transport gasoline.
That is no way to promote energy independence. The tax provisions not only increase taxes for domestic drilling, but also include a massive tax increase on U.S. companies producing energy abroad. This will have the effect of placing U.S.-based companies at a disadvantage by reducing their ability to compete for investments in foreign energy projects. This is unacceptable when China, India and Russia are working night and day to corner the market on many of the world's energy resources. In fact, Cuba has sold leases for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to China, India, Canada and Spain.
Additionally, I was shocked to see that provisions to promote telework in the Federal Government were removed from the final bill. According to Environmental Defense, 6 billion gallons of oil can be saved if commuters telework just 1 day each week. Most importantly, these telework provisions did not cost a penny.
Just a few weeks ago the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University released its annual traffic congestion study which found that congestion creates a $78 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy due to 4.2 million lost hours of productivity and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted gas. That's not even considering the air pollutants caused by idling vehicles around the nation. Why did we not consider savings from the telecommuting provisions included in the energy bill passed earlier this year as an offset instead of new taxes on the backs of the American people?
I also have learned that this massive bill includes a $2 billion earmark for the City of New York. I am sure there are other special interest projects that have been creatively air dropped into the 1,061 pages of this bill. With so little time to cull through those pages, though, no one but the sponsors will know before we vote. No wonder the American people have such low regard for Congress.
To truly create an effective energy policy, we must have an open and transparent process for all members and in fact all Americans working together. We cannot achieve energy security by increasing taxes on oil and gas producers, which will cripple our economy and impact the pocketbook of every single American. We cannot create energy policy through wheeling and dealing or thousand page bills released just hours before a vote.
Finding bipartisan consensus in developing energy policy is critical for our Nation's future economy, prosperity and security. Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate must work together so that America can truly start on the path to energy independence that delivers energy security and lower costs for American consumers in a way that also promotes environmental stewardship.
We can do better. We must do better.
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