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Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing.
I, like most Americans, am extremely concerned about the shocking rise in oil prices we have seen all over the country. In 2003, a barrel of oil cost $30. This spring, as we all know, it's topped $135. I hear from my constituents all of the time who are struggling to keep up with rising gas prices. A gallon of gas in my own home state of New Jersey averages $3.71 for regular. New Jersey's gas prices aren't even the highest as we find in other states, but it's still having a deleterious effect on my constituents.
And so, Mr. Chairman, we need to continue to work tirelessly to find solutions to this challenge, one that hits our people every day. I'm glad we're having this hearing that will examine another aspect of this issue, the national security implications of rising oil prices. These issues are often overlooked and are critical to consider when evaluating overall foreign policy.
Control of global oil resources, Mr. Chairman, is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer countries. Fourteen of the world's top 20 oil companies are state-owned. A recent report revealed that Western oil companies now control less than 10 percent of the world's oil and gas reserves. Many of the remaining oil reserves are, of course, concentrated in the Middle East, while Venezuela and Russia, the largest non-OPEC producers, also play important roles.
As more and more money flows -- American money -- to these countries, how will it affect the world's geopolitical balance? How will it affect the strategic interests of the United States? How will it affect our ability to stand with the oppressed in defense of human rights around the world? Rising oil prices have already strengthened our enemies overseas.
And I would ask unanimous consent that my full statement be made a part of the record.