BEACH PROTECTION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 10, 2008)
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Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Chairman, while we debate a bill about beaches today, I am again appalled that the majority has once again missed an opportunity to address one of the biggest problems confronting our constituents, rising energy costs. It is reported today that gasoline prices reached a new all time high of $112 a barrel. Yet, we have let another week here pass without doing anything to confront this challenge.
Not a week goes by when I am not asked about rising energy prices. These increased costs affect everyone in our society. But none are more affected by these increased costs than some of our nation's most poor. On average, the nation's working poor spends approximately 13 to 30 percent of their yearly income on energy costs, and as prices rise so will the amount of their income spent on energy.
A large number of factors combine to put pressure on energy and gasoline prices, including peaked U.S. oil production, increased world demand for crude oil, and U.S. refinery capacity that is inadequate to supply gasoline to a recovering national economy. These are serious problems that will not go away with time, and they require real solutions that will restore American energy independence and help ease the pain of record price fill-ups. However, the majority in Congress has failed to do anything that would address any of these factors contributing to high prices.
When many are citing U.S. production numbers and refinery capacity as a reason for increased gas prices, the Majority has proposed additional taxes on these domestic energy suppliers. We have voted on several bills that would impose up to $15 billion in tax increases on domestic energy suppliers. These taxes will impede domestic oil and gas production, discourage investment in refinery capacity, and make it more expensive for domestic energy companies to operate in America than their foreign competitors, actually increasing America's dependence on foreign oil.
Let's make no mistake, an increased tax doesn't just hurt energy companies, it hurts every American--individual, farm, or company--that consumes energy. Increased taxes on energy companies are passed on to consumers. Every American will see these increased costs on their energy bill. This body shouldn't pass legislation that further raises energy prices for consumers. I have voted against these attempts to raise taxes, and luckily none of these bills have become law.
Unfortunately, too often in the 110th Congress, the majority's solution has been to place restrictions on the marketplace. Policies that increase supply, not those that place restrictions on the marketplace, are the solutions to today's energy concerns. For example the dramatic expansion of the Renewable Fuels Standard to require 36 billion is an artificially created government mandate. While I am supportive of renewable energy, we should develop a policy that is technology neutral and allows the market to develop new sources of renewable energy. The RFS provisions create an unrealistic mandate for advanced biofuels technology that doesn't yet exist and creates hurdles for the development of second generation biofuels. These restrictions will undoubtedly lead to a consumer tax to help bridge the gap in production.
However, there are many things we could actually do here in Congress that would help ease the prices at the pump. Many Americans don't know that the U.S. is the world's largest energy producer. Over the past 25 years we have pumped 67 billion barrels of oil, and strong reserves remain. The fact is the energy sources are there--in Alaska, the Rockies, and offshore--but political roadblocks keep it in the ground instead of in use in the economy.
We should also be focusing on the development of clean Coal-to-Liquid technologies. This is one of the most promising advancements in coal research and produces liquid transportation fuels synthesized from coal. Even using conservative estimates, our country has enough coal to last over 200 years. Coal is one of our nation's most abundant resources, yet the development of Coal-to-Liquid technologies has been completely ignored by this Congress. Producing liquid transportation fuels from coal will be a major catalyst in helping our country become energy independent.
Energy costs are affecting the daily life of all of our constituents. We must change the direction this Congress has been headed in addressing this issue. We must reject the politics that put restrictions on the marketplace and keep energy in the ground instead of in our gas tanks. Instead, we must develop a long-term strategy that allows us to access our traditional energy sources, while developing alternative and renewable energy sources that seek to increase energy supplies and encourage cleaner, more efficient energy use.
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