ENERGY DEVELOPMENT -- (House of Representatives - June 11, 2008)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I appreciate the gentleman for hosting this special hour tonight and also very much importantly for all of your work all over the years on this very important issue.
And this issue really does strike at the heart of my constituents back in my great State of New Jersey whether it's from my home County of Sussex County, where over 60 percent of them have to commute out of the county every day by car, or Warren County or Bergen County where a host of so many commuters are being hard hit by this hard energy crisis that we're facing right now.
I join with my friend from Tennessee where--I don't come to the floor to blame anyone because the American public simply wants the Congress to come up with answers to the problems that we are all facing back in our district.
And I think really when you get right down to it, it's not that complicated in one sense to take a look at the various policies or ideas out there. It's easy, I think, one way to tell whether a good--whether a policy is a good energy policy or not. All you have to do is look at three things: supplies, cost, and security.
A good energy policy is a policy that will do what? It will give you more energy. More supply. A bad energy policy will give us less supply. A good energy policy is one that will lower costs for Americans. A bad energy policy is one that is going to continue to raise or escalate costs, meaning that American families are going to have to have less money for their food, housing, education, and so on. And thirdly and finally, a good energy policy is one that will make us a stronger, more secure America. A bad energy policy is going to be one that makes us less secure, less independent of foreign, unstable regimes like Venezuela and overseas and Saudi Arabia and places like Russia and the like.
So why don't we take a minute to see what has, quite honestly, the other side of the aisle proposed for us. I have in my hand right here, the Democrat plan to lower gas prices. You may recall that when Democrats were campaigning for the 110th Congress, they said that they had a commonsense solution to lower the price of gasoline and energy for the American public. And we are now 18 months, I think, into the 110th Congress. And, well, there is absolutely nothing in the Democrat's plan.
Their commonsense solution, and that's why we're so eagerly awaiting it, and that's why we, on this side of the aisle, come to the floor every night to hammer home the point that something must be done. But we can look to see what has occurred over the last 17 months, 18 months of the 110th Congress now that the Democrats have been in charge of dealing with energy. On these three points: on supply, on cost, on security.
On supply. As I stand here tonight, as was already indicated from the gentleman from Pennsylvania, 85 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf where our energy supply comes from, natural gas principally, but oil as well, it's basically locked up off limits to us for further exploration even determining what is actually out there. There was legislation to do that just to say what's out there. Let's find out the information. Off limits to us.
Deep sea exploration. Over 100 or 200--200 miles off sea totally off limits right now. Eighty-six billion barrels of oil, 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be at our disposal to give us greater supply, but it's not.
Oil shales In the Midwestern part of this country.
Oil shales were reported in the paper just today as it was going through committee and will be coming to the floor later on, proposals to keep that off-limits as far as greater supply for the country.
Let me give you some quick little number here. U.S. has two trillion, that's with a ``T,'' two trillion barrels of oil that effectively are involved here. And to put that in perspective, from 1859 from the first days that oil was pulled out of the ground to today, one trillion barrels of oil has been used. And we have basically two trillion barrels over there that we could basically be getting in economically viable ways.
Supply has not been addressed, unfortunately, during the 110th Congress by the Democrats.
Costs. Well, when they were campaigning for office, I know in my district you could buy gasoline for $1.80. Now, of course, it's up to $4, doubling the price, and that's hurting the American family.
What else has occurred during these last 17 months? Four times legislation has come through this House that would raise taxes on energy costs. And who actually pays those taxes at the end of the day? You and I do at the pump or any other ways where we buy our energy.
And finally, there are still proposals, believe it or not, from the other side of the aisle that want to put more taxes on us like 50 cents-a-gallon gasoline taxes has been proposed by Chairman Dingell. So the next time you go to the pump and you're paying around $4 bucks per a gallon of oil, just remember the other side wants to add another 50 cents; and there is another proposal for a nickel as well by Chairman Oberstar. So 55 cents more if they have their way in taxes.
Finally on security. Well, right now this country imports around 63 percent or is dependent upon foreign oil. Places like Saudi Arabia, places like Venezuela, places like Nigeria where they have so many problems, Down south in South America as well; and that number continues to grow for the reasons I have just stated.
Gasoline. We have not built refineries in this country so now we are like many countries across the globe. We have to import gasoline, 10 percent of our consumption of gasoline is coming into this country, which makes us a less secure Nation because we do not have our own supply of refineries right here at home.
Let me move off of what we're doing here on the floor to an outside source to look at this. And the Investors Business Daily has taken a look at this issue. And what they said is this. They said just going back a couple of years, under the eight Clinton years alone, U.S. oil production declined 1.3 million barrels per day, or 19 percent, while our foreign imports increased 3.5 million barrels a day, or 45 percent.
During President Clinton's time, he vetoed legislation that would have increased legislation that would have increased production of our own vitally needed oil supply, not only for Americans but for our national defense emergencies as well.
The article goes on to say--it poses this question. So were the Democrats and Members of Congress together merely short-sighted with only a few having any real business experience, or were they just ignorant about economics, the fact that the law of supply and demand determines the price of oil commodities such as oil, steel, copper, and lumber? Or were they utterly irresponsible and incompetent in their actions that led us to become dangerously dependent on increasing oil imports from foreign companies? We think, it says, we think it was all of the above.
The unintended consequences of the Congress Members' poor judgment and meddling micromanagement of U.S. energy policy is that they actually hurt most of the people that they profess to help: the average American consumer, lower-income workers, and those in the inner cities who can't afford an extra $100 a month to drive to and from work.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is the dilemma we face here in the 110th Congress on a proposal, on plans that do not address supplies, costs, and energy. And that is why I so commend the gentleman from Pennsylvania for the solutions that he's offered over the years as well and his legislation that goes to the issue of supply to increase the amount of energy that the American consumer can attain, to lower the cost of energy for the American family so that they have more disposable income for other needs, and to increase national security to strengthen America to make us more independent of these volatile countries.
And with that, I thank the gentleman.
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