MS. GLICK: All right, fair and balanced, now let's take the other side. With us now is Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky.
Congressman, was that offshore drilling bill pulled because it would have passed? What's your side of the story?
REP. YARMUTH: No. What was pulled was because the speaker and others in leadership believed that this bill wasn't perfect, that we had some problems with statutory conflicts. So we wanted to make sure we got it right. But you know, you just have to smile when you hear these arguments because what the Republicans are doing is just trying to perpetuate the last seven and a half years of George Bush and Dick Cheney's energy policy. This isn't an economic argument. This is a political strategy that they're employing.
As we've said, we have no problem with drilling on the land. And there's been plenty of land already open to drilling. There's 22 million more acres in Alaska in the National Petroleum Reserve. It's not in that 68 million acres that's open for drilling. Eighty percent of the offshore oil reserves are open for drilling. The oil companies just don't want to drill. It's not that we don't want them to drill.
MS. GLICK: Okay, let's be fair about this, though. When you talk about more of President Bush, I mean, let's be honest. I mean, oil prices are sky high, they're off the charts. I mean, you look at what's happened in the past month alone. So can't we park aside the bipartisan nonsense here and actually talk about some resolutions? I mean, I understand you're saying that this offshore drilling thing is going to take a long time. But the American consumer is feeling attacks every single day, and they want some resolutions. What short- term resolutions do you guys propose?
REP. YARMUTH: Well, absolutely, I agree totally. And I hear it from my constituents every day. And I have a great deal of sympathy for them and for all Americans. What we're trying to do, one of the estimates of economists is that up to 50 percent of the increase in gas price now is because of speculation. And we know that there's manipulation of this market. It's been going on for years. So what we're trying to do is craft legislation that would end the speculation in gas prices, which many people think would bring the price down immediately by 25 or 30 percent. So that's one thing we're working on very quickly.
MS. GLICK: Okay, Congressman, let me take the other side of this here for just a second. I understand what you're saying about speculators. I trade on Wall Street. I know what the story is here. But a lot of what you deem as speculators are pension and mutual funds who invest in the commodity just as anybody else's investment, and they're long-term investors. How do you box out those people from being in those markets and suggest, a, that they are speculators and, b, how do you look at the 68 million acres that you say are use it or lose it and know for a fact that they have been touched or drilled upon?
REP. YARMUTH: Well, you don't know. But the oil companies actually paid money for these leases, so they're not naive. They know what's there. What we've seen here is oil companies trying to lock up oil reserves, keep them off the market. They don't want to drill. I saw the American Petroleum Institute's spokesman on George Stephanopoulos the other day. He says we don't have the derricks to drill. We don't have the manpower. We couldn't drill if we were able to. It's not that we're not letting them drill, they don't want to drill. They'd rather keep oil in short supply and charge the American consumer for it. Speculation is a part of that. We're trying to work on speculation because I think that's the most immediate impact we can make on gas prices.
MS. GLICK: Okay. An immediate short-term impact as it relates to speculators if you were to get through some legislation, but at the end of the day, we still have a crunch here. We've got a problem. We don't have enough supply. So whether you look at alternative fuels or offshore drilling, we need some kind of solutions. What are you going to come to the table with? Isn't there some kind of bipartisan agreement that can say let's tap into our resources?
REP. YARMUTH: We are. That's what use-it-or-lose-it is all about is actually trying to pressure the oil companies to drill on land that they already can drill on where there are oil reserves. And again, 80 percent of the offshore reserves they can drill for now. They're just not doing it. As they said, it's an expensive proposition. But really, they just want to keep the oil off the market. That's what we're facing with now. I think speculation is the only thing we can do, ending speculation or controlling it, for the short term.
Look, Bush's own Energy Department said that there would be no significant relief in gas prices from drilling until 2030. That's far too long to wait.
MS. GLICK: All right, Congressman Yarmuth, thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
REP. YARMUTH: Thanks for having me.