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Congress Must Act to Lower Energy Costs

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Location: Washington, DC

Congress Must Act to Lower Energy Costs

Turn on the TV or open any newspaper and you are immediately bombarded with news of high gas prices and dozens of theories of who is to blame. Oil companies, commodities traders, OPEC, Dick Cheney, and SUV's are all among the favorite targets.

But the fact is Congress has done nothing to relieve any of the pressure on working Americans by failing to come up with meaningful solution to the energy crunch. Instead, politicians and bureaucrats would rather point fingers and try to maneuver for a political advantage in an election year.

Earlier this year, Speaker Pelosi famously said "Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices;" however, since the Democrats took over the Congress, gas prices increased from $2.29 to $4.10. Congressional Democrats have fought efforts to open up new domestic areas to drilling and they have refused to allow new oil refineries to be built in the U.S. for the last quarter century.

Deep down, many Democrats in Washington seem to think that high gas prices will be blamed on President Bush. The higher gas prices are in November, the more blame will be placed on Bush, and the more likely Barack Obama is to become our 44th president.

Republicans for their part have been equally bad on energy issues. For the twelve years they controlled the House of Representatives, Republicans ignored the need for fuel diversity and neglected to ensure energy independence by investing in alternative fuel technologies. Republicans did not push hard enough to open ANWR and other U.S. properties known to contain petroleum reserves. Some Republicans are even naïve enough to believe that Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats will suffer the brunt of the blame come November.

The truth is when energy prices are used as a political football, no solutions will be found and nobody wins -- especially working American families who will continue to bear the burden of spiking fuel costs.

I call on my colleagues in both parties to drop the partisan bickering and political posturing and do what is right for all Americans. I submit we should pass the following measures as part of a comprehensive energy package that will actually lower fuel costs.

1. We need to increase DOMESTIC production of oil and natural gas now. This is a national security risk as well as a flawed energy policy. I support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). We also need to immediately open up leases for oil and gas exploration in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that do not interfere with the mission of the military.

2. I believe the next step towards lowering consumer gas prices is for the U.S. to invest in new oil refineries. In 1982, there were 324 oil refineries around the U.S. and today there are only 132. Because of this cumbersome permitting process and high capital investment we have not invested in new refinery construction since 1976. It is simple supply and demand economics and our ability to refine petroleum has not kept up with our demands. We need new oil refineries now.

3. We need to invest in proven alternative technologies, like biodiesel, by creating additional tax incentives to facilities that produce non-petroleum-based fuel.

4. We need to invest in long-term energy alternatives including but not limited to solar, wind, hydrogen, geothermal, nuclear, and hydroelectric technologies.

The time has come for Congress to drop the partisan games and to develop a comprehensive national energy policy that recognizes the importance of petroleum while at the same time attempts to balance and stabilize other sources of energy. We must also continue to explore ways to reduce demand through new energy efficiency technologies and alternative fuels.

I'm Jeff Miller and that's what I think, what do you think? Email me through my website at jeffmiller.house.gov.


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