Issue Position: Energy
Ending our Dependence on Foreign Oil
The dramatic increases in the price of gas, oil, and heating fuel have placed heavy demands on the finances of families and businesses across the nation. In addition, the damage caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have driven costs even higher while major oil companies continue to record unprecedented profits. Congress needs to take a stand not only to provide short term energy relief to hard working Americans, but to develop and implement long terms solutions that will free our nation from our dependence on foreign sources of oil and secure an innovative and independent energy future for our nation.
In 2004, the U.S. imported an average of 12,097,000 barrels per day, which constituted 57 percent of our daily oil need. Recent increases in energy prices, coupled with the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, clearly demonstrates the need for our nation to diversify our national energy portfolio and develop alternative sources of energy that will lead us to a secure and independent energy future.
To do this, I believe that federal, state and local government must invest in the development of new sources of energy, such as hydrogen fuel cells. Similar to the effort to put a man on the moon, I believe we must marshal all the resources of our government towards this goal. Since coming to Congress, I have been a strong supporter of efforts to foster the advancement of this critical technology.
Retail gas prices have increased approximately 32 percent in the past year, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Since 2001, gas prices have increased $1.14, almost 72 percent. Analysts predict that individuals and families could end up paying $1,000 extra for basic transportation costs this year.
To best address this issue, on August 24, 2005, I wrote the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee urging them to immediately investigate whether major oil companies were taking advantage of Americans at the pump, and provide real relief from rising gas prices. In addition, I wrote to the Secretary of Energy asking what his department has done to address rising energy costs.
In October 2005, I joined with colleagues in offering an amendment during consideration of the Gasoline for America's Security Act that would have eliminated the practice of zone pricing,' a restrictive practice that forces gas stations to purchase their supply from a single wholesaler rather than shopping around for the best price. Although the House Republican Leadership prevented the House from considering the measure, I introduced the amendment with my colleagues as stand alone legislation entitled, the Eliminate Gas Price Discrimination Act (H.R. 3954). This bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where unfortunately, it has failed to be considered.
I am also one of the first cosponsors of Anti-Price Gouging Act (H.R. 3681). The bill would make it illegal to drastically and baselessly raise the price of oil and other critical supplies during times of national disaster. In addition, I have cosponsored of the Federal Response to Energy Emergencies Act (H.R. 3936) which would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the explicit authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy.
In 2004, the U.S. imported an average of 13 million barrels of oil per day from foreign oil producers. While our nation consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day, we only produce 5 million a day - leaving the U.S. dangerously dependent on foreign sources of oil. Recent increases in energy prices, coupled with the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, clearly demonstrate the need for our nation to diversify our national energy portfolio and develop alternative sources of energy that will lead us to a secure and independent energy future.
I have long advocated for robust government investment in hydrogen fuel cells. Pursuing the development and commercialization of fuel cells strikes at the very core of our national security, economic stability, and environmental conscience. We have the technology to provide clean, reliable energy for every person, home, business, and vehicle in America. With fuel cells, we have the opportunity to end America's reliance on foreign energy sources while at the same time creating quality jobs for the next century in a new and expanding technological field. As a leader in the research and manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells, Connecticut will play a vital role in our nation's energy future.
House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus
In June 2004, I joined Reps. Al Wynn (D-MD), Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) in forming the House Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Caucus. The Caucus is a bipartisan group of concerned Members of Congress created to promote and enhance awareness of the issues surrounding an accelerated transition to energy independence through hydrogen and fuel cell technology.
Fuel Cell Funding
Congress has a vital part to play in providing the long-term investment necessary to research, develop, and commercialize hydrogen and fuel cell technology. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PL 109-58) authorized $860 million in federal fuel cell funding and one billion for hydrogen programs under the Department of Energy for Fiscal Years 2006 through Fiscal Year 2010.
The Fiscal Year 2006 Energy and Water Appropriations Act (PL 109-103) provided $81 million for hydrogen technologies and $76 million for fuel cells. While this funding will provide important resources for the development of fuel cells, it falls short of the levels authorized in the Energy Policy Act. As Congress begins consideration of the Fiscal Year 2007 federal budget, I will continue to work with my colleagues to provide the highest possible funding for hydrogen fuel cells.