THE BACHMANN BULLETIN
Yesterday, I completed my American Energy Tour, leg two, in Louisiana. It's all part of my action plan for reducing the price you pay for gas.
Some naysayers have said that we can't get back to $2-a-gallon gas. But, those people are ignoring reality. Did you notice that when President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling, the price of gas started to drop? Just imagine what could happen if Congress really released the oil and natural gas reserves located along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
During my trip to Louisiana, I visited a deep sea oil rig with officials from the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS). That agency, which manages our nation's natural gas and oil resources on the OCS, estimates that there could be about 3.6 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and even more natural gas.
What was most impressive was how much more advanced our technology has gotten since we first banned offshore drilling almost three decades ago. Just as technology has made big advances in the way we communicate (from cell phones to blackberries to text messaging) and the way we care for ourselves (from in utero heart surgeries to liquid bandages), it has made vast improvements in how environmentally safe offshore drilling can be.
This week, I plan to offer a discharge petition to force action on legislation that will open up the energy reserves in ANWR to exploration and production. And, I am working on legislation to provide tax incentives for renewable energy sources. Rest assured I will continue to fight for lowering the price at the pump to spread relief to Minnesota families.
Bachmann Votes to Support Bridge, Road, and Other Infrastructure Programs:
This week, I joined my colleagues in supporting two bills to help shore up our nation's transportation infrastructure. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic 35W bridge collapse, I am pleased to be able to join with my colleagues to improve our infrastructure funding programs to ensure that our bridges and roads are sound, secure and safe.
The first bill I supported is the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act, HR 3999. This bill authorizes $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2009 specifically for the purpose of replacing and rehabilitating structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System. I was particularly pleased that this legislation included language to guard against the diversion of funds for Members' pet projects, or earmarks. For Minnesota, this bill would mean $7,372,202 in funding for bridge reconstruction and, according to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than 1500 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges in our state.
The second bill I supported is H.R. 6532, which would infuse the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) with $8 billion to alleviate a shortfall in Fiscal Year 2009 projected to be between $1.4 billion and $3.3 billion. For years, Congress has raided the HTF, which was set up to separately finance transportation infrastructure investment without depending on general taxpayer revenue. Rather than prioritize spending, Congress has repeatedly tapped into the HTF to fund its own priorities, leaving the trust fund unable to meet our infrastructure needs now when it is so critical.
I must admit: I supported this bill reluctantly. Congress created the mess by raiding the trust fund and it's not fair to make America's hard-working taxpayers foot the bill for this irresponsible behavior. Transferring funds from general revenue to cover the HTF shortfall must not become a precedent and Congress must set itself seriously to the task of reforming the way it pays for infrastructure improvements. The Administration and others offered reform proposals and I was disappointed that these were not even permitted consideration by the House. Given the lack of options, I did feel that I must support this infusion of funds into the HTF, but I am hopeful that Congress can come together in a bipartisan way to develop an improved long-term strategy for funding transportation infrastructure investments.
In concert with this task, Congress must reform the way it approaches earmarking funds. Congress has long abused earmarks to siphon funds from the long list of priority infrastructure projects. For instance, the 2005 highway bill alone included 6,300 earmarks totaling $24 billion. Far too often, this process supplants meritorious projects with those meant to curry political favor. In the end, this is a double loss for taxpayers who foot the bill for the earmarked projects while their important and meritorious infrastructure projects are left unfunded.