During the energy crisis of the 1970s, America imported about 40% of the petroleum it needs to meet it energy demands. That figure has now reached nearly 70%, presenting dangerous energy and foreign policy challenges for our country.
The status quo of relying on foreign sources of oil is unacceptable. That's why Rep. Frelinghuysen is aggressively supporting efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign oil through extensive research and development of renewable energy and energy alternatives. Wind, solar power, hydrogen power, and other energy sources hold great promise for reliable and cleaner energy sources to fuel our cars, run our businesses, and heat our homes.
To speed the transition to new energy sources, we need to accelerate the use and development of technologies and fuel alternatives Congress has already put in place. The Congress has made historic investments in developing fuels made from diverse energy sources. To prevent more pain at the pump, we must do more to develop smart, reliable, and long-term alternative energy solutions.
In the short term, Rep. Frelinghuysen is also fighting for our nation to build its first new oil refineries in 30 years. A few years back, our nation learned an uncomfortable lesson when Hurricane Katrina shut down refineries on our Gulf Coast. Storms and other disruptions may not have such a volatile impact on the price of gasoline if more refineries existed to guarantee production.
Twenty-nine percent of our oil production and 20 percent of the natural gas is in the Gulf of Mexico. The northeast U.S. relies on millions of miles of pipeline from the Gulf Coast region for 60 percent of its total oil supply. Further, 50 percent of the nation's heating oil is refined in the Gulf of Mexico, of which 82 percent is consumed in the Northeast U.S.
Last year, the House passed H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act which included many provisions aimed at greater energy efficiency. These include tax incentives for alternative fuel vehicles and requirements for lower emissions from fossil fuels.
Rep. Frelinghuysen has also consistently supported higher Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards since coming to Congress. More information on CAFE standards can be found at the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration's website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/cafe/overview.htm.
Since 2000, the federal government has invested over $3 billion in renewable energy. For fiscal year 2006, Congress has continued this investment with $343 million overall for renewable energy programs -- geothermal technology, hydrogen technology, and wind technology systems. Additionally, the Energy Policy Act provided significant new funding for a clean coal power initiative.
The Congressman also remains a steadfast supporter of fusion energy research, much of which is conducted in New Jersey at Princeton University. (http://www.pppl.gov/) Fusion energy has the potential to become an unlimited, safe, environmentally friendly and affordable energy source.
Nuclear energy research and development should receive more attention and funding for programs that include nuclear hydrogen and the Advance Fuel Cycle Initiative. The initiatives will provide alternative fuel sources as we look to decrease our dependency on fossil fuels. However, nuclear power development can only proceed with the licensing of new reactors, and a comprehensive nuclear waste management program that includes new technologies to process waste so that its energy can be harnessed and the remains stored more efficiently.
Rep. Frelinghuysen is also a supporter of the President's "Hydrogen Fuel Initiative" which seeks to make fuel cell technology commercially available by 2015. More information can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2006/energy/index.html.