Congressman Pascrell has spent nearly 12 years in Congress fighting for the protection and preservation of our air, land, and water, in order to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all Americans. He believes that we must take back our finite natural resources from polluting industries that favor the bottom line over the public's interest in a clean and healthy environment, and has taken an active role in advancing legislation that achieves this goal.
Bill was a member of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment for ten years, and continues to fights every day for tough clean water standards and the federal dollars to help states meet their commitments. He works hand in hand with the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA, steering dollars to important flood control and mitigation projects such as the Peckman River, while ensuring the protection of our natural habitats.
In 2007, he worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft legislation that will invest badly needed funds in our clean water infrastructure, to protect the public health from dangerous pollution. His bill, the "Water Quality Investment Act," overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and ensures that our cities and towns will have the funds they need to repair aging sewer systems that overflow during wet weather events.
Bill has also worked to move America towards an energy independent future, most recently through his strong support for the "Energy Independence and Security Act." This landmark energy package will increase fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, lower energy costs, begin the reduction of global warming, and strengthen national security. Americans are ready to lead the world on clean alternative energy, and after years of inaction, Bill has helped to make this dream a reality.
However, given how high gas prices have climbed in recent months, Congressman Pascrell knows that we need to go even further. The United States needs both short and long term solutions to our energy crisis, easing the burden now while encouraging efficiency and renewable energy in the future.
In order to address high gas prices in the short term, Bill voted to halt storage of oil in our national stockpile, called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, to keep more crude oil on the market and increase supply. Filled to 98% capacity, a record level, the SPR is the largest stockpile of government-owned emergency crude oil in the world.
Bill also voted to tap into and sell some of the oil held in the SPR, to help lower prices even further. Selling even 10% of its stocks would help lower gas prices here at home and leave enough stocks to cope with a complete foreign supply disruption for nearly two months. In 2000, after releasing oil from the SPR, the price of oil came down by nearly 20 percent in just one week. This will provide real relief within 10 days, not 10 years.
In addition, Congressman Pascrell has fought to reign in excessive speculation in energy markets. Better federal oversight of these dark markets could reduce the price of crude oil by as much as $70 a barrel and reduce the price of natural gas by one-third.
Bill also believes that domestic production is a large part of the long term equation. He worked to require oil companies to start drilling on the 68 million acres they already have access to before they attempt a land grab for additional leases, and he supported legislation that would speed the development of oil reserves in Alaska. If this Alaskan oil is produced, along with the 68 million acres of already-leased land, U.S. oil production could nearly double.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that while the U.S. has only 1.6% of the world's known oil supply, we use a quarter of what is consumed worldwide everyday. Those who single-mindedly push "drill, drill, drill" neglect the fact that it is impossible to simply drill our way out of our energy problem.
Congressman Pascrell knows that America needs an innovative, comprehensive energy strategy to tackle this crisis head on, one that's efficient, sustainable, and lessens our impact on the world around us, and that is what he continues to fight for in Congress.
He has also dedicated himself to bringing much deserved recognition and resources to the Great Falls Historic District in Paterson, where Alexander Hamilton famously implemented his vision of an economically-secure America. In a fruitful partnership with community leaders, Bill has made important strides towards one day realizing the vision of the Great Falls as both a tourist destination and a refuge for local residents, most recently passing legislation in the House of Representatives to create a National Historical Park at the site.
Bill is one of the most stalwart supporters of environmental conservation in the United States Congress. He will work every day to promote policies that ensure that we give the next generation an environment as breathtaking as the one we have received.