Like you, I am concerned by the rising costs of both oil and natural gas. It is important to understand what has driven these increases. Uncertainty in oil rich areas, such as the Middle East, Africa and Venezuela, has created a strain on supply. This reality is exacerbated by increasing demand from China and India, which is beginning to exceed supply.
Generally, I believe that it is important for Congress to enact policies to deter the effect of climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. That said, I also support these policies being coupled with increased authority to permit exploration within our borders, promote alternative fuels, expand refinery capacity, and create incentives to actually deter harmful emissions. Many are unaware that our top trading partners for oil and natural gas are Canada and Mexico, whose governments permit exploration. It is my belief that exploration of oil in places such as Alaska, the outer continental shelf, and even the mid- W est can be done in an environmentally friendly manner.
Further, I believe we must continue to encourage investment in infrastructure which promotes mass-transit options such as rail and bus. Unfortunately, there is no short-term solution to this problem, as oil development and infrastructure, and even alternatives, do not occur overnight and are costly to implement. As consumers, we must either reduce our dependence on oil or increase supply.
Recent oil company profits, coupled with the price at the pump, have raised concern for both consumers and lawmakers. It is important to note that these companies, like all businesses, operate in cyclical markets which are determined by supply and demand. If consumers feel that they are being gouged, they should be aware the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at President Bush's direction, continues to monitor gas prices to ensure that companies are not colluding to keep prices artificially high.
This Congress, legislation has been enacted (H.R. 6) that would increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE), which will increase the fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be responsible for administering the increase. In addition, the measure would mandate the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. The measure also provides a variety of grants for the production of biofuels and infrastructure. I supported H.R. 6 because while not perfect, I believe that it is an important first step to reduce the impact of global warming and to promote fuel alternatives. President Bush signed the measure into law on December 19, 2007.
Previous versions of H.R. 6 coupled an increase in CAFE standards with the repeal of almost $20 million in manufacturing deductions for large oil companies while freezing rates for others. I have consistently opposed passage of these provisions as it is my belief that any new taxes on oil companies will be passed onto consumers and result in higher gas prices.