America needs to develop a comprehensive energy plan in order to become more energy independent. No one action alone can make our nation energy independent overnight, and that's why it is critical that work begin today on a comprehensive approach for the long term. Congress needs to take action on solutions, including increasing refinery capacity, tapping into domestic sources of energy, supporting research on clean coal technology, investing in the development of alternative and renewable fuels, developing the hydrogen economy and promoting energy conservation.
We must explore every option available to address the cost of gasoline in the short- and long-term, while also ensuring that we always uphold our obligation to remain good stewards of the environment. It is important to focus on the resources we have available to our country within our borders so that we can stop depending on unstable or hostile countries like Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia for our vital energy supplies.
I have voted for responsible oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the outer continental shelf, as well as developing domestic crude resources in oil shale and also to increase refinery capacity and production in the U.S., which has not occurred in the U.S. in over 30 years.
Alternative and Renewable Energy
I continue to support alternative and renewable energy initiatives as part of a comprehensive energy policy. This includes investing in the development of clean, renewable energy, including solar and wind power, supporting research in clean coal technology, and developing the hydrogen economy.
Conservation and Energy Efficiency
Conservation is important and consumers can do their part to make sure their vehicles are running efficiently to increase fuel economy. I drive a hybrid car and believe hybrid technology developments will play an important role in increasing automobile efficiency in this country.
In December 2007, I supported the first increase in fuel economy (CAFE) standards for automobile efficiency in almost two decades, a change that the Department of Transportation estimates could save American drivers 55 billion gallons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions estimated at 521 million metric tons to improve air quality.
I have also taken the lead in investing in mass transit infrastructure like the extension of the Metro system to Dulles airport. Mass transit alternatives can take cars off the road and ease fuel demand and prices in the future.
It is also important to ensure that oil marketers are not taking advantage of consumers. I was pleased to see that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun using powers granted to the agency in the December 2007 energy bill to begin to probe the oil industry for possible price fixing. FTC officials are undertaking extensive research into the workings of the oil industry in order to fully understand what would constitute a violation of federal law. It is also important that the federal government investigate the effect that oil market speculators have on gas prices. Without effective oversight, there is no way to know whether energy speculators are basing their oil trades on market realities or speculation based on fear and greed at the expense of hard-working Americans.