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Press Conference With House Republican Leaders - Energy Legislation With Rep. George Radanovich; Rep. Louie Gohmert; Rep. Lamar Smith; Rep. Paul Broun

Press Conference

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Location: Washington, DC

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REP. : (In progress) -- offshore drilling expires at the end of September. It's in the appropriations bill, and they expire on September 30th. And it will take an active, positive act by the Democrats to reimpose it. Let us see if they will. If they put it in a continuing resolution, we will oppose that. But the Democrats are going to have to reimpose the moratorium positively by the end of September, and we're going to oppose that.

REP. RADANOVICH: Thank you. And also, a gentleman from the great state of Texas Mr. Louie Gohmert.

REP. GOHMERT: Well, it has been interesting yesterday hearing the majority leader mention that they are so proud that as soon as they came in and took over the majority, one of the earliest things they did was pass, according to him, the most comprehensive energy conservation package as possible and also the most comprehensive alternative energy package as possible.

And so it's been interesting. A year and a half later now, what do we have to show for their great comprehensive energy bill that was not comprehensive? It has got us gas prices about $1.50, $1.60 above where they were back then. So, so much for the promise that "when we take the majority," as Speaker Pelosi promised in 2006, that they would have a plan to bring down gasoline.

And it was interesting visiting with Ralph Regula yesterday, though, about the moratorium, where it started. It started from wealthy land owners in California who wanted and moratorium and got it. Then the wealthy land owners on the beachfront property in Florida wanted one because California did. And then we've got it up and down the coast.

Folks, we've got hurricanes that are coming into areas where we allow drilling. And we know that Katrina was a level five when it hit the platforms, even though it was a three when it hit the coast. At a five, it devastated some of those platforms. We have no oil on the beaches to show from that devastation because they were properly secured. We're way beyond the days when that is a problem.

That should be done in areas where we don't have hurricanes but we have oil and gas that can be produced. Chris Shays has said, it used to be that New England was opposed to any drilling off its coast. And now that's why Canada, our good neighbors, are willing to drill just beyond the boarder line between the U.S. and Canada off the coast. And then New Englanders seem perfectly happy to import that from being drilled off the coast. It must be apparently drilled off somebody else's coasts just as long as it's not ours.

Folks, we gotta get beyond that thinking. We need the whole nation to help with our energy needs. And we can bring down the price of gasoline so that in the interim, while we're working toward the alternatives that we all want to move toward, we all want to get there, we can still have American energy providing American jobs and quit financing the other side of the war on terror. We gotta stop that. It makes no sense.

REP. RADANOVICH: Thank you, Mr. Gohmert.

Next is another gentleman from Texas Mr. Lamar Smith.

Lamar.

REP. SMITH: Thank you, George.

Good morning. I'm Congressman Lamar Smith from the 21st District of Texas.

I came up to Washington from San Antonio yesterday afternoon just to be here this morning to be able to go on the House floor. And I came up for two reasons. One, to say, Madame Speaker, give us a vote. And two, to let the American people know that we're on their side.

When I was first elected to Congress a long time ago, I represented the west Texas area, the Permian Basin. And my district produced more oil and gas than any other location in the continental United States. So I have a personal interest in what's going on.

What I have found out, though, in talking to constituents over the last several weeks is that the high cost of fuel impacts every single individual. Whether you're going to work, whether you're running a business, whether you're just eating, all that is adversely impacted by the high cost of gas.

Something else you may not have thought about. I was in Austin, Texas on Tuesday and talking to the law enforcement agency there, the police department. Well, here's an example of how the high price of fuel even impacts our ability to provide services to protect communities. The Austin police department uses 5 million gallons of gas every year.

Well, the price of gas had gone up $1.35 in the last two years since the Democrats have had a majority in Congress. That translates into over $6 million that just the Austin police department now has to spend on gas. That is going to hurt the other part of the budget. So when you pay for the gas, it means something else is not getting done. But this is just an example of how the high price of gas does impact everybody's lives.

I was at a San Antonio food bank two or three weeks ago. And they said, because of the high cost of gas, the high cost of transportation, the high cost of harvesting crops and planting crops, that food staples had gone up 10 to 15 percent in the last year. And so the price of food has gone up. The price of eating has gone up.

All this basically shows the necessity of our trying to achieve energy independence. And when we're importing 60 percent of our oil, as we are today, we're basically held hostage by other countries, and they have control of what's going to happen to our economy. So that's why we need energy independence. That's why we need the American energy plan. That's why we need all of the above. We need to have alternative sources of energy. We need to have more nuclear.

But two-thirds, the great majority of our energy for the foreseeable next 30 to 40 or 50 years, is still going to come from oil and gas. And that's why we need to explore for and produce more of American energy. We'll talk more about this on the House floor in just a minute.

Thank you, George.

REP. RADANOVICH: Thank you, Lamar.

Next is a rising star in the Republican conference Mr. Paul Broun.

Paul.

REP. BROUN: I'm Paul Broun from Georgia.

We have to stop this dependence upon Middle Eastern oil and Venezuelan oil. It's a national security interest. It's an economic interest. The high gas prices is hurting everybody. It's particularly hurting the poor. It's hurting the retirees, those that are on limited income. We can bring gasoline prices down.

I represent Augusta, Georgia. Just yesterday I was in Augusta, and fuel prices there have fallen by about 50 cents per gallon. Why? They've fallen and have started have coming down because of the president rescinding his prohibition of the executive prohibition on offshore drilling. If Congress will pass a bill, the American Energy Act, we'll see gas prices plummet.

Nancy Pelosi needs to get off her book tour and come to Washington and let us have a vote on the American Energy Act. The American Energy Act does everything that we need to do. It allows drilling in ANWR. It allows drilling off shore. It looks for alternative sources of fuel. It looks to wind. It looks to solar, hydrogen, biomass, all those things. It promotes conservation. It also makes it easier to have nuclear energy which is absolutely critical for America. It makes it easier to put in oil refineries so that we can have lower cost of gasoline.

I was asked in a recent radio interview how quickly gas prices would come down if we passed the American Energy Act. I believe they'd come down overnight. Just as we've seen gas prices come down somewhat since President Bush rescinded the executive order to prohibit offshore drilling, if we would vote on the American Energy Act, we'll see lower gas prices immediately.

Grocery prices are high. Medical prices are high. Every good and service in America are going up because of high energy prices. We have to make America energy independent and we need to do it now. I call upon Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to come back to Washington, just as us as Republicans are here and have been here ever since we voted to adjourn on the 31st of July. We have to make America energy independent. That's what this is all about.

We'll continue to go to the floor every single day. We're here during the August break demanding a vote on the American Energy Act to make America independent from foreign sources of energy. It's absolutely critical. National security is dependent upon it. Our economy is dependent upon it. The American people are dependent upon it.

Nancy Pelosi, come back here and do the people's work, not be in Denver or anywhere else! Come back here! Let us have a vote so that we can make America independent for energy! Thank you.

REP. RADANOVICH: Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Mr. Broun.

And I want to thank everybody for being here. Today, it's 27 days and counting since the August break and no return of the Democrats to the House floor to pass what America needs, and that's energy relief.

Mr. Broun was correct. A simple signal to the world oil markets that the United States is going to increase its domestic oil production will dramatically affect both the short-term and the long- term price of gas because any signal to the world market the United States will do that will have an immediate affect. So it's timely. It's something that happens now.

They may have their convention in Denver. They may not want to be able to come back. I'll tell you what, come back next week during our convention in Minnesota. We'll be willing to do that and come back to the House floor in order to do what's good for the American people.

So come back, Speaker Pelosi. Open the house, let us use our voting cards, turn on the voting machines, and let's get oil relief for Americans immediately.

I want to thank you very much for being at the press conference. And we'll be inside telling our story to the American people.

Any questions?

Q (Inaudible) -- advocate for drilling in ANWR and offshore oil drilling -- (inaudible) -- primary. What do you make of that? (Inaudible.)

REP. RADANOVICH: Well, we're here to talk about energy relief. And Congressman Don Young has been right all along on his position on ANWR. This is something that makes all the sense in the world. The United States has the most environmental laws and regulations regulating production of oil.

We are the most responsible, I think, environmentally, country in the world. Those that are concerned about ANWR, spoiling that environment, end up farming our energy supplies out to countries that have lower standards and don't do near as good a job. We're talking about anywhere between a home base to a postage stamp on a football field. This is not much when you really look at the footprint up in ANWR.

He deserves 100 percent support for advocating for this, not only for Alaska but for the United States. It's becoming now more apparent than ever because of the worldwide demand for oil is increasing and won't stop increasing. India and China being on the world stage, now it's more relevant than ever to open up ANWR in the responsible way that we are proposing. It's one of the elements in the American Energy Act and should be supported.

REP. BROUN: Can I say something? America's drilling for ice on Mars, yet we can't drill for oil in America. It's insane! We have to drill here, we have to drill now. We have to tap into our energy resources. We have to develop other energy resources. So it's absolutely critical for the good of the American public, not only today but the future. We have to make America energy independent, and that's what this is all about.

Republicans are coming back every single day. We have been since the 31st of July. We're coming even with the House floor being dark, with the microphones and cameras cut off. We're here trying to do the people's work. While the liberal Democrats are listening to the radical environmentalists, they won't allow us to vote. It's crazy. We have to have a vote to make America energy independent. That's what we're trying to do.

REP. RADANOVICH: Any other questions? Thank you very much.

Yes.

Q How difficult is it for you to try to get some attention to this issue right now as Democrats are (enjoying ?) their convention?

REP. RADANOVICH: Well, you know what? I think we're getting it. When I'm out in my district in California, I'll go into my local hardware store to pick something up. And they'll look at me, and they say, why aren't you in Washington? Because they know what's going on here. And so more than once, people have reiterated how important it is for us to pound this issue until the Democrats understand.

But I do believe, with your help, these cameras and the position that we're taking here on this marathon, that people in America know exactly what's going on. They've said that to me a number of times, and they appreciate the fact that we're interfering with our recess and our time back with our constituents to be here continuing the fight.

Thank you.


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