Solving Our Energy Crisis
For the last eight years, our country's energy policy has been dictated entirely by the oil industry. While big oil companies have been pulling in record profits, high energy and food prices are hurting working class American families. It is absolutely critical that our country develop both a short term plan to lower prices and a responsible long term strategy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
In the short term, there are several steps that Congress can take in order to reduce the economic burden that high crude oil prices are having on family budgets. While we have already suspended new purchases by the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), Congress should immediately authorize the sale of 10% of the available reserves to the public. Such a sale is not unprecedented, and previous injections of supply from the SPR have lowered prices dramatically.
Congress must also take dramatic steps to reign in the commodity speculators who are responsible for as much $20-$60 of the price of a barrel of oil. These speculators are making billions of dollars buying and selling oil futures, driving up the prices for consumers and businesses that actually use the oil. By closing the so-called Enron Loophole once and for all, we can prevent the hedge funds and Wall Street giants from enriching themselves on the backs of the working class and small businesses, and ensure that the price of oil is an accurate reflection of the true supply and demand.
In order to reduce our long-term dependence on foreign oil, Congress has taken several actions that will make our country more energy efficient and independent. I supported legislation that would require a large percentage of American energy to come from renewable sources, and supported higher mileage standards on all new cars. The House also passed legislation to encourage more Americans to take advantage of mass transit, and help the industry cope with record increases in ridership.
Americans deserve a real energy policy, not one that is based on deceiving the American people through election-year sound bites. The facts are simple: drilling offshore, including off New Jersey beaches and in our pristine wilderness areas, will only reduce gas prices by an estimated two cents in 10 years. It will not move us any closer to the energy independence our nation deserves. The fact is that we use 25% of the worlds' oil and only have 3% of its reserves. Big oil energy policies have not worked the past eight years and they will not work for our future.
Congress must continue to aggressively pursue alternative energy development, through tax incentives that encourage corporations and small businesses to invest in new technologies and research. Wind, solar, biofuels, fuel cells and nuclear power are just some of the many American energy sources that we can harness to weaken the grip that foreign oil has over our energy and economy. These are critical areas that must be pursued for the sustainability of our future and I vow to work on your behalf in Washington to ensure we have a sound energy policy moving forward.