Multinational oil and gas companies are earning record profits while hardworking Americans are struggling to put gas in their tanks. While prices skyrocketed, ExxonMobil made the largest corporate profit in American history last year: $40.6 billion. This is unacceptable.
For too long, Washington politicians allowed lobbyists for the major oil and gas companies to write our country's energy policy. This practice has both hurt the pocketbooks of 5th district residents and prevented America from leading the way on renewable energy development. I am committed to supporting legislation that would provide relief to the countless Americans struggling to cope with runaway energy prices and make long term policy changes to end our harmful dependence on foreign oil.
In the short run, there are certainly steps Congress can, and should, take to reduce gas prices. In April, I called on the President to suspend input into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to reduce gas prices and provide relief to the countless working Americans trying to deal with soaring gas prices. By suspending the input of over 12 million barrels of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next six months, the amount of oil available on the market would expand, and as a result, gas would decrease by as much as $.25 per gallon for the consumer.
This summer, I sent a letter to the Leadership of the House of Representatives urging them to schedule vote soon after Congress reconvenes in September on a comprehensive energy package. This legislation should include the option of some increased offshore drilling, if it would affect prices and could be done in an environmentally safe manner. Of course a country that uses 25 percent of the world's oil and holds 3 percent of its reserves can't drill its way out of this problem, but we can't continue to allow this issue to block other long term energy policy reforms.
The real solution for spiraling gas prices lies in the long run. We simply cannot adequately regulate the price of a product produced by foreign oil cartels. Our best policy against high energy prices is to build a domestic, renewable energy mix that relieves us of our reliance on foreign based energy sources. Toward this end, I supported legislation that passed the House of Representatives to require that 15% of all electricity distributed in the United States come from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. I also believe that conservation should be a federal policy, rather than a personal virtue. That is why I supported legislation, passed by the Congress and signed by the President in 2007, to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars to 35 miles per gallon -- the first such increase in over 30 years.
I also am a co-sponsor of the Safe Climate Act, legislation to enact a "cap and trade" system in the U.S. in order to achieve long term reductions in greenhouse gases and create incentives for the commercialization of renewable energy products. In addition, I joined my colleagues in supporting a rescission of the $16 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry contained in the 2005 Energy Bill, and the transfer of those tax breaks to the millions of businesses and homeowners seeking to purchase renewable energy.
Put simply, strategies intended to end our dependence on foreign oil represent the "holy grail" of federal policy. Investing in domestic, renewable energy will clean up our environment, reduce energy prices, stimulate a new "green" economy in the U.S., and allow our foreign policy to be dictated by our national security needs rather than our national energy needs.