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Public Statements

MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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I want to start with Congressman Markey about this. As I understand - - and correct me if I`m wrong -- everything we look at tells us that our gasoline prices we pay at the pump are a result of global oil prices, that our prices go up and down with Germany`s, France`s, Britain`s. Everything moves up together because we`re all buying oil from the same world market.

If that`s the case, how can he drilling here at home or doing anything here at home change the price of gas at the pump?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You`re right on the mark, Chris. This is not about Obama, this is about OPEC. The price of oil is set by a cartel of OPEC sheikhs who determine how much oil is available on the global marketplace on an ongoing basis because, honestly, our consumption has gone down 7 percent in the United States over the last year during the
Obama presidency, but the price keeps going up.

We`re at an eight-year high in oil production in the United States. We`re at a 39-year high in natural gas production in the United States. We`re at a 12-year low in terms of how much oil we import into the United States.

When George Bush left office, that year, 2008, we imported 57 percent of our oil. This year, under Obama we`re only importing 45 percent of our oil.

So this complete misunderstanding of how the global energy markets work -- that is, how OPEC dictates the price of oil -- is something that Mitt Romney just doesn`t understand. And he`s holding himself out as some kind of macroeconomic -- economic maestro, but in fact, this central fact of life on the planet is something that he does not understand at all.

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman, I want you all -- and Congressman Markey -- look at this chart. We`ve got this chart up on the screen now. We`ve passed it around. It`s evidence, I think, that oil is a global product and prices are set based on factors outside the United States.

Look at the chart. The price of gas in the U.S., here at home, runs almost exactly in sync of the prices in all those European countries, Britain, France and Germany.

The difference is a lot less than because of lower prices -- or lower taxes. In fact, the only reason they`re paying a lot more for gas is they tax more, Congresswoman. See the blue line compared to the red line. It`s moving almost like a -- you know, a heart (ph) meter or something, exactly in sync.

How can a candidate for president say they can change the price of gas here at home if it`s moving with the world market price?

REP. JO ANN EMERSON (R), MISSOURI: Well, I do think it is moving, Chris, with the world market price to some extent. But I do believe truly that if we were allowing more permits for oil drilling here, so we could increase the supply, as opposed to the demand, that we could perhaps bring some downward pressure on the world price.

Obviously, too, we know that events in the Middle East are impacting negatively the price of oil so that it keeps going up.

And I will tell you that this is a real hardship for folks in my very, very rural district. Last week when I was home -- I`ve got my receipts with me here -- gas prices went up 35 cents from the 9th of March to the 14th of March. And that`s problematic because when you`re in a huge
agricultural district, like I am, when folks drive traditionally 30, 45 minutes to and from work every day, it starts making a big difference whether or not they can put food on the table...

MATTHEWS: Right.

EMERSON: You know it`s tough.

MATTHEWS: I understand a challenge, and I understand the politics completely, Congresswoman. And it`s true in every election.

Let`s take a look. We`re producing more than we have in the past. Take a look at the numbers. In 2005, we produced 8.3 million barrels a day. We`re up to 10 million barrels a day in 2011.

EMERSON: But, Chris...

MATTHEWS: We`re importing less and less foreign oil right now. We down -- as Congressman Markey said, down to 45 percent. Most of what we`re consuming here at home, we get here at home, compared to 60 percent. We were taking away -- three-fifths was coming from abroad in 2005.

So we`re moving in the right direction.

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON: But, Chris, what you haven`t said is that we`re only producing here in the United States half of what we produced in the 1980s.

If you go back and look historically, we are only producing half.

MARKEY: No.

MATTHEWS: Is that right, Congressman Markey? I have got different numbers.

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON: Ed, we got that information from the economic -- the Energy Institute, so I think that is correct. And everything that we have read backs up that we were producing twice as much in the 1980s.

MARKEY: That is completely inaccurate.

We produced 10 million barrels of oil a day last year, and we imported approximately 8.5 million barrels of oil a day.

EMERSON: Well, I`m not talking about importing. I`m talking about what we produced in the `80s.

(CROSSTALK)

MARKEY: What I`m saying to you, we are very near right now our all-time high for production in the United States.

If we produce twice 10 million barrels a day, that would be 20 million barrels a day, which would be 100 percent of our consumption. And that definitely was not true in the 1970s, `80s, `90s, or today.

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON: As you said earlier, that we are consuming less, Ed.

So, anyway, needless to say, it is a problem and I think it`s absolutely critical that we try to exploit more resources here in the United States. And I think we have that opportunity.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I think it sounds intuitively correct, what you say, Congresswoman, except that the more we learn and we look at these charts and we look at facts, it shows we have a global price for oil and we suffer from that fact.

If the United States went to ANWR, if it went everywhere in Texas, went back to Pennsylvania and discovered oil in Titusville again, if we went up to Eureka, if we did it all, all that gasoline, all that oil would go in the world market and the Chinese and the Indians would start bidding
for it against us. We don`t lower our price. We slightly lower the world price. Isn`t that correct, slightly by a few cents lower the world`s oil price?

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON: But, Chris, if, in fact, you increase supply, and if world events aren`t impacting price, in addition to the speculators out there who obviously are betting on the fact that there is going to be a lot of problems in the Middle East, which means that they`re speculating up the
price, it still is to our advantage to become more energy independent, even in the North American continent.

MATTHEWS: But that doesn`t lower the price of gas at the pump.

EMERSON: Well, it certainly does make it easier for us to pay for it here in the United States, as opposed to anywhere else.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Congressman Markey, about Newt Gingrich. You used to serve with Newt Gingrich when he was speaker. What does it mean for a presidential candidate to point blank say, I can give you $2.50 a gallon gas?

MARKEY: Well, for that presidential candidate, for Newt Gingrich, I would say that he`s breaking a record for political hyperbole that will never be matched, because, in 1995, as soon as he took over as speaker, and for every year thereafter, he actually added an amendment to the transportation bill prohibiting, prohibiting the increase in the fuel economy standards of the vehicles which we drive in the United States.

And then all of way through the 12 years the Republicans controlled the House and the Senate, they just kept that prohibition in place. And we put 70 percent of the gasoline which we consume into oil tanks. We have been backwards year after year in terms of our fuel-efficiency.

What Obama has now done is increase the fuel-efficiency of the vehicles which we are going to drive between now and 2026 up to 54.5 miles per gallon. If you want to keep an oil sheik over in the Middle East sleepless at night, just tell him that we`re going to double the fuel-
efficiency of the vehicles which we drive.

Who opposed it? Almost every Republican on the House floor last year is seeking to repeal the authority of the EPA to increase fuel economy standards. By the way, in the Ryan budget, the sacred Ryan budget, they pretty much slashed wind and solar down to zero in their budget last year as well. In terms of the future, the Republicans keep looking at it in a rear-view mirror back towards the oil industry, as though that`s our future.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congresswoman?

EMERSON: You`re not even talking about a transition.

First of all, I think it`s unrealistic to talk about having a green -- totally green future here, particularly if we have resources available and we can still cleanly develop those resources, much like you would like to do.

But the fact is, is that it`s unrealistic to expect that we`re going to have green energy totally in this country in the next five or 10 years. And so, I mean, it`s a wonderful idea to have, but let`s be realistic and let`s discuss what it`s going to do, what can we do to help people pay for
the cost of food, medicine and the energy and the gasoline that it costs for them to get from home to work, and what about our producing the crops and agriculture?

It`s very energy-intensive. We provide the safest and most abundant food in the world for everybody in the world. And so the higher the energy costs, the more difficult it is for our agricultural producers to give us food that we can afford.

MATTHEWS: Well, you know, thank you, Congresswoman. You are pointing directly at the political problem that everybody in office faces today, rising gasoline prices.

The tricky question is in a world market situation, what can we do about it? Thank you so much for helping us get at that...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Congressman Markey, 10 seconds, that`s all I got.

MARKEY: Ten seconds.

The Keystone pipeline coming down from Canada, my amendment on the House floor said all that oil should stay in the United States. Almost every Republican -- almost every Republican voted not to keep it in the United States. If we`re going to build the Keystone pipeline, take the
environmental risk, that oil should stay here. We should send a message to Iran as they rattle the markets. And every Republican, almost without exception, voted against it.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK.

Congresswoman, quickly.

EMERSON: Well, we need to have the Keystone pipeline as it is, Ed. And the fact that the president is for an all of the above approach and then says we`re not going to have the Keystone pipeline doesn`t make sense to me, especially in an election year.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MARKEY: What`s the point of building it if you`re not going to keep the oil in the United States, Jo Ann? Keep the oil here. Don`t vote against that.

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON: I don`t really disagree with that notion.

MATTHEWS: OK. We`re in agreement.

MARKEY: Well, almost every Republicans voted against it.

MATTHEWS: We`re in agreement.

MARKEY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: The Republicans voted the wrong way when they voted not to put that oil back in our hands from the Keystone pipeline.

MARKEY: Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson, and thank you, Congressman Ed Markey.

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