Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) today called on Energy Secretary Steven Chu to explain the recent increase in gasoline prices. Rush, the ranking Democratic member of the House subcommittee on Energy and Power, made the following remarks at the opening of the hearing on the Department of Energy Budget:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Mr. Secretary for being here today.
Mr. Secretary, it is always a pleasure having you appear before our subcommittee and I must commend you for your knowledge, expertise, and leadership in directing such an important agency at such a critical time in our nation's history.
As you know, high gas prices are on the minds of every American and although we all understand that fuel prices are influenced by a variety of geopolitical factors, to hear my Republican colleagues tell it, it is precisely the Obama Administration's energy policies that are contributing to these sky high prices.
Of course, this logic does not explain why gas prices skyrocketed from just over $1.50 a gallon in 2001 when President Bush first took office, to just under $4.00 a gallon in the spring of 2008 before the Bush recession took our economy over the cliff, but that's an argument for another time.
Mr. Secretary, as the person who heads the Energy Department, I would like to hear your thoughts on how the Obama Administration's policies have helped American consumers, through fuel efficiency measures, the promotion of renewable sources of energy, and other forward-thinking policies that are necessary to move America forward and wean us off of imported oil.
I would also like to get your comments on the record regarding the levels of fuel consumption, importation of foreign oil, and oil and gas production during the Obama Administration.
The research I have seen shows that under President Obama we are importing less oil now than in any time in the past 13 years.
Research also shows that we are producing more oil now than we were at any time in the last eight years.
In fact, since President Obama opened up millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, the U.S. now has more working oil and gas rigs than the rest of the world combined.
Additionally, your agency recently reported that average fuel demand has actually dropped 6.7 percent as compared to the same time last year.
Yet despite all of these facts, gas prices have continued to climb much faster and far earlier than in previous years, and of course, President Obama's opponents are using this as a way to make political hay against the Administration's policies, as you will hear repeatedly here today.
So Mr. Secretary, I welcome you here today and I look forward to your testimony to set the record straight and inform the public of the true benefits of having an energy policy that is forward-looking and will help us plan ahead for the future so Congress is not having this same finger-pointing debate 10, 20, or 30 years down the road.
Thank you Mr. Chairman, and with that I yield back the balance of my time.