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Energy Independence is the Goal

Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE IS THE GOAL -- (House of Representatives - November 16, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Jindal). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Kingston) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I come from agriculture country in southeast Georgia, and it is always remarkable to me that 2 percent of our population feeds not just 100 percent of the American population but a great deal of people all around the world. In fact, one thing that is even more interesting is that our ag production outpaces our ag consumption. We have more food than we can eat because our farm supply is so strong. Very vital of course to have food, but it is also vital in our society to have energy and fuel for our cars. Yet the world demand and the world supply are almost even. And the gentleman knows from the gulf coast what havoc Katrina played not only on the 90,000 square miles of the gulf coast, but when it comes to energy and gasoline supply, indeed all of America. In fact there was a world disruption because of that.

In the United States, we consume over 20 million barrels of crude oil a day, nearly 25 percent of the consumption for the entire globe; and yet the United States only has about 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Worse than that, we import from countries about 60 percent, and these countries are not always our friends. A lot of it comes from the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait. We have got some from South America, Venezuela. We all remember last week what Hugo Chavez of Venezuela did to the President when he was down there to give him a warm welcome.

Because energy is a national security risk, I have introduced today, along with the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) and a number of Republicans and a number of Democrats, the Fuel Choice American Security Act of 2005. And what this bill does is it seeks to get us off Middle East oil by the year 2015. We will not be free from importing oil from around the world; but when it comes to the Middle East, we will be able to say, We can buy from you, but we do not have to buy from you.

Our bill does a number of things. Number one, it sets a goal. It says that by the year 2015 we will have reduced our oil consumption 2.5 million barrels a day. That is a 10 percent reduction and that would get us free from the Middle East.

It also requires that the General Accounting Office scores energy-related bills that we consider on the floor of Congress, and it gives Members of Congress a clear idea does this bill make you more dependent on foreign oil or less dependent; and does it move you closer to that goal of energy or fuel independence by 2015, or does it move it further away.

Secondly, what this bill does is it provides incentives to automobile manufacturers and to consumers to buy more and produce more energy-efficient automobiles. We double the tax credit for the purchasing of hybrids. We encourage automobile manufacturers to use light materials in the manufacturing of their cars. We put money, or incentives into municipalities to move towards the plug-in flexible fuel fleets when it comes to automobile taxicabs and so forth.

We give incentives to gasoline companies so that they will switch pumps so that when a consumer pulls in, they can have their choice of fuels for their automobiles. We also say that when you purchase tires you ought to know how many miles per gallon those tires should help you get. People do not even realize it, but if you inflate your tires right, you get more miles per gallon. And our consumers do not know that.

The third thing our bill does is it increases energy choice by investing more money into biomass, and that could be any kind of biomass there is. It also takes the import tax off of ethanol from other countries. In Brazil today, 40 percent of the cars run on ethanol. In America, only 3 percent do. Brazil actually has surplus ethanol. We have a goal, we call it E 10 by 10. The gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht) is one of the champions of it. It says 10 percent of the gasoline will have ethanol in it by the year 2010. We are in agreement with that.

But the domestic production of ethanol through the corn supply alone will not get us there. We need to have corn, we need to have sugar, we need to have pine needles. We need to have whatever can get us that ethanol supply. But in the mean time, why are we taxing a source of energy from a country like Brazil? What we need to do is take that export tax off there, and that is what our bill does.

And finally, we ask the Federal Government to audit their agencies to figure out what can you do to save gasoline. One example, I will close with this, Mr. Speaker. Think about Saturday mail delivery. We pay 100 percent of the fuel cost to deliver 30 percent of the mail that we do on Monday through Friday. In this day of e-mail, do we really need Saturday mail delivery anymore?

Those are just some of the things the bill does, Mr. Speaker. It does move us towards energy independence by the year 2015, which is what we need. And I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) for letting me get in front of him.

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