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Public Statements

The Energy Future of America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

THE ENERGY FUTURE OF AMERICA -- (House of Representatives - September 06, 2007)

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank you for the work on the House Energy Action Team and the leadership that you have provided there on this issue, and for your consistent message that I think most Americans share with us. They understand that fuel sources are abundant in this Nation. The problem is they're restricted. And there is so much regulation and so much red tape that you have to go through in order to arrive at a utilization point for those fuel sources.

Now, we've just come past the second remembrance of Katrina. And as we have done that, and as I spent some time down in the gulf coast region during August, so many people would say, you know, it's amazing to me that the Federal Government has not made significant changes in putting refineries, in opening other resources. We're still centered around here, and the hurricane season is coming. And that causes people to say, I question you for what you have not done. And we hear that from our constituents. And I question you about the price at the pump, because they now understand that a lack of refinery capacity in this country, overregulation of refineries, restricted access to fuel sources, yields a higher price at the pump for transportation fuels. It yields a higher mark on the bill when they get it for their home heating oil, for gas for their home, for electricity for their home. They understand this. And I fully believe that the liberal leadership in this House will have to answer to the American people for the high cost to consumers.

And that's the first point that I want to touch on today. As you look at what was passed in the energy bill they brought forward that really has no energy production in it, it just deals with all these global warming measures or conservation measures at some point but not really with energy. Just looking at the cost of government-mandated efficiency, now, if I have ever heard an oxymoron, that is probably is it. Government-mandated efficiency. It's not driven by consumers, it's not driven by innovators, but by the government saying reach this mark.

What we are seeing is that the new appliance efficiency standards have raised the cost of a good top-loading washing machine, which is the kind I still have in my house. The kind I choose to use is a top loader. They have raised that to over $900. And that is not according to you or me or the Congressional Budget Office. That is according to Consumer Reports. And we know that if the Senate had their way, then it would cost even more. So on our appliances, the mandated efficiency standards are going to end up costing our consumers more when they go to make that purchase.

So the gas to get in the car is going to cost them more. The electricity to power the computer is going to cost them more in order to get to the purchase point for that appliance that is going to cost them more.

Mr. PETERSON of Pennsylvania. Reclaiming my time, it's interesting. Here I have a chart in front of me that I have not seen before but I found very interesting today. Twenty percent of our electricity now is produced by natural gas, and that has been the big user of natural gas that has really forced natural gas prices up because we changed that about 12 years ago. Prior to that you were not allowed to use natural gas to make electricity, only for peak power in the morning and evening when you have this surge. A gas generator you can turn off and on, but a coal plant you can't. A nuclear plant you can't.

But here is the current cost of electricity: Nuclear electricity costs $13.54 a megawatt hour. Coal costs $20.80 a megawatt hour. Natural gas, $49.51 a megawatt hour. Nonhydro, which would be wind and solar, costs $68 a megawatt hour. And the reason for that is that we all wish that wind and solar would produce a lot more energy than they do, but the wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine, and when it doesn't shine and it doesn't blow, you have to have another system that you've paid for like a gas generator that you can turn on or turn off as the wind blows or doesn't blow and the sun shines or doesn't shine, because we have not yet been able in batteries to store this energy, or in some sort of a heat tank, to where we use it later. We have researched with billions of dollars and we will continue to research, but those are very expensive forms of electricity.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. The gentleman is exactly right on that. They are expensive forms of energy and electricity. And one of the other components to that, in our Select Committee on Environment and Global Warming today, we had a hearing dealing with carbon emissions and carbon offsets and the cap and trade system that Europe is currently involved in to meet their Kyoto protocols. Well, the interesting point of this is if you were to enact some of the sequestration encaptured for CO

2 emissions, what we are seeing and what we are hearing from some research is that this could end up raising a household electric bill $40 a month.

Now, what we do know is we have a lot of Americans that would not take kindly to seeing government mandates increase their electric bill every month while we are still not sure if our CO

2 emissions are causing the Earth to warm or if it's cyclical. Is it just part of a natural scientific cycle that our wonderful world goes through? We have times of cooling and times of warming.

So there are lots of questions that are around this issue, and before we make hasty decisions, one thing we need to do is be certain that we tend to what we know is on our plate; that we tend to, first of all, address lowering the restrictions on our domestic sources of energy, making certain that we can avail ourselves of the oil, of the gas, of the coal that we have domestically, making certain that we are doing the right type of research and looking for alternative sources, making certain that nuclear is available for our power generation. As you said, the least expensive, the cleanest form of electric power generation is the new nuclear. And I will ask the gentleman to reiterate those statistics.

Mr. PETERSON of Pennsylvania. Yes. The cost for nuclear is $13.54, and there is a new nuclear. Coal, $20.80; natural gas, $49.51; and nonhydro, $68. Now, we need them all for the portfolio, but we have to have affordable, available energy or Americans won't have jobs. In my view, energy costs are the biggest job killer in America and have been this decade. We blame it on other things, but the cost of energy since it has spiked has stayed there, and we now are at a high plateau where future spikes are coming. We just need a storm, we just need a country to topple, and we'll have $100 oil. And we know $100 oil would be $4 or more for gasoline. We understand that.

I yield to the gentlewoman.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman for yielding. And he is exactly right about the cost and comments about the portfolio. And I think that many of our colleagues would be interested in seeing what the balance is in our portfolio as to where we are pooling our energy sources. And you are right. A well-balanced and appropriate portfolio is going to have many different components to it. Just as with trade, we are going to see many different components in that. We are going to have an opportunity to look at how trade affects this.

And you have just put a poster up about our trade deficit, and we certainly can see where we are fitting in here with some of our natural gas and our petroleum and petroleum products and what that means to our trade balance. And at the same time as we look at trade, we look at the portfolio that we have stateside and look at what is contained in that portfolio, and you are exactly right to bring those issues forward.

I will just say I thank the gentleman again for yielding. I do think that as we look at this issue, the cost to consumers and the effect on our GDP has to be considered as well as moving forward. The gentlewoman from Virginia mentioned a biodiesel alternative,algae, and we know that for carbon capture, sometimes that is used to help spur the growth of that algae that is then turned into biodiesel. So you are using an unwanted byproduct to create an item that can be the genesis for an alternative fuel, making certain that we open up American energy resources for American energy solutions. Our domestic energy supply is abundant. And then in order to capitalize, to be resourceful and utilize that, making certain that we are spurring American innovation to find those solutions.

And, again, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

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