BEACH PROTECTION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 10, 2008)
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Mr. CHABOT. Madam Chairman, I rise to express my deep disappointment with today's debate in the House. With our Nation facing record high gas prices, the majority leadership in the House has chosen to debate legislation not on securing reliable and affordable energy, but on beaches.
I suggest a better use of our time and the American people's time would be to have a serious debate about energy. How are we going to make energy more affordable in the short term? How are we going to make energy more affordable as the Nation needs to be more independent in the long term? What will be our primary fuel source in the future, and how do we get there?
Instead, in recent months we have periodically debated shortsighted and fatally flawed legislation that purports to fix our energy problems simply by raising taxes by billions of dollars on domestic energy companies and hoping for the best. That is not an energy policy, that is a tax increase on every American family. Energy companies will inevitably pass on their additional costs to consumers at the pump.
We should be debating legislation to streamline the Federal permitting process that has stifled construction of new oil refineries. We haven't built one in 32 years. We could be talking about benefiting consumers by simplifying our Nation's fragmented gasoline supply. The number of regional boutique fuels restricts the movement of our fuel supply and raises costs on Americans at the pump.
We could be debating the merits of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, and the Outer Continental Shelf for energy exploration. We know that combined these areas have nearly 100 billion barrels of oil. Previous Congresses, urged on by their radical environmentalist allies, made the decision to keep these vast reserves off-limits. As a result, we see oil now at $110 a barrel. It is time we revisit the very important issue of being able to go after resources we have available to us in Alaska and in the Outer Continental Shelf.
What about encouraging the construction of nuclear power plants? We began that process in 2005 with the passage of the Energy Policy Act. But as we stand here today, we haven't built a new plant in decades. European and Asian nations are building them by the dozens. India has nine new plants under construction. Japan is building five more. And China has plans to build 30 reactors. We in this country have plans for exactly zero on the way.
Let's talk about how we intend to compete with China, which is canvassing the globe in its quest to ensure a reliable supply of oil. Reports indicate that the Chinese are forming energy partnerships with rogue nations like Iran and Cuba. And Cuba is purportedly planning to allow the Chinese to drill for oil off the Florida Keys, off our Florida Keys.
Shouldn't we be talking about boosting domestic production simply so we wouldn't have to rely on the mood of Third World dictators like Hugo Chavez? Wouldn't it be nice if prices didn't spike at your neighborhood gas station when terrorists decide to blow up a pipeline half a world away, or when there is instability in Nigeria?
Some may argue, and they might well be right, that oil isn't the long-term answer. It is a finite resource that may be scarce in the near future as developing nations like China and India continue to expand and industrialize; maybe so. But shouldn't we consider boosting our oil and natural gas supplies, increasing our energy independence that might just buy us the time necessary to develop the next fuel source? Maybe hydrogen fuel cell technology will take us into the next century. Maybe it is some other renewable resource. It could be a combination, or maybe something we haven't even discovered yet. We don't know. We do know that America has substantial reserves of oil and natural gas that we have locked up, we have placed off-limits. These resources could be the bridge that allows America to cross over the choppy waters of OPEC and Third World dictators to the secure footing of affordable and secure energy sources of tomorrow. Let's talk about these important things. Let's not talk about beaches.
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