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Invest in Energy Independence Act of 2008

Location: Washington, DC

INVEST IN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - May 20, 2008)


Mr. HALL of New York. I thank the gentleman, Mr. Lampson, and Mr. Speaker, it's an honor again to be here on the floor of the House of Representatives, but it's kind of another sad moment to think that the price of oil went to an unthinkable level again today, cresting over $129 per barrel.

Gas prices have more than doubled since 2001, and today, the average gas price in my State of New York is over $4. Oil dependence has become an untenable burden on our economy and a threat to our national security.

Skyrocketing gas prices we see climbing each day threaten to break family budgets that are already being devoured by the price of food, health care, higher education and consumer goods.

Breaking the grip of OPEC and Big Oil is something that our country must do to thrive and to survive in the 21st century. It's a big job that will take some time, and I'm proud to be here tonight to discuss one of the innovative solutions that the majority and this Congress is working on, the Invest in Energy Independence Act, which I'm proud to be a cosponsor of, and I thank my friend for cosponsoring and offering that bill.

I was talking to another Member at the back of the body when we were taking votes I think a few days ago and talking about this very thing. And you came up and said I happen to have a bill that addresses this problem of the Strategic Reserve absorbing 70,000 barrels a day over

and over, day after day, taking them off the market, and creating that much more demand which is helping to drive up the price of oil.

This bill creates a win-win scenario for the American taxpayer. By redirecting through the release of oil from the SPR and restructuring its stockpile, the bill would help to put oil supply on the market to quell prices at the pump in the short-term, and this would also result in revenue to the Federal Government that does not come from increased taxes, which could be used to capitalize a fiscally responsible result and make sure that we take a more permanent action to end our oil addiction. We can't, as many of us have said, drill our way out of our problems.

The bill would invest that revenue in innovative research to develop clean, domestic sources of energy to power our economy. Ending our dependence on foreign oil has to be a top national priority, and to do so, we have to use every tool at our disposal.

Until recently, this administration has been violating the fundamental principle of buy low and sell high by taking oil off the market to fill the SPR at a time when prices were breaking new records and supplies were tight. Smart management of the SPR along the lines called for in Mr. Lampson's bill can make the reserve a powerful weapon in our battle against foreign oil dependence, and I strongly support you in this measure.


Mr. HALL of New York. Thank you for asking that question.

If you read the comments by T. Boone Pickens on the front page of the

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New York Times and other newspapers and magazines recently, he, one of the original oil tycoons and more successful ones, has said that he's more excited now about wind power than he is about any oil field he ever discovered.

Now, all people might not share his excitement. I talked to Ted Turner, who's been a media mogul and then head of record companies, broadcasting companies, Time Warner/AOL, I believe. I remember him back when he was sailing America's Cup yachts. He's certainly been around the world for a while. But today he said the thing he's most excited about as an investor and as a businessman is solar power.

And I see these men and women who have experience and have been observing commodities and observing economies and observing the way the world works and the direction it's going looking not just at drilling. I mean, obviously we're not going to get out of our dependence or our use of oil or liquid fuels anytime soon, especially for aviation.

As a member of the Aviation Subcommittee, I'm keenly aware of the fact that we might be able to move to electric vehicles, to hybrid, gas-electric or ethanol-electric or biodiesel hybrid, plug-in hybrid vehicles, et cetera, and combine these other technologies on the ground. But when we're talking about aircraft, especially I would say our Air Force, our military aircraft, we need to be able to develop and conserve liquid fuels and liquid petroleum fuels for those purposes and not burn them unnecessarily on the ground that we could use other technologies for.

So I would say that I agree to a point and I disagree to another point. The other problem with petroleum-based, carbon-based, fossil fuel technologies is that they're also emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and accentuating the kind of climate change that we've seen.

I would say climate change resonates more with people than global warming, especially on a day like today in Washington where it's cool for late May. But we've seen the cyclone in Myanmar. We've seen the almost biblical flooding in Arkansas and Missouri and parts of our Midwest. My district in upstate New York has seen three 50-year floods in the last 5 years. We've seen Hurricane Katrina. We have seen droughts in the South and wildfires in Florida right now. We've seen the last couple of summers devastating fire seasons in the Western States and the Rocky States.

So, it's not just that the climate will be getting warmer and the glaciers or sea ice in the Arctic are disappearing but that the extremes of all kinds of weather, be they rain events or drought events, be they hot spells or cold spells, be they low pressure systems that turn into bigger tornados or bigger hurricanes or cyclones, that's what the computer models project. And the more we burn oil, the more we push ourselves down that road.

So, it helps us in a number of ways to look at these alternatives. First of all, for domestic, they are not sending our money overseas by the billions, especially borrowed money that we are getting from countries like China or Japan or other countries we're already hugely in debt to. They don't cause asthma and emphysema and acid rain and oil spills. They don't cause us to possibly be drawn into wars in unstable countries in unstable parts of the world that just happen to have oil.

So it's a win-win-win-win situation. Whether or not you believe that the climate is changing, the fact of the matter is if you can create jobs and create new technologies and new industries here in the United States, get us out of our balance of trade deficit and make the atmosphere cleaner at the same time, I'm happy.

And I think a lot of Americans would be happy, too. I think it solves so many problems that it's clearly the direction our policy should be moving in. And I yield back.


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