Madam Speaker, tonight I rise because my constituents in my district are sick and tired of paying record-high gas prices while Congress does nothing to increase domestic energy production. Imagine for a moment that you are a regular working mom struggling to make ends meet. You need to get the kids to and from school, you need to get to work, you need to buy groceries, you need to do all of the things that millions of working parents do every day. Then at the end of the week, you stop by the gas station only to find that prices are so high that you can't even afford to fill your tank. What do you think she would want from her representative in Congress?
I know what my constituents want us to do. Everything. We should allow exploration of America's own energy reserves in places like ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf waters. We should bring new carbon friendly nuclear reactors online and begin the reprocessing of nuclear energy. We should invest in clean coal plants with carbon sequestration technologies. We should invest in research and development of alternative energy technologies, be that wind, hydro, geothermal, solar, and we should provide the tax incentives necessary to accelerate their deployment.
In short, we should do all of the above and more. America can neither drill nor conserve its way to cheaper energy. We must have a comprehensive approach that does have both short- and long-term solutions.
Madam Speaker, as a member of the House Science and Technology Committee, I have been a long-time advocate for research development for energy technologies like hydrogen, cellulosic fuels, solar, wind, and green buildings. In my own district, scientists at Argon National Laboratory are leading the way on the development of specialized batteries for special hybrid vehicles. They will allow motors to drive 40 miles before using a drop of gas. That's more than enough to cover Americans' commute to work and back. Then they can just plug the car into a regular electric socket and recharge it for another 40 miles.
I believe that the significant advances in these energy technologies are just around the corner, but in the meantime, we must provide relief to hardworking Americans being squeezed by soaring gas prices, and that means increasing the domestic supply of energy.
America is the only industrialized Nation in the world that prohibits oil and glass exploration in its Outer Continental Shelf waters. Foreign nations, like Cuba, are permitted to drill closer to our shores than the American companies; and yet instead of opening America's vast energy reserves, Congress forces us to rely on expensive oil from the Middle East.
I agree that examining futures markets for excessive speculation and exercising proper oversight is fine and good, but if we want to effectively curb speculation in the oil market, we should show that we are serious about developing our own energy reserves. When more supply is on the horizon developing our own energy reserves, speculators will have much less incentive to invest in oil commodities.
This debate isn't just about the price that Americans are paying at the pump. It's about the growing threat to our economy and our security. Last year alone, America increased its dependence on foreign members of OPEC by an additional 7 percent. How much more money and control are we willing to turn over to nations in these unstable regions of the world? And yet despite this growing threat, Congress is still debating legislation that holds zero potential to increase domestic energy production or help break our addiction to foreign oil.
Madam Speaker, I'm glad that the House leadership has finally realized that we need to bring bills to the floor to address America's energy needs. I just wish the legislation considered today was up to the task.