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Energy Policy

Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY POLICY -- (House of Representatives - June 23, 2008)


Mr. LATTA. Thank you very much, my good friend from Georgia. I really appreciate your being here tonight. And, again, what you say is absolutely what we have to be doing in this country, and I appreciate it. And, again, as we said a little bit earlier, the American people back home get it, but we are not getting it down here in Congress. So I appreciate your words this evening.

Mr. Speaker, we aren't listening to the folks back home. I got home on Friday night from Washington at about 8 o'clock, and gas down at the local gas station was $4.03. I had to speak at our Buckeye Boys State, which was going on at Bowling Green State University on Saturday morning, and I attended one of my county fairs that day and also went to an event at Bowling Green State University that evening. And the only topic that people are talking about right now is what are we going to do in this country about the high prices of fuel? And, again, they understand there's a problem, but, unfortunately, here in this Congress there is a real question if we actually are getting it.

My district, the Fifth Congressional District, is kind of unique in that we are number nine in manufacturing in the entire United States Congress, ninth out of four hundred thirty-five.

What made this country great was the Industrial Revolution. After the Civil War, we watched what happened as the country took off. We had a situation where we had the resources, we had the people, and we were able to produce a product that the rest of the world wanted. And we did great. But the big thing we have to look at today is that energy equals manufacturing, which equals jobs for Americans, and if

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we are not going to be doing that, we're in trouble.

Another great privilege and honor that I have got out there, I am able to go around my district and go to the manufacturing facilities and talk with a lot of the people that are working in these plants. And one of the questions that I always ask them right upfront is how many miles do you drive to work? or how many folks do you have that are driving out of the area? It's not uncommon to hear 30, 40, 50 miles one way for people to come into work. So you multiply that out, and some people driving 500 miles a week. And some people are saying to me, you know what? There's a real problem out there. What happens when gas gets to the price that I'm not going to be able to afford to drive to work and it's not going to be sound for me to do that? We have got a real problem. We have got a real problem. Because the Fifth Congressional District is 140 miles east to west. It's not as large as going to Montana or Wyoming or some other spots in Iowa or some of the other States. But when you're driving that many miles to work, people are going to start asking, is it worth it for me to actually get to work?

At the same time, we have a lot of different manufacturing facilities in Northwest Ohio. We also have certain very unique ones. We have a float glass plant in my district. Five years ago their costs were around $10 million; today they are $30 million. There are 40 of these facilities being constructed in China today. Their labor force is cheaper. So when we are competing with cheaper labor compared to our more highly skilled labor, but at the same price of fuel, let's just say, they are going to win because their prices are cheaper. We can't have that happen.

The other thing we have in Northwest Ohio, I come from the largest farming area in Ohio, and when you're looking at the farmers today, they have been planting corn and soybeans, and they are getting ready in the near future to be out there and are going to be harvesting that wheat. But it costs money. It costs a lot in diesel. It costs in chemicals. It costs in fertilizer. And this is all from the same thing, and all of it is coming from petroleum. So when people say they are getting X number of dollars for a bushel of wheat or beans or corn, you've got to look at what that production cost is. And it's rising. And not only is it rising for the farmers and the manufacturers, but also for that man and woman going into that grocery store every week to try to make sure they have food on the table for their family. The costs are going up.

In Ohio 80 percent of all the goods that are delivered are delivered by truck. We don't have a rail system. We don't have a metro system. We don't have a bus system. People in my area, if you're going to get someplace, you can't walk. You can't ride a bicycle. You've got to get in that automobile and get to work or get to that store. So we have to make sure that folks have that ability to be able to purchase things because if we have too high prices for gasoline, home fuel oil, natural gas, electric costs, rising food bills, that's going to prevent consumers out there from having more disposable income. And when they don't have disposable income out there, what's going to happen? Well, they are going to quit buying, and pretty soon this economy is going to be in shambles. So we have got to do something right now. And, again, the American people understand it, but we have got to understand it here in Congress.

A couple weeks ago when we were having another Special Order, a Member from Texas brought up an example of a person from his district. A trucker from Texas had a load to take to California. It cost $1,500 in fuel costs to get that to California. That trip cost $1,500, and he got $1,700 for the entire trip. By the time you take out all the expenses, the taxes, the depreciation on the truck, he lost money. So we have got a real problem in this country, and that problem is coming up on us right now.

The United States uses about 21 percent of the world's energy as we speak tonight, but the rest of the world is catching up. We were years ago able to make some dumb mistakes in this country because we were always able to correct them quickly because everybody was behind us. After World War II, most of the world all lay in shambles but the United States. But as time went by, these other countries have been catching up, and I think this chart explains it really quickly.

When you look at the energy consumption in this country and where the other countries are, and I'm talking about India and China, you will see that right now we are leading. But in 2015 China and India are going to be at parity with the United States. In 2020 China is going to surpass the United States in energy usage. What does energy usage mean again? Energy usage means jobs. It means manufacturing. And if they get ahead of us, it's going to be very, very tough to catch up. Once again, we have got to do what we have to do for the American people, and that is to make sure that we have the energy to make sure that we have the jobs for the future.

As my colleagues discussed a little bit earlier some of the issues, nuclear, let's just talk about nuclear for a few minutes. France, about 75 percent of all their energy comes from nuclear power. Not only do they have that nuclear power, but they also have that nuclear power they can export to the rest of Europe. So they're producing it and they're shipping it over.

Japan has 55 nuclear reactors with 2 under construction. Russia, 31 reactors in operation and 37 to 42 currently or will be under construction and operational by 2020. India is building 30 new plants in 25 years. They're smaller, about 200 megawatts, but they are building. China, they are building 40 gigawatt nuclear power stations in the next 25 to 30 years. That's 40 in the next 25 to 30 years.

What about coal? As my colleague from Minnesota brought up about all the coal that we have in this country, what is China doing? Well, right now in China, about 80 percent of their power is electrically generated and 18 percent is hydro, and they are getting into nuclear. China is investing in $24 billion in clean coal technology.

India, the third largest coal producer and consumer in the world. India is right there at number three. India and China account for 45 percent of coal use.

Hydro, China is constructing the Three Gorges hydro plant, which is going to produce about 18.2 gigawatts, and the Yellow River hydro plan will produce 15.8 gigawatts.

Oil, as my colleague from Georgia has mentioned, drilling offshore, the Chinese, as he just mentioned and as my colleague from Minnesota mentioned, China is negotiating for oil leases off Cuba 50 miles from the U.S. Canada is negotiating. Venezuela is negotiating. Those are in waters that would be considered areas that the United States should be drilling in, and we are not.

The alternatives/supplementals, China is mandating by 2020 15 percent of energy from wind, biomass, solar, and small hydro plants.

Things are happening across the world, but the real question is what is happening in this country? What is happening in this country? And I am afraid to report tonight not much at all.

As we have talked about, what's been going with nuclear in this country? The last plant to be licensed in this country was in 1977. The last plant to go online was in 1996. When you're looking at these things, we are getting farther and farther behind. There is a lot of different things we can be talking about with alternatives or maybe you want to call them supplementals, types of powers, but I think people have got to know what we're talking about. When we're looking at what one 1,000 megawatt reactor would need, you would have to erect between 1,250 to 1,700 wind turbines to get there. I think wind is great, but I think you have to remember we have to have a base load out there to make sure that we can run our plants.

As the gentlewoman from Minnesota mentioned, the United States has 24 to 25 percent of the world's coal. Well, what are we doing about it? In Ohio we have higher sulfur in our coal, and the problem with that is it costs more to scrub it. But we have the technology. We have an individual from Northwest Ohio that has helped bring about and invent a clean coal technology that we can consume this coal without emitting it. We have hundreds of years of reserves on our coal.

As has been mentioned, the oil shale in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, over 6

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trillion barrels of oil equivalence out there, and what are we doing about it? Absolutely nothing.

[Time: 21:30]

Congress is standing in the way. Oil and natural gas. When we reimport 65 percent of our oil in this country, that is a problem. That is a problem. We need to start doing something. Our friend from Virginia, Mr. Wittman, said a little earlier that what they did with Apollo 13, they had to come up with a solution, and come up with it now. We have got to do that in this country.

John Kennedy, when he was in office, had said that we were going to put a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s. We did it with Neil Armstrong in 1969. But we have got to have a purpose and make sure we get that done.

We are talking about places where we are restricting ourselves. The only country in the world to fight with both hands tied behind its back is this country. ANWR, we have approximately 10.3 billion barrels of oil. As has been mentioned, we are talking about an area of over 19 million acres, and only talking about drilling and exploring in 2,000 of those acres. When you are looking at 10.3 billion recoverable barrels of oil up there, we have got to get up there. As mentioned a little bit earlier, President Clinton, in 1995, vetoed that legislation, or we would be getting that oil right.

Also, as has been mentioned, we have 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas offshore. We have 86 billion barrels of oil. Of that, the Federal Government denies access to 92 percent for oil drilling and 90 percent of that area for natural gas. As has been mentioned, even if we got that oil to this country, we haven't done anything for over 2 1/2 decades on refinery.

A bill has been introduced here to say if people have that NIMBY, that ``don't put it in my backyard,'' how about using an abandoned military base to put these facilities in, these refineries.

The scary thing we have got going out there is this, is that as we watch more and more American dollars being spent on all of this fuel and all these other dollars going overseas, and of course we have a $9 trillion debt right now, the scary thing that we have got going out there is who's buying our debt. Right now, we have about a $9 trillion national debt. About $2.6 trillion of that is owned by foreign countries. Japan owns, as of the April statement, about $592.2 billion, and the Chinese have about a half a trillion dollars of that debt.

We have got to act now. We can't wait. We can't make mistakes. We have to explore, drill, we have got to conserve. We have got to do everything that has been mentioned here tonight. We have got to look at those alternatives of supplementals because, again, you talk to a lot of folks out there and the question as to alternatives, well, maybe don't have enough base load out there.

So we have to make sure that we get those wind turbines up. Again, people object to those. In my district, out my back door I can see the only four wind turbines in the State of Ohio. We have solar, with two companies, one in production right now in my district, another going to be going online here in the near future, producing solar panels. I have another company in my district working on hydrogen. There's ethanol, there's biodiesel, but everything put together, we have got to go out there and do it all right, and do it all right, and we've got to do it now.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that the time is now. The American people are demanding action from this Congress, and we can't make the mistakes of the past because we don't have time to catch up.


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