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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. I thank my colleague.
According to AAA, the average American is paying over $4.04 per gallon of gasoline today. Meanwhile, Communist China and Fidel Castro's Communist Cuba are moving forward with drilling for oil and gas just 45 miles off of the coast of Florida and Key West.
We cannot even drill for oil or gas 200 miles off our own shores; yet congressional Democrats continue to refuse to allow access to American gas and oil supplies. The average price of gasoline has gone up $1.71 per gallon since Speaker Pelosi's promise, promise, to lower energy prices at the beginning of the 110th Congress, this Congress.
What have the Democrats done to try to help hardworking Americans? They're simply seeking political gain from America's pain. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said he wants to impose more taxes on U.S. oil companies. Is that really a smart solution? This will only drive up prices on Americans, not just for gasoline but for every product or service purchased. Even worse is that foreign oil companies will not be subject to this joke of a solution.
The liberals propose raising the Federal tax on gasoline and diesel by 50 cents per gallon. This is on top of the already existing Federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. Under this proposal, you will be paying at today's prices $4.54 a gallon for gas.
Liberals also suggest mandating ethanol and renewable fuel production and selling it as the answer to America's energy needs. The 2007 lack of energy bill has already proven that the Democratic solution is wrong. Mandating the production of renewable fuels has only led to an increase in world food prices.
It is, at best, disingenuous, and at worst, an outright lie to say that renewable fuels can meet America's needs in the near future. As a good southerner, I love my corn bread and grits. It makes no sense to put corn in the tank of my truck.
The Department of the Interior estimates that there are 112 billion particles of recoverable oil beneath U.S. Federal lands and coastal waters, enough oil to fuel 60 million cars for 60 years. The United States is the only nation in the world that forbids any production on its Outer Continental Shelf. Despite a decades-long record of environmentally responsible offshore production, over 80 percent of America's oil and natural gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf are completely off limits to exploration and production.
The OCS, Outer Continental Shelf, is estimated to hold at least 419 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas resources and 86 billion barrels of oil. To put it in simple terms, this is enough natural gas to heat 100 million homes for 60 years, and enough oil to drive 85 million cars for 35 years, and enough oil to completely replace current Middle Eastern oil imports for 59 years.
We've heard time and time again about how drilling off the OCS will harm the environment. This is hogwash. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a single drop to be spilled, yet congressional Democrats continue to pander to far left environmentalists instead of mending the pains of hardworking Americans.
Liberals also prevent any access to billions of barrels of oil located in ANWR. The entire area of ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five States--Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware--yet the proposed drilling area is equal to one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport here in Washington, D.C.
Energy prices are soaring. And the financial pain that families are feeling at the pump is forcing them to decide what they can and cannot spend. Congressional Democrats act as if they have been living under a rock by continuing to ignore the demands of the American people and refusing to do anything to lower these burdensome prices.
Skyrocketing gas prices and a risky dependence on fuel supply by volatile foreign nations highlight our need for an American energy policy that emphasizes production and decreases our reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
The United States is the only nation on Earth that forbids development of its own natural resources. Right now, America is drilling for ice on Mars, but we cannot drill for oil in America. This makes no sense. It's crazy. It's idiotic. We must drill on our own lands, and we must drill now. We must streamline the permitting process and the refinery processes to get new refineries online, and we must end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Mr. Walberg, I greatly appreciate your doing this tonight; it is absolutely critical. I'm a medical doctor, as you know. I have patients who have to decide whether they can go to the doctor or not because gasoline prices are so high. I have patients who have to decide whether they can put a tank of gas in their car or they can go buy medications. This has to end. And we can do something about it. We can do something about it now if we have a responsible energy policy.
Our conference, as you know, has put forth a plan, a reasonable plan, an economically viable plan, an environmentally sensitive plan, a plan that will end this dependence upon Middle Eastern oil. It's a plan where we can provide the energy sources, not only our oil resources, but provide electric resources by permitting nuclear energy.
We have not built a new refinery in America for 30 years. We have not built a new nuclear reactor in 25 years. This is nuts, it's absolutely crazy. And we've got to end this idiocy of this current policy.
I applaud what you're doing here tonight. I look forward to further discussion from our other colleagues. I know that we have colleagues that want to ask questions and want to engage in a colloquy, if that's agreeable with you.
Mr. WALBERG. Well, Congressman Broun, I think we want to do that. And I think you've brought up some points that are interesting to think about. Not only do we have a governor riding a bicycle to the Capitol, we are exploring for ice on Mars, but not doing exploration for oil--that we know is there----
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. That's right, it's just nuts.
Mr. WALBERG. In Alaska, in ANWR.
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Anywhere. We've got oil under South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. Those three States evidently are just floating on a sea of oil. There is supposed to be more oil, from what I understand, than is in the Middle East.
We can end our dependence on these foreign nations that want to destroy us, that want to destroy America. They hate us. And we're fueling the insurgency in Iraq. We're fueling these people who hate us. They hate our freedom, they hate America, they hate everything that we stand for.
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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Thank you, my friend, Mr. Walberg. I just wanted to ask Mr. Upton something before he left. You were mentioning that it takes some energy to produce this energy. And the people on the
other side, the leadership on the other side has been promoting these alternative sources of fuel. Ethanol has been one. And you are on the Energy Committee I think, isn't that correct?
Mr. UPTON. Yes. The gentleman is correct.
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Well tell me if it is true. I understand that to
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produce ethanol today, particularly corn-based ethanol, it actually takes more energy to produce that corn-based ethanol than the ethanol itself produces. Is that correct?
Mr. UPTON. Well, there have been different studies showing different things in terms of what to count. One of the bills that I have cosponsored, it is actually a bipartisan bill, is to look at increasing ethanol from nonfood source, or noncorn, and there are a couple of bills to do that using switch grass and a number of different things. We are not quite there in the technology, but we are not too far away, within a couple of years. And I think we ought to be investing more on that type of technology so that we can take some of the pressure off these rising food prices. I represent Kellogg's as well, as does the gentleman in the well, Mr. Walberg.
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. I am talking about corn-based ethanol because I am excited about switch grass and other sources of potential, and I believe we need to investigate any source of energy anywhere.
Mr. UPTON. Now that the price of oil has gotten up to $135 a barrel, there is a lot of things that 1 month ago weren't economical to do. And that is why by putting more alternative fuels in the mix, we can have some downward pressure on the overall price of gasoline. And obviously ethanol is part of that mix, whether it be corn-based or nonfood items, and we need to explore those and see what we can do to put downward pressure on the overall price of gasoline.
Mr. BROUN of Georgia. I agree with that totally. The other thing is propane is a byproduct of the refinery process of gasoline as well as natural gas. And we already know that propane is an environmentally protective agent. And we have had, in the past, fleets of cars fueled by propane. I know at my hunting camp down in rural southwest Georgia, I have fueled my house down there in my hunting camp with propane. And I know a lot of people heat their homes with it. And most propane, from what I understand, is produced here in America and sold here in America.
So tapping into our oil sources would give us an additional source of energy that we are not getting today if my understanding is correct, and so we can further protect the environment by having more propane utilized in our own energy, as well as stop the production of carbon in the atmosphere that the environmentalists are so bent that it is causing global warming. And I am not so certain about that. I don't really think that is so.
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