ENERGY SOLUTIONS -- (House of Representatives - July 16, 2008)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 18, 2007, the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Mrs. Bachmann) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
Mrs. BACHMANN. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that designation of hour, and the purpose for being here this evening is to focus on the number one issue that many of us are hearing from our constituents back home, and that's the pain that they're feeling over the increase in energy prices.
There are a number of us here that are serving in the United States House of Representatives that are hearing the American people, Mr. Speaker, and we are crying out, as our constituents are crying out, to make sure that something can be done.
And the reason why we're bringing this discussion here before this body, the most magnificent body on the planet, the floor of the United States Congress, where freedom reigns, we're bringing this up here because the United States Congress is the entity that caused the current problem that we're under, and let me explain why.
The United States Congress has made it virtually illegal to access America's rich storehouse of energy resources. I know it's hard to believe, Mr. Speaker. It's almost impossible to believe. Why would any group of people, especially in a country where there's freedom, want to restrict access to energy resources? It doesn't make any sense.
So a number of us are here this evening because we want to talk about the possibilities that there are to have energy independence in the United States and to reach the very possible goal of getting back to having Americans pay $2 a gallon or less.
So, to start off this evening, I'd like to call on my colleague and I'd like to defer to him, Mr. Patrick McHenry from the great State of North Carolina.
Mr. McHENRY. I thank my colleague for yielding, and Congresswoman Bachmann, thank you for your leadership here. This is your first term in Congress. To take such an active role on energy policy is very helpful, not just for Minnesotans but for the rest of the country as well. Thank you, and thank you for hosting this hour as well.
I think it's important that the American people understand what's happening in terms of energy policy. This challenge was not created overnight, nor will it be fixed overnight. But we have to take steps now to make sure we have an American energy independence day in the future. And what we can do now to decrease the price at the pumps is to increase supply. I think the American people understand the laws of supply and demand, but let's talk about some of the basics of energy.
First of all, the American people, we consume about 20 million barrels per day; yet we only produce roughly 6 million barrels a day of oil. Now, what that means is we have to import the majority of our oil. Now, that's a dangerous position to be in.
Two of the largest countries we have to import oil from are Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. We know through Hugo Chavez in Venezuela that they're not allies. We also know through terrorist attacks around the world that the Saudi Arabians are not allies either, though they may say it.
Now, this puts us at great risk, not just in terms of our national security because we have to import the fuel from overseas, but it's also a matter of economic security, which we're facing right now.
And folks from Western North Carolina where I represent, they're hurting. The American people are hurting. We're in an economy fueled by oil. It means that every product delivered to market has to be on a truck, a plane, a train, some sort of oil-powered transportation.
Now, that's a risky position we have to be in. So what we have to do now are take positive steps to increase American energy production. How do we do that? Well, we have to streamline the process for licensing so that the oil companies can go out and actually explore areas within Federal control, for instance, off the Outer Continental Shelf. That's an area in the deep waters off the coasts of North Carolina, across the eastern seaboard, off the coast of Texas and the gulf coast region. It's also off the west coast as well.
We have large supplies of oil that have been taken off-line due to congressional action. These areas have been off-line for energy exploration and production. So that means that we can't get oil out of those areas; though, we know oil is there.
We also have areas like remote areas of Alaska, for instance, that are off-line for energy exploration and production. We also have a resource called oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West. We have three times the reserves of Saudi Arabia tied up in oil shale. We have oil here in the Rocky Mountain West that we just need to be able to tap, but Congress has made a law preventing us from doing so.
Now, you can see and the American people can understand and do the math here; yet it's congressional action that's preventing us from being independent when it comes to energy, especially oil.
We also have challenges with natural gas, but going through all this, we understand that we have to increase American production of oil.
In World War I, we produced 67 percent of the world's oil, during World War I. Less than 100 years ago, we produced two-thirds of the world's oil here in the United States. You know, we also invented drilling of oil. We invented the oil derrick here in the United States. We developed the technology, even the drill bit, and everything used to produce oil was originally an American invention, which brings me to the next phase here.
We have to use American ingenuity to go that next step beyond oil, to go that next step beyond natural gas. We can do that. The American people, we have brilliant minds here, brilliant minds. We have to unleash those brilliant minds on this challenge that we have in an oil-powered economy, and we have to break this monopoly that oil has on all that we do as Americans.
And the way we do that, I have a piece of legislation called the Independence Prize. It's a $1 billion prize for a private sector innovation for an American company to produce an American idea that makes us energy independent as Americans. How wonderful is that? We could unleash the private sector on a large public policy issue and thereby take that next step away from oil and natural gas to some future form of energy.
Now, until that day comes, when we have some new American idea to power our economy, we must make sure that we have energy exploration and refining here. We also have to make sure that we use coal. We also have to make sure we use nuclear power. We have to use the resources that God gave us here in the United States.
And if we do that, we can be energy independent.
But we have to have the will of the American people behind us. In the most recent poll, 73 percent support Outer Continental Shelf drilling and energy exploration. Now, that means the American people are behind more energy exploration. The American people also want wind and solar and biomass and all sorts of alternative energy sources to power our economy. And we should do all of those things.
Now, my strategy, and I think the conservative solution--and the American solution, better yet--is to do all of the above when it comes to energy. It's a massive problem. We have to have a massive answer to this by taking every answer possible and pursuing them all.
We're a great Nation, the strongest economy in the world, though we're facing enormous challenges right now brought on by high gas prices and some other challenges. But with the power that we have of the American people, by American ingenuity we can be energy independent. We can increase supply of oil in the meantime to bring down the price of gas at the pumps.
I'm so grateful that my colleague, Congresswoman Bachmann, is hosting this hour to ensure that the American people can hear directly what we're facing here in Congress. And it is the liberal Democrat-controlled Congress that refuses to bring up legislation that I've outlined and that Congresswoman Bachmann will be talking about this evening.
Now, it's the failure of action that has resulted in high gas prices. And it's high time Congress acted so we can actually become energy independent as Americans.
Thank you, Congresswoman Bachmann.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I thank the gentleman. I appreciate, Congressman McHenry, your passion, your work on the issue, particularly the work that you are doing offering that spectacular prize.
One thing that we do understand and know in the depth of our bones is that American innovation has never died, it has always been alive and well. And when you hold that tremendous carrot out there, we know the American people can deliver, Mr. Speaker. That has been proved generation after generation. Every generation has been presented with a crisis.
Today, in the United States, this Special Order hour and the speakers who will be speaking now during this time are addressing the number one challenge of our age. And the great thing is the fact that we have an answer. It's entirely possible to solve this crisis. And we know the formula: It's explore here in America. Do it now so that the American people can get back to paying $2 a gallon for gas or less. It's entirely possible, and it can be done.
That's why so many of us are excited. This coming weekend the Republican leader, JOHN BOEHNER, will be hosting a trip with about 10 freshmen, and we will be doing an American energy tour. On that tour, we will have a chance to go to Golden, Colorado to take a look at the national alternative energy laboratories, where we can find some of the ideas of the next generation, innovation that is yet to come on energy use and independence. And from there we will go up to Alaska, to ANWR, where there are proven reserves.
To speak out more on ANWR tonight, I've asked, and he has accepted, the Representative from western Iowa, Representative STEVE KING, who has been to the ANWR region of Alaska, who has been there, who knows the value of energy independence.
Before I yield to my brother, I want to just highlight today in the Financial Services Committee--of which I am a member and of which Congressman McHenry, who was here speaking before myself, is also a member--we had the occasion to have the Federal Reserve Chairman, Mr. Ben Bernanke, in front of the committee today. And for all of us this was an enlightening moment because the Federal Reserve Chair stated without blinking an eye today in committee, he said, ``A 1 percent increase in supply of energy''--American energy--``could lower prices by as much as 10 percent.''
Mr. Speaker, this is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who told
our Committee on Financial Services that if you increase the source of American supply by even 1 percent, you can lower the price at the pump by 10 percent. Well, Mr. Speaker, the Republicans in the United States House of Representatives want to increase American supply vastly more than by 1 percent. We can do that, and we can get back to $2 a gallon of gasoline.
So now I would like to take the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to yield to my colleague, the esteemed Representative STEVE KING from western Iowa, on the issue of ANWR.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentlelady from Minnesota. Thanks for organizing this Special Order and thanks for taking a leadership role on this energy issue and a number of other issues and establishing yourself here in the United States Congress.
The issue of ANWR is something that I've talked about some in the past. And I will try to confine my discussion to ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And I will start this way: A couple or 3 years ago I was at the Iowa State Fair where they asked us, as elected representatives, to give a 20-minute speech while the press listens to the 20-minute speech, then they write some stories about what we said and we get into the news. So Members of Congress line up there and candidates line up. And I drug a bale of straw down to stand on.
And so I was standing there on a bale of straw at the Iowa State Fair, and I began to tell people about ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And one of the things that I said was, there are no trees in ANWR. And if you've seen a commercial, perhaps a commercial published by the Sierra Club, that shows or imagines a pristine alpine forest, if you see a picture of a pristine alpine forest and people are telling you we can't drill in ANWR, I can guarantee you it's not a picture of ANWR. It's not a picture of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The first thing we need to remember is that ``arctic'' means up in that area north of the Arctic Circle. The definition of the Arctic Circle is--go back to your eighth grade general science, Mr. Speaker, and ladies and gentlemen, where we learned in about eighth grade that the Arctic Circle is that circle around the globe north of which trees can't grow. And so, by definition, if it's the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, there are no trees up there.
And so, in any case, there was a trucker standing in the crowd that began to scream at me, ``liar, liar''--which is no way to treat a public servant. And I was ready to come down off of that bale of straw and deal with him like the boys who grew up in the corn fields, but in the end I convinced some other folks to go down there and do what I would do if I didn't have to give the speech.
And the paper wrote up a story about how Steve King wasn't entirely accurate because they talked to a botanist who alleged that there was a tiny little sliver of plant that grows within the tundra that doesn't get more than 10 to 12 inches tall that technically could be considered a tree, not one you could cut a log out of, not one you could climb, not one that a squirrel would recognize as a tree, but according to a botanist, a tree just the same. So I guess you could say that maybe there are some trees in ANWR, but they aren't as tall as the tundra grass. And that's all that you'll see out there for millions and millions of acres.
Part of it's the Brooks Range, a lot of it is mountainous, mountainous bare stone with snow that's on it 12 months out of the year 24 hours a day. But we're talking about drilling in the oil deposits in the Arctic Coastal Plain. The Arctic Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge people imagine as just teeming with caribou and arctic wolves or fox or whatever they have up there, all of this teeming with wildlife because they've given it a name called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Speaker, there are 19.6 million acres in ANWR. Most of it is mountainous--and we don't want to go in there, you couldn't get a drill rig in there anyway. We want to drill the Coastal Plain. The Coastal Plain is just a flat coastal plain, pretty close down near sea level. It undulates a little bit, and it has permafrost all of 10 months out of the year. And then when it thaws and when the sun shines and the midnight sun shines on it, it will penetrate down through the permafrost a foot to 18 inches, something like that.
And so we hear people like Senator Tom Harkin say, I went to ANWR and I camped up in ANWR and I floated a river in ANWR--now I didn't see any rivers there, but I take him at his word--he floated a river in ANWR, and he could dip his cup into the water and take a drink. And he thinks that's pretty nice and we ought to keep it that way.
Well, it still is that way. You can float the rivers on the North Slope of Alaska and dip your cup in the water and drink them and they're just as clean and pristine as they ever were. I would be a little worried about the polar bears walking through it, a little worried about what the salmon do in it, but nonetheless, if you choose to drink out of that river it's going to be as safe for you today as it was 50 years ago or 100 years ago. But that's no reason to deprive the United States of America of energy.
And so, the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for example, the North Slope of Alaska, which we've already developed, has a caribou herd there--actually, it has several of them scattered around. In fact, in 1970, when we began to open up the North Slope of Alaska and they said, you'll destroy this environment, and so we can't go up there and drill. And the environmentalists stuck some court injunctions on it and they were successful for 2 years in keeping us out of there.
But when they started that, there were 7,000 caribou on the North Slope of Alaska running around out there, eating the Arctic tundra grass that was there. And then we went ahead and started building the pipeline in 1972 and completed it in 1975--and perhaps I'll go back to that. And then we watched that caribou herd that went from 7,000 head of caribou in 1970 to--about 3 years ago when I did this trip and we had the count--28,000 caribou on the North Slope of Alaska. Well, that would convince me that the environment, if there was any damage up there, surely it didn't damage the reproductive capabilities of the caribou. And I made that statement to a reporter one day, and he said, well, of course there's a lot of caribou on the North Slope of Alaska, that's because the pipeliners shot all the wolves. Now, you've got to be a little bit off on the other side to come to an immediate conclusion like that.
And I can tell the gentlelady from Minnesota and the Speaker, I can tell you that that aim that he took was way off the mark on pipeliners shooting all the wolves that would have eaten the caribou and held the herd down to 7,000 head. That didn't happen. It didn't happen by the pipeliners because I was signed up to go up on that pipeline. And I can tell you what it paid, it was $9.75 an hour in 1972. And we worked seven 14-hour days of the week, and we did that for six weeks. We got 2 weeks off. I didn't get to go because of the court injunction--I was actually signed up in 1970--the court injunction shut down my travels up there. So that was the situation.
And that was a lot of money in 1972. They had to pay that kind of money, $9.75 an hour, then because here were the rules: We're going to hire men to go up there and build these roads and these pipelines and drill these wells and open up this oil field. And the rules are this; first rule is, no women. You have to pay a man a lot of money to go someplace where there are no women. Second thing, no booze. And I'll add a little more to the per-hour scale of that. Third thing, no gambling. Well, it's pretty tough when you've got nothing to do up there, with no booze and no women, to do anything but gamble. The fourth thing was, no guns. So if there's no women, no gambling, no booze and no guns, there were no pipeliners shooting any wolves on the North Slope of Alaska. Therefore, one could conclude, short of another one of those crazy explanations, that the caribou thrived with the new environment that they had, which allowed them to get up out of that ice cold water, where they were dropping their calves during calving time, and up on the dry near the Alaska Pipeline, where it's warm, too.
So what we have is this: We've developed the North Slope of Alaska. We did that from 1972 until 1975. We built a 600-mile road from Fairbanks North to get up there to Prudhoe Bay and Deadhorse access--milepost zero of the Alaska Pipeline--to build an 800-mile pipeline from Deadhorse on the Arctic Ocean down to the Port of Valdez, drilled a bunch of wells up there, sunk the casings down, cemented the casings and put pumps down in those casings. You can fly over that area today, the North Slope of Alaska, the identical environment and topography of ANWR, and I can take Dennis Kucinich up there, my friend, and I would have to point to him and say, here's a well, here's a well. He wouldn't recognize them from the air, even flying along at about 4,000 feet or less, because, first of all, there are no derricks up there, not one. There are only six drill rigs working in Alaska now because of the environmental lawsuits that
have shut them down. And so you'll have a hard time finding a drill rig, there won't be derricks in the North Slope.
And when you think of the pump jacks, the traditional oil well pumps that have the counterweight that chug around, they aren't up there either. So unless you're an expert, you're not going to even see where the wells are.
But if you look real close and you know what you're looking for, you will see these work over pads that I judge to be about 50 feet wide and maybe 100 or 125 feet long, big enough to bring a rig up on if you need to pull the pump out. And it's a pad of white rock, maybe three feet thick or so, and they use that in the wintertime, come in on an ice road if they need to work on a well, and go in and pop the cap off and go down and start pulling the pump pipe out, they go down and pull out a submersible pump from down there, work the pump over, put in a new one, drop it in, get the well going again. But there is not a pump sitting above the surface of the North Slope of Alaska that I could find. There may be some out there that I couldn't see.
So what we've done is, in a very environmentally friendly fashion, gone into identical environment and topography on the North Slope of Alaska, developed an oil field with 1970s technology, built a pipeline 800 miles long, built a road 600 miles long to get up there, built a service road alongside that pipeline part of the time--and most of that's ice roads today--got all of that done from '72 to '75, and pumped oil. And yet I stand on the floor of this Congress and I hear people on the other side of the aisle, you and you stand up and say, well, it's going to take 10 years to get oil out of ANWR. And the other night it was 20 years to get oil out of ANWR.
And so I look at that and I think, wait a minute, we had the Manhattan Project. We started after the beginning of World War II to build an atom bomb, a series of them, figure out how to deliver them and how to penetrate the air defenses of Japan. We built the atom bombs, we flew them over Japan and we dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Three plus years to do the Manhattan Project.
And then, what else was amazing? Let's see. It was in 1963, when John F. Kennedy said, hey, let's go to the Moon. That little nudge that he gave in that important speech inspired America and NASA, and 6 years later we're on the Moon with Neal Armstrong. One giant step and we're on the Moon, 6 years.
And they are telling us that we can't build 74 miles of pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, Deadhorse access, east over into ANWR and hook onto some wells that we would sink down and not get oil coming out for a decade or two until another generation has come and gone? That's a defeatist attitude. That's not the America I know.
And there is no argument that the environment was damaged on the North Slope or they would have brought up posters here and put this on the floor over and over again.
So we need to drill ANWR. We need to drill the Outer Continental Shelf. We need to drill the nonnational park public lands. And we need to drill everywhere all the time. It's not an environmental issue. The issue is people that want to ride bicycles instead of drive cars, that's the people on that side of the aisle that are shutting down our access to energy.
I thank the gentlewoman from Minnesota.
Mrs. BACHMANN. Thank you, Representative King, for your firsthand eyewitness experience of the ANWR area. I know the freshmen that are planning to go this weekend can't wait to get that same bird's-eye view.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Will the gentlewoman yield for just a moment?
Mrs. BACHMANN. Yes, I would be happy to.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Thank you. I had forgotten that you're going, and I am so glad that you're going up there to see it for yourself.
Now, when you get in that 19-passenger twin-engine Grumman and you fly out of Deadhorse and you fly over to Kaktovik, ask that pilot to get down real low and have everybody on that plane looking for wildlife. We did that. We zigzagged around across the Coastal Plain looking for the wildlife.
I forgot to tell you there is no resident caribou herd in ANWR. They live in Canada. They come over to have their calves mid-May until mid-June. When the calves can walk, they go back. It's a kind of migrant maternity ward is what it is. They go back to Canada and live over there, and they're doing fine. So this is after mid-June. So fly around out there and look around for wildlife. What we found when we looked were four musk oxen standing there with their heads down. They wouldn't have known if they were standing next to an oil well or not either.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I thank the gentleman for yielding back.
We are excited about being able to go up there this coming weekend. And just think, here we are at the end of July. The end of July. And when we had our briefing this afternoon, what we were told is that essentially we should be taking with us a waterproof down parka. So this is not necessarily an area where we are going to find tourists lying on a beach. There probably couldn't be a better square footage area on the planet to drill than the ANWR area. And I know the freshmen that are going look forward to having another Special Order when we come back, Mr. Speaker, so we can report to the American people on our findings.
Before I yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio, I just wanted to mention that one argument that we have been hearing a lot from the Democrats who are in charge of Congress--the Democrats control the agenda both in the House and in the Senate. And it's really mind bending to think that the Democrats have taken virtually no initiative whatsoever to add even one new drop of oil into the American pipeline nor one new watt of electricity. It's absolutely true. There has been complete inertia on the part of increasing America's energy supply.
What have we heard from the Democrats? We have heard for a catcall from them that 68 million acres that are leased out right now to companies that want to produce energy in America that apparently, according to Democrats, they're just sitting on that land.
Well, now, first of all, that doesn't make sense. My husband and I are business owners. One thing business owners don't do because there's not a lot of margin, there's not a lot of fluff or paddling left in your business budget, you don't just buy assets and leave them to not produce. It's a nonsensical argument from the Democrats. When they're saying that there are 68 million acres that are being leased, recognize, as the people, and your Federal Government, Mr. Speaker, deal with onshore and offshore leases, they told me this: They said, Representative Bachmann, every single acre is leased, and every single acre is in the current range of exploration. It takes so long to permit. And then the Federal Government allows 11 different points in the permitting process where lawsuits can be filed against the people who want to produce energy. So these energy producing wannabes are in a very difficult position of putting their capital on the table, their money on the table to try to drill for energy, and at the same time they have to wait for these artificial timelines to expire for a permitting process and they have to deal with these nonstop lawsuits. It's amazing anyone wants to go into the business. And yet, unfortunately, this is the only thing that our colleagues on the other side, the Democrats, have come up with as an excuse on drilling. It doesn't make any sense to me. I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, it makes no sense to the people who are watching tonight.
So I would like to yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio, Mrs. Jean Schmidt, for her comments now on energy.
Mrs. SCHMIDT. I want to thank the gentlewoman from Minnesota for providing us this hour for a commonsense view on the energy situation and for my colleague from Iowa for his bird's-eye perspective of what it is actually like in Alaska.
Behind me it says $2 a gallon. I wish I could say that it was a long time ago that we saw $2 a gallon at the pump, but it really wasn't that long ago. And that's unfortunate because Americans are feeling squeezed as they see the price at the pump continue to rise.
You know, since the new Congress took over in January of 2006, we have seen an almost 70 percent increase in the price of gas. So that means every time Americans go to the pump, they're seeing more and more of their precious dollars out of their wallet being used for their transportation costs. And this is making them make some really tough decisions.
Discretionary spending is down, which is, in part, affecting our economy. Americans are feeling squeezed, and some are feeling that squeeze when they try to feed their family at the table.
And you might ask what does food cost have to do with petroleum? Well, it has a lot to do with petroleum. Half of my district is agriculture. And I hear from farmers that the cost of producing their crops, their grain, their cattle is rising exponentially.
Mrs. BACHMANN. Reclaiming my time, I had the Minnesota turkey producers in my office just a few days ago, and they told me that their energy prices have tripled this year in three different ways: One is in the area of feed. Another is the climate control that they have to have in the turkey houses. In Minnesota it gets hot and it gets cold. And then the third is on the transporting of the birds both to and from being produced. So they said they're getting hit on every single level. And the Minnesota Farm Bureau was in my office yesterday. They told me the same thing.
It doesn't matter which part of agriculture we are talking about. In Minnesota we have a lot of
agriculture. Our farmers are feeling it, and not only are our farmers feeling it, our constituents, every time they go to the grocery store, are feeling it. So I thank the gentlewoman for bringing up this very important point.
I yield to the gentlewoman.
Mrs. SCHMIDT. Exactly. Because everything they do to produce the food at our table has some sort of a petroleum element to it. It's hard to remove the petroleum element from the production of food.
But farmers are not alone in feeling the price at the pump. Governments are also feeling that price, and I think we forget about that. Local governments especially are hard hit with the pain because their ability to garner dollars for their governments are so restricted. When you just think about police departments and how much fuel they use and how much of their budget is now eaten up with the price of fuel, what kind of decisions are they having to make in order to meet their fuel costs?
It's not just the police departments. Think about your road departments. When you put asphalt on the ground, that's petroleum based, and so now you're looking at trying to put new pavement on the ground. You're looking at an exponential rise in the cost of that pavement. What kind of decisions are being made there?
But it's not just that part of local government. Think about our schools and how hard hit our schools are because it's not just in keeping their buses running, which is, again, fuel based, but keeping the lights and heat on in their schools. How much of their budget is being eaten up in operational costs, costs that should be going to educating our children?
But my folks in my district, especially the rural parts of my district, are being especially hard hit, and it's because we don't have the luxury of mass transit when you get to parts of my district like the eastern part of Clermont County and Brown County and Adams County and the rest of the counties out east. So they have to rely on cars to get to their jobs. And when you look at folks in Adams County and Brown County and you look at their average commute to and from work, it's not surprising to see them go over 100 miles a day to and from work just to put the food on their table. And when they see gas prices rising from $2.33, which was the average price of a gallon of gas 2 years ago, to $4.09 a gallon, which is the average price today, you can imagine what kind of a bite that's taken out of many of the folks in my district.
It is our responsibility to address this problem and address this problem now. Our folks are saying they can't afford for us to wait. They can't afford for bickering and partisan politics. They want us to come together and solve this issue. And we can do that. But it requires us to do two things, my good friend from Minnesota. It means increasing the supply and decreasing the demand. And that's what we can do and do now.
When most Americans are asked in poll after poll, they're willing to drill, drill in the Outer Continental Shelf, drill in Alaska. And they understand that we now have technology that is environmentally sensitive to do this.
But it's not just drilling that will solve this issue. We must also decrease demand. And Americans are doing their part. They're driving less. They're conserving their energy. They are doing their part. They are doing what they can because they have got strained wallets. It's up to us to complete the task and do ours. But, unfortunately, this new Congress, with its Democratic leadership, lacks the will to do just that.
It is the middle of July, and we have done nothing to address this situation. Why aren't we looking at drilling and not just drilling but looking at wind, solar, hydrogen, nuclear, all those things that will help us reduce the demand for foreign oil and increase the supply of energy here in the United States?
My dear friend from Minnesota, the American public expects us to act and act now. They are tired of our bickering. They're tired of the partisan politics. I thank you tonight for talking about this critical issue. I am willing to roll up my sleeves. I know you are willing to roll up yours. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to do our part because we can no longer wait. Thank you.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio, JEAN SCHMIDT, for her work that she has done and for listening to her constituents.
I know off the floor we have talked about the beating that your constituents are taking on this issue. I know your heart is breaking for the people back in your district in Ohio. You see the reality of how this is impacting people.
And you spoke about petroleum, how petroleum is a part of every meal that we have. And I know that truckers in Minnesota told me that everything you have on your table takes about on average 1,200 miles in a truck or in some form of transportation to get to that table. So if we haven't seen increases in groceries, and I know in Minnesota we have seen increases in groceries, we are going to continue to see them if we don't solve this problem. We can get back to $2 a gallon gasoline. It's entirely possible because we have the resources.
So I thank you for your fervor on this issue. And I know one thing: Had the Republicans been in control of Congress this year, we would have seen action. We wouldn't have seen inertia. Just like the Republican-controlled Congress passed measures before in previous years to drill in ANWR. Unfortunately, when those measures made it to the Senate, they weren't passed. The one year when both the House and the Senate passed a bill to begin drilling in ANWR, which was in 1995, unfortunately, President Bill Clinton chose to veto that legislation. We would have had all of that oil online and swooshing down the pipeline from Alaska down to the lower 48 so that we could have had that available.
Mrs. SCHMIDT. If we had acted in 1995, look where we would be today. I don't think we would be in this energy situation, this energy crisis that we're in. I don't think we would see a downturn in our economy, because we would be relying on ourselves and not the rest of the world to keep our lights on. It is incumbent from not just a national security perspective, an economic security perspective, but the perspective of the American public that we act and we act now. I thank you so much for this opportunity.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I thank the gentlelady.
With that, I will yield to the gentleman from Ohio, your colleague, Mr. BOB LATTA, a new Member to this body as I am a new Member to the body, but a longtime friend of liberty and an individual who understands the importance of American energy independence. And I thank the gentleman for his willingness to be a part of this hour this evening.
Mr. LATTA. I thank the gentlelady from Minnesota for this hour and for her leadership on this issue. It is an important issue. It is probably the most important issue facing this Nation today. Our well-being and our economic independence relies upon it. And the other Members that have spoken, the gentlelady from Ohio, the gentleman from Iowa and the gentleman from North Carolina all touched on these major issues that we have to be looking at from ANWR, to drilling, to making sure that we have energy conservation in this country.
So I thank the gentlelady for her time here tonight and for her leadership. The big issue really is this: The people back home understand what the issue is, and Congress doesn't. That is the big issue. We have had many telephone town halls that we have conducted. The people back home, the vast majority of that hour and a half is all dedicated to one thing: What is Congress going to be doing about energy in this country? We have got to be doing something right now.
Why is it important? Because you have to think about a few things. As we have seen in these charts and the graphs tonight, when gasoline is over $4 a gallon, when diesel is over $4.69 a gallon, we are talking energy equals manufacturing equals jobs. It spreads out across the economy. And when you are talking about spreading across the economy, we have people having to pay more and more and more for the energy to put in their vehicles, energy to put in their trucks and tractors and to heat their homes this winter.
We are in trouble because we have been told over and over that Americans aren't saving enough. We're not saving enough. Well, if we are going to put more and watch more of our dollars go overseas, and a lot of people are starting to see the commercials, that T. Boone Pickens is running right now showing how many dollars are flowing out, over 65 percent or 70 percent of every gallon of oil that comes into this country is imported that we are using, 65 percent. That is really a tough thing for us to be doing.
So we have to make sure that the future holds that America can take care of itself. Because we want to make sure that our kids can have a good college education, that people can buy a home, that people can make sure they can save for their future, for their retirement.
But if all we're going to be doing is putting more and more dollars into an envelope and shipping it overseas, that is not the future for America. It has already been stated, we have to produce and we have to conserve in this country. But we can't wait. And it has been talked about earlier, when President Clinton vetoed the bill back in 1995, we would have 1 million extra barrels of oil flowing down here every day, 1 million barrels. But we don't.
And it's also the naysayers saying that, well, it might take time. Well, we don't know how much time we're talking about. We can always say it can take 10 or 15 or 20 years. But it can take a lot less. But that is the spirit of America. If we put our minds to it, we are going to get it done. We're in a crisis. And in a crisis, that is where America shines. So we want to make sure that we start working on this.
The other thing that was mentioned by the gentlelady from Ohio, my colleague, is that when you're talking about all these groups out there, organizations, local government and schools that are being hit hard, one of the things she didn't mention is the volunteer firemen out there. We have a lot of volunteer fire departments across my entire district. We don't have a lot of departments that are there 24 hours a day. And a lot of these volunteers out there are now saying we don't know if we will have enough fuel to get to these fires. Because there is just not enough money. The price keeps going up. They are running at a cash crunch.
We talk about public safety out there that we have to worry about. And we're talking about those volunteer firemen out there that have to make sure that they get that fire truck to that fire in time.
The other thing happening in my district right now is across the entire country. It is wheat harvest time. And so the farmers are out there bringing in that wheat. But again, they're paying a lot of money to do it. And not only once they get the wheat harvested with the combine and with the diesel fuel, but then they have to put it in trucks to haul that wheat to the elevators or wherever it is going to be stored. So again, there is costs involved over and over. It's driving up the price for all of America. We've got to be doing something now. We can't wait.
And again, the folks back home get it. Congress isn't getting it. The Democratic-controlled Congress here has got to realize that the American people are saying we have got to conserve and we have got to drill. We have to make sure that we use the assets we have in this country to do it. And as my district points out, according to the National Manufacturers, we have about the ninth largest number of manufacturing jobs across the entire country. I have the number one agricultural district in the State of Ohio. I have transportation in my district. At one point you can almost be within 60 percent of the United States population in one day's hard drive.
So we have all these things going on. But we're not going to be producing food. We're not going to stay food-independent in this country if we don't do something about this right now. So the time to act is now, not later. When the President just the other day said that he was going to lift the ban on his end on offshore drilling, it is time for Congress to do the same. And I demand that we start working on that to make sure we get that done right now. Because you know what happened right off the bat, the world market said, do you know what? The Americans are serious. The Americans are saying we're going to go out there and drill. That price of oil is starting to go down. It's down about $9 from where it was. But that is because the world is thinking, hey, America might be getting serious about this.
We have all these energy resources out there. As has been pointed out, 10.3 billion barrels in ANWR. And again we're only talking about as the gentleman from Iowa stated, you are talking about a 2,000-acre out of a 19.5-million acre area, a very small footprint that would be confined. It would be an area that we can make sure we get that oil drilled. And we have to do it. We have to get that oil up. We have to get it moving.
The Outer Continental Shelf, we are talking about 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We are talking about 86 billion barrels of oil. What are we doing? Absolutely nothing. It's time to start acting and start acting now, because if we don't, it will be, well, if another year goes by, we can't do it because it will take that much more time. The time to act is absolutely right now. And we have to get it done.
America has so many resources at its disposal. But we're not using them. We've talked about oil. We've talked about natural gas. The other thing up here that has also been talked about a little earlier is oil shale. We are talking about 2.1 trillion barrels of oil in oil shale out West. And what are we doing? Nothing. Congress has to start lifting the restrictions so that America will be energy independent and get it done right now. Because if we don't do it, we can't be held hostage by dictators around the world and also by Middle Eastern oil. It's time to act right now.
And as we also talk about some other things that we have in this country that we want to make sure that we keep using, we have over 24 percent or 25 percent of the world's coal. And what are we doing in this country? Well, we don't like coal. Well, we have an abundance of coal. We can gasify it. We can liquefy it. And we can make sure it is done in a clean manner and start utilizing it. In Ohio we have what we call ``high sulfur'' coal. It is too expensive to use. Well, not only if we can use it in a clean system what we can do out there with that coal is in a clean system we can put more people to work that want to go out there and mine that coal. We have other people that can transport that coal. So we want to make sure that we have that coal out there for Americans to be using and using it today.
Another area is of course that we have talked a little bit about earlier, we talked about the alternatives, the supplementals. In my district alone, we can talk about several things. Out my back door we have the only four wind turbines in the State of Ohio. We can also use those wind turbines across the country. We can start utilizing them. But we also have other things in my district. We have solar power production. We have folks out there producing and working on getting a hydrogen engine. We have people out there working with ethanol, biodiesel.
So America has all these resources. We are a great country. We can get it done. And I just want to thank the gentlelady from Minnesota again for her leadership on this and for putting this hour on tonight. We have got to get this out to the American people. But it is one of those issues that the people back home are far ahead of us here in Congress. And it's time that the people here in Washington start listening to what the people back home say.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I thank the gentleman from the Buckeye State, Mr. Latta, for your words because you understand the answer, which the American people get. This is not terribly complicated. This is not difficult to figure out. America has made a big mistake. And it isn't the American people that have made a big mistake. It's the Members of Congress that made a big mistake when they made it illegal, and that's right, the United States Congress made it illegal to access the answer to our energy problem.
Mr. Latta has laid that case out very well. He has made the case. And he has made the case that we need to change the way we're doing business, and we need to make it legal. And instead of being one of the biggest importers of energy, we can be the biggest exporter. Because it's all about jobs.
And that is why I would like to hand out the baton now to my esteemed colleague from the State of Michigan, Representative Tim Walberg. Because in the State of
Michigan, Mr. Speaker, there is possibly no other State that compares in terms of the misery that they have dealt with with their recession and with the job losses. And I think probably no one can speak to this better than Representative Tim Walberg and also his esteemed colleague, Thaddeus McCotter.
And now I will yield to my friend, Representative Tim Walberg.
Mr. WALBERG. I thank the gentlelady from Minnesota for hosting this hour and leading us in it. And you're absolutely right. Michigan is hurting. People are angry. They are fearful. They're worried about things that they seem to feel they have no control over. And this is an issue that is number one on their mind. The bottom line is, they do not agree with the Democratic majority that says that their strategy right now on lowering gas prices is ``to drive small cars and wait for the wind.''
That very week that that statement was made, I was spending some time back in the district, and I had the opportunity to pump gas. I would walk up to a car in a gas station and say, hi, I'm Congressman Tim Walberg, and if you'll allow me to pump your gas for you, I would like to hear what you have to say about energy, your ideas, your comments, your concerns.
And the talking points came right from my playbook without even indicating to them where I was standing on the issue. The people of Michigan in my district that I talked to, one after another, these were just general random picks at the gas station, said, we need to drill now. We need to drill the Outer Continental Shelf. We need to drill ANWR. We need to use nuclear power. We need to conserve. We need to use biofuels. We need to use wind, solar energy. Across the board, they get it.
And so our agenda as Republicans has been, and I think it needs to continue to be until we get relief and get the answer, agree to, that is to hold a vote to increase the production of American-made energy before we go home for our break. It's the only thing that we ought to do. The people are asking for it. And the leadership, Mr. Speaker, needs, needs to let us have these votes that will allow it.
I talked to a lady at the gas station that I was pumping. And she first said, do you really want to hear my concern? I said absolutely. And she said, I work at the University of Michigan Hospital. I drive from Adrian, Michigan, to Ann Arbor. And I have had to choose now, and it has worked out with the hospital that I go only 2 days a week. I work two 8-hour shifts back to back each of those days so I don't have to drive as much and I can spend the time at home with my family. Then she turned and she said, my daughter here is 13 years old. She was in the car with her. She said, when I was 16 years of age and got my driver's license, on Friday nights generally I had a battle royal with my father arguing why I should be allowed to have the keys to the car to go out with my friends. And then her face saddened as she said to me, my daughter won't have that opportunity to argue with me, because when she asks for those keys, the only answer is, we don't have the fuel to do that. And she said that is a part of childhood, that is a part of the teenage years. That is just traditional. And we are giving that away, along with many other things we have talked about tonight.
So what are we going to do about it? Well, we don't just talk about it. There are at present bills in committee that would do all of the above that we have talked about. There are five discharge petitions on the floor of the House at this point in time, one that I have offered that would bring out of committee for a vote the No More Excuses Energy Act that simply says get it done, use anything that we can here in this country to be totally independent. That has not been agreed to yet. We have another discharge on expanding American refinery capacity using closed military installations. It makes all good sense to get on with refinery. The third one that is on the floor is to repeal the ban on acquiring alternative fuels like shale oil, tar sands and coal-to-liquid technology. It's amazing we won't bring that bill to the floor to vote on. The people want it.
A fourth that is on the floor is the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Act which makes all good sense because that also can be used in our fighter planes.
And a final one that came on this week was the Fuel Mandate Reduction Act of 2007 which says let's suspend the boutique fuels, the special blends that add additional costs when they come to the pump.
People in my district, which is the largest ag district in the State of Michigan, are frustrated with the costs that go into food and its production, and all of the above, and they are saying the time is now, not drive small cars and wait for the wind.
I know my good friend, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. McCotter) has a different district than I have, but I bet that your people are saying basically the same thing.
Mrs. BACHMANN. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. McCotter).
Mr. McCOTTER. We all have different constituencies, but I think you said something that I can't quite agree with, and that is that everybody seems to understand this problem and what the solutions are.
I had a friend. We used to play in a band back in Detroit Rock City, and my brother one time loaned him my guitar. So it dawned on me that before the statute of limitations expired, I better go get my guitar back.
So I went to see Bob. He was living in his parents' basement and he was enjoying some goat's milk and granola. I complimented him on his earth shoes and I said, ``Dude, I want my guitar back.''
He said, ``You can have it back because it doesn't make very much noise.''
I said, ``Bob, it's an electric guitar. You have to plug it in.'' Bob didn't like that because Bob believed he was getting electricity from the local nuclear plant and had to make a stand even at the expense of no one hearing his cacophony of terrible folk music.
He then said, ``You work in Congress, right?''
``Yes, I do.''
``So you go up to Lansing to do that?''
``No, Bob, I go up to Washington.''
He said, ``I have something to tell you people.''
I was fascinated, so I said, ``What do you have?''
He said, ``We have to get the rest of the world to like us, and we have to stop our reliance on foreign oil. And we have to make sure that we don't tear up America's natural resources trying to drill our way out of this problem.''
I looked at Bob and I said, ``Bob, I would rather have the world respect America, but be that as it may. You want people to like America, but you have just told them you are not going to buy their product because they are foreigners. This might be detrimental to your cause. And if you are talking about not producing American oil, where are you going to get the oil to compensate for that so as supply increases, prices can come down?''
He then said that he agreed with many Democrats that we should have OPEC produce more oil.
I then asked Bob if he understood that OPEC is composed of foreigners whose oil he no longer wanted to buy so we could break America's reliance on foreign oil. The dazed look on his face was akin to the one that he had probably around 1983 prom night shortly before his parents took away the car keys for quite some time.
The reality is we hear circular arguments about what needs to be done. Bob is not an exception. Every day here on the floor of the Congress we hear every excuse in the book as to why the American people will not be allowed to solve the gas price problem and the energy problem.
As Ronald Reagan once said: In this instance, government is not the solution, government is the problem.
If the government would just get out of the way, remove its regulations, litigation, taxation, and other obstacles to the production of American energy by entrepreneurs and allow free markets to work, the supply of oil will increase. It will be American oil. The price will start to stabilize as investors within the world markets realize that we are serious about attaining energy security. Gas prices will precipitously fall, and not only will the energy problem begin to be addressed by the very people who can do it best, the American people, you will also to start to see people understand that there is no other alternative than to face the reality that if you want energy security, you must concomitantly reduce the bureaucracy.
Again in a nutshell, if we want to help our little guys and gals, get big government out of their way, allow American energy production, allow for commonsense conservation, allow for free market innovations as we transition to energy security and independence. That is the best thing we can do for our constituents and for my friend Bob.
I yield back.
Mrs. BACHMANN. Mr. Speaker, I think it is important for the American people to understand, as incredulous as it sounds, the majority, which again is run by the Democrats, both in the House and in the Senate, have made a deliberate decision to do absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing to bring even one drop of oil or one new watt of electricity online for the American people.
I just read this morning in my clips in Minnesota that energy went out in the afternoon. It was so hot, the demand was so high our energy grid is getting overloaded and we haven't been building the new power plants and exploring for the new energy.
This is key, Mr. Speaker, for the American people to know. The Republicans in Congress have a plan. It is American energy, yes. The Democrats have said American energy, no. We want $2 a gallon gas. We can get there if we drill here, drill now, so the American people can pay less. It's entirely possible.
The Democrat plan has been drive less, pay more. It's not working real well, Mr. Speaker. People don't like that plan. They really would like to be able to pay $2 a gallon gas, especially when they know it is possible.
We are so grateful we can have this opportunity tonight, so grateful. But I tell you, the passion burns pretty deep in here because we know when we go home fairly soon for the August break, we have a lot of angry people on our hands at home, and they have every right to be angry. We are here calling on the Democrat Congress, pleading with the Democrat Congress, listen to the American people. Drill here, drill now so the American people can pay less.