ENERGY -- (House of Representatives - July 15, 2008)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I appreciate the gentleman yielding to me, and also appreciate the gentleman for heading up this special order tonight to once again point a finger and a focus on the importance of the discussion of energy. And more important than that, to actually move some legislation through this House before we go into a recess during the August break.
I will be brief because other colleagues would like to speak.
I come, as I said, from the State of New Jersey. This past week I had an opportunity to be on some forums with some of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle where this was an issue that was discussed. One of the points that I made, coming from the State of New Jersey, is just how important it really is that Congress do something with regard to energy and the high price of energy production and supply in this country.
Let me give you a few statistics from an independent source describing the State of New Jersey and our costs of energy. New Jersey consumes 3.4 percent of the Nation's energy. That is 13 percent greater than what the State's share should be based on the State's share of the Nation's population and employment. And that is possibly because New Jersey is one of the most densely populated States. It has been a manufacturing State and otherwise, and for that reason we do draw a high amount of energy for our State.
Currently the State of New Jersey spends nearly $130 million annually on energy for its various State facilities alone, not talking about private and everything else out there.
Furthermore, an economic survey points out that New Jersey business owners reported that many are concerned, and this is obvious, over rising energy prices. Forty percent of business owners state that over the next 6 months, higher energy costs will have the greatest impact on their business, up sharply from around 20 percent last fall. And because of the higher cost of energy, 43 percent of New Jersey business owners plan to pass along that portion of the cost in the form of higher selling prices to their customers, up from around 30 percent last fall.
So that means on top of the fact that we in New Jersey are paying more at the pump, and on top of the fact that home heating costs will go up dramatically in the area of fuel oil. As a matter of fact, the statistics on that are that New Jersey relies more heavily on petroleum and natural gas for home heating, with 86 percent of single-family homes heated by natural gas and oil compared to the national average of 68 percent.
I raise that point to point out that in my little forums that I was on with other Members from the other side of the aisle, they said, look, we really can't drill our way out of this. Petroleum is not the solution. Natural gas is not the solution. Conservation and alternative fuels are the solution. Well, I half agree with them. I half agree with them because yes, conservation is certainly one of the solutions; and alternative fuels is certainly the other solution. But it is really a three-legged stool as opposed to a two-legged stool, and that third leg of the stool is additional production of energy here at home in America.
Why this is a controversial topic in the State of New Jersey is because we are a coastal State. I enjoy the New Jersey shore as much as the next guy from New Jersey; and hopefully I will have some time to enjoy the Jersey shore sometime during this August break. But while you sit on the Jersey shore, and this is something that the gentleman from the other side of the aisle whose name shall remain nameless at this point, was factually incorrect about.
As you sit on the Jersey shore, if we are successful as Republicans in this House, and that is to pass legislation as the President has just lifted his executive order just 48 hours ago to allow for drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, which means deep-sea exploration, and I always say offshore is a misnomer
because offshore means you are sitting on the shore and actually seeing it. And that is what my colleague on the other side of the aisle said. He said if we build these rigs, you will be sitting on the shore enjoying your pretzel and your soda and seeing them. That is factually incorrect.
Every piece of legislation that I have supported, and I know the gentleman from Georgia has also supported, has said that we will be doing deep sea exploration, using 21st century technology in the most prudent and environmentally sensitive manner as you can possibly do, and they will be, at the minimum 50 miles, and a maximum up to 200 miles offshore. We all know that if you sit on the Jersey shore, you can't see any further than 20 miles out to sea because of the curvature of the earth. The bottom line is whatever we pass here, it will not be seeable from the Jersey shore. It will not have that detrimental effect on the shore nor on one of our biggest industries, which is tourism in the State of New Jersey.
So I am proud to be one of the few Members of this House from the New Jersey delegation to say that we must do everything possible to bring down the cost of energy for our small businesses, our industry, and our homeowners, for the price of gas in the summer and home heating fuel in the winter, and we must do that by conservation, alternative fuels, and more production of American energy here at home as well.
Mr. WESTMORELAND. I thank my friend from New Jersey, and he is the only member of the New Jersey delegation who has signed a petition that says ``I want to lower gas prices for Americans.''
It is now my honor to let my colleague from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey, have some time.
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