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Energy Crisis

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate very much my good friend and colleague from Georgia yielding, and I appreciate his taking the time and leading the time tonight to continue to talk about what I consider and what my constituents in the 11th district of Georgia, Northwest Georgia, feel is the most important, the single most important issue facing our Nation and, for that matter, political issue as well as we move toward these November elections.

People in my district told me on Monday, just yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Bartow County, Cartersville, Georgia, a great part of my district--a town hall meeting, Mr. Speaker, as you know, they are not partisan. You don't just invite Democrats or Republicans. You invite your constituents. And we probably had 50 people there. And I don't know if it was an equal mix. I guess since I won my election last time with 71 percent of the vote, it probably wasn't an equal mix, but there were some very bright young Democratic folks there who probably in November won't vote for me. But we had a great discussion about this issue and just what Congressman Westmoreland is talking about in regard to the need to come up with a solution and not continue to play politics over this.

I have a couple of posters, if my colleagues will bear with me. I want you to take a test, one of these tests that I always loved taking in high school and college and even medical school, a multiple choice question. Sometimes you can guess. But I'm going to hold up this slide for my colleagues and ask them this question. And I appreciate my good friend from Illinois for helping me do this.

Question: How do we bring down the price of oil? A pretty simple, straightforward question. Well, it's multiple choice.

A, open up oil exploration in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf. ANWR, of course, the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. That would be one of the choices.

B, build new oil refineries. That might be a pretty good choice. We haven't made it in the last 25 years, unfortunately. All the oil refineries in the United States, unfortunately, are down along the gulf coast, and we know all too well how dangerous a situation that is, especially as we are coming into what could be a rather horrific hurricane season.

Maybe choice C, commercially develop renewable energy. Now, we are talking about wind and solar, two perfect examples of renewable energy. In this country our electricity grid, we generate about 1 to 2 percent of our power from those renewable sources. We can do better. I absolutely think we can do better when countries like Germany probably are producing 30 percent of their energy from renewables.

Well, maybe you would pick, let's see, D, if my colleagues could again refer to this slide, commission new nuclear power plants. I think since the mid 1970s, we have not commissioned a new nuclear power plant. I used to work in one as a co-op student in Barnwell, South Carolina, when I was attending Georgia Tech. Clean, efficient, safe, a great source of energy. Maybe when the price of gasoline was $1.50 a gallon, you might say, well, it's too expensive to start a nuclear power plant; but when it's $4.10 a gallon, I think it's time to consider strongly nuclear power. That could be a good choice as the perfect answer to this question, How do we bring down the price of oil? France, I believe, if I am not mistaken, and my colleagues can correct me if I'm wrong, I think, produces about 80 percent of their energy from nuclear power, as do some of the Scandinavian countries, and I have been there and I have visited.

Let's see. How about choice number E, promote conservation? I think a lot of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the American people would agree we ought to conserve. We are 300 million people, and a world population of 6 billion. If my math is correct, and I took six quarters of calculus at Georgia Tech, that is not 25 percent of the world population, but we are using 25 percent of the world production of fossil fuel. That is too much. And we need to bring it down, and we can do that. I think maybe that would be a good choice.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, choice number F. That says: All of the above. I won't keep you in suspense too much longer as we move to my second and last slide. The answer clearly is F, all of the above. We have got a few pictures here kind of pointing that out. Oil and natural gas off of the Outer Continental Shelf, including the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico, where we are prohibited from drilling, where there are literally trillions of barrels, trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and billions of barrels of oil when you add that eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of our country.

But the picture shows it all; nuclear power, wind and solar, drilling, of course, in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, which is a tiny portion, 2,000 acres out of 19 million, as depicted here in this corner of Alaska.

So this is basically, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate very much Mr. Westmoreland letting me develop this point of argument that people in my district clearly yesterday let me know that this is what they want. They want a balanced approach, and all of the above is what we need to do. That is exactly what Mr. Westmoreland has been saying, and my colleagues, repeatedly.

We are ready, Mr. Speaker, and I turn to my colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle, the majority, who has the ability, the power. They can control everything that comes to this floor. And it's time to worry less about monkey bites and more about the people of this country suffering.

I think Mr. Westmoreland earlier used the expression: Let my oil and gas flow. It made me think a little bit biblical. I don't want to get too biblical because I will get out of my lane in a hurry, Mr. Speaker. But it's like Moses said to Pharaoh: Let my people go. Moses wouldn't do it, he wouldn't do it. He promised time after time. He kept reneging, even though his own people were suffering tremendously. I don't know what he was betting on back there many thousands of years ago, but he was wrong. He finally did let the people go.

I don't know what game, Mr. Speaker, the Democratic majority is playing. I don't understand it. If they look at the polls, if that is the way they are making their decisions on legislation, people, Democrats, Republicans, independents by a wide majority want a solution. They want a comprehensive approach. We are ready. We are reaching out. We are literally begging. That is why we are here tonight, saying to our colleagues on both sides of the aisles, Let's get this done. Let's get it done ASAP, and that means as soon as possible, before we leave this town at the end of July and walk away from here for a month's break. Shame on us if we don't get this done.

I yield back to my colleague.


Mr. SHIMKUS. One of the reasons why we are not in the Outer Continental Shelf is an oil spill I think that happened in 1969. I was 11 years old. I have changed a lot, maybe some good, maybe some bad. I was 11 years old. That is 39 years ago. Technology has improved greatly. Katrina is a perfect example. When Katrina came up the Western Gulf, tell me the major environmental disaster that occurred on the deep drilling, 5 miles deep, because of that massive hurricane? The answer is none.

Mr. GINGREY. If the gentleman will yield on that point, I think the gentleman was referring to the Exxon Valdez tanker.

Mr. SHIMKUS. No. No.

Mr. GINGREY. Well, that situation I think needs to be answered. A lot of people say, well, we don't want to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf, the coast of California, because we may contaminate the San Francisco Bay. As the gentleman from Illinois pointed out, and I will yield back quickly, even during the hurricanes, when these oil rigs were blown over, not one drop of oil was spilled. But this tanker that was coming from the Middle East with hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum, it cracks up and that is where you get the spills.

That is why I would say to the environmentalists, help us solve that problem, so we don't have to import all this raw petroleum from other countries.


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