This week, the House will consider comprehensive energy legislation aimed at lowering energy prices and expanding domestic and renewable energy sources.
The "Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act" would ends subsidies to oil companies, promote good jobs here in America and require oil companies to pay what is owed to American taxpayers.
This legislative package would help move America along the path toward energy independence through greater efficiency and conservation, and it would protect consumers through with strong actions that would lower prices at the pump.
In order to help lower gas prices immediately, the bill would require temporarily releasing about 10 percent of the oil from the government's stockpile, known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and later replacing it with heavier, cheaper crude oil.
History shows that this is only proven way to reduce oil prices in the short term. In 1991, former President Bush released oil from the SPR and oil prices dropped by over 33% in just one day - the largest one-day price drop ever. Releasing SPR oil also pushed down oil prices in 2000 and again in 2005.
The bill also provides major investments in developing alternative energies, which would, in turn, spur the creation of jobs and reduce America's dependence on oil. Specifically, the bill would extend tax credits for the development of power derived from fuel cells, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, water and landfills.
The legislation also incorporates a "Use It or Lose It" approach when it comes to gas and oil companies' leases on public lands, and mandates annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) to speed development and oil production.
Other provisions include banning the export of Alaskan oil outside the U.S., calling on the Bush Administration to facilitate completion of the NPR-A oil pipeline and construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, which could create up to 100,000 jobs.
I have some concerns about the expanding natural gas and oil drilling all along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), including the waters off North Carolina's shore. Under this plan, states could opt to permit drilling 50 to 100 miles offshore. The remaining OCS beyond 100 miles offshore would be open to oil and gas leasing.
We have seen tremendous economic growth by North Carolina's coastal communities and it imperative that we protect this vital component of our region's economy and character. I also have deep concerns that the bill fails to include any drilling revenue-sharing for states.
Another provision includes requiring service stations owned by major integrated oil companies to install at least one "alternative fuel pump" - such as natural gas or E-85. The bill also includes funding to expand public transportation and reduce transit fares, and would close a tax loophole that allows big oil and gas companies operating overseas to game the system by understating their foreign oil and gas extraction income.
This bill will continue the efforts to lower energy prices and increase America's energy independence. Last year, Congress passed and the President signed historic energy legislation with provisions to combat oil market manipulation, increase vehicle fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon in 2020 - the first Congressional increase in more than three decades - and promote the use of more affordable American biofuels.