ENERGY -- (House of Representatives - September 08, 2008)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I thank you.
We're going to spend our hour tonight on behalf of the minority party talking about energy, once again. This is the most pressing concern, I think, of our Nation right now in these tough economic times.
But before I get started, I want to join with my colleagues, my Democratic colleagues, and pay tribute, Mr. Speaker, to STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES, the gentlewoman from Ohio. I guess you can say that everything's been said that needs to be said, but not everybody has had an opportunity to say it. I can't improve upon the kind words that we've heard here over the last hour in regard to her life and what a great person she was.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention one thing that I thought about a lot after hearing of her untimely and sad passing. She is the second member, Mr. Speaker, of the Ohio delegation to die in office during this 110th Congress. The first was a member on our side of the aisle--again, very loved and respected--Paul Gillmor. Just like Ms. JONES, like Representative Jones, as bipartisan whenever he could be, as she was.
And I went to his funeral in Columbus, Ohio, the great capital of Ohio. And the eulogies that were offered on behalf of Representative Gillmor, the very first one, Mr. Speaker, was offered by Representative STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES. And it was very touching, very loving. You know, it's a sad thing, of course, her passing. But God has His plan, and we have our plans, but His plan takes precedent over everything we do.
But she was a great Member of this body, and I join my colleagues in expressing my sincere sympathy to the family.
Mr. Speaker, we are here finally back in session after a long 5-week absence, the so-called August recess. And, Mr. Speaker, I think you and all of my colleagues know that many Republican Members--we asked our Democratic colleagues to join us on this floor during the recess--in fact I think some 134 Republican Members--that's not 100 percent on our side, but it's getting darn close to 80, 85 percent--Members came back, some several days, took a break away from their families, from their constituents in this traditional August recess to come back here and say, you know, we really should not be at home. We should not be in our districts no matter how important the work there is. It's very important. Certainly, there is some politicking going on during election season.
But I think, Mr. Speaker, most of my constituents told me, and I'm sure every Member of this body, that you need to get back up there and do the people's work. We're suffering, we're struggling with these high gas prices; our kids are going to be going back to school in a couple of weeks and the school bus is probably not going to be running, and it's a safety issue. And some school districts across the country are talking about cutting back to a 4-day school week. It's one thing for a 4-day work week, but a 4-day school week for our youngsters .....
So we were talking about that every day. Every day we had anywhere from 5 to 15 Republican Members in this Chamber.
Now, the lights were dim, the air-conditioning was either too cold or it was too hot, the C-SPAN cameras were not running. These microphones--I'm hoarse today Mr. Speaker, because of straining my voice during that time. But it was an absolute wonderful experience.
All of the people that were visiting the Nation's Capitol, their Capitol, the people's House, during that time, during those 5 weeks, we asked them if they wanted to come and have a unique opportunity to sit in our seats right here in this Chamber. Rarely do they get the chance to do that. It's not like sitting in the gallery. To actually come down and sit in the seats where the Members sit and debate and vote.
And this Chamber was virtually full many of those days, a lot of times three-fourths full, half full. But untold numbers of American citizens had an opportunity. And they were not just Republicans, Mr. Speaker. They were Democrats, they were independents, they were voters. They were people that enjoyed listening to this discussion about the crisis that we're in and what, at least on our side of the aisle, we felt need to be done.
We talked at length about the American Energy Act, the bill that was introduced by minority leader JOHN BOEHNER of the great State of Ohio. Leader BOEHNER introduced the American Energy Act probably 2 1/2 months ago, in fact. And it languished wherever it went to, probably the Energy and Commerce Committee, and never saw the light of day. And that bill, Mr. Speaker, is the all-of-the-above Energy Act. Yes, the cornerstone of the bill is to drill, to drill here in the United States or off of its Outer Continental Shelf, to drill now so that we lower these gas prices and get some relief to the great people of this country who are struggling so much right now economically. And yet the bill never had an opportunity to see the light of day.
I have got a number of posters, Mr. Speaker, that I want to refer to, and I'm going to put that on the easel here for a minute so my colleagues can join with me in understanding some of the issues.
Well, the first poster says, ``Nancy Pelosi, we're here and where are you?'' Well guess what, my colleagues. She's back. She's back. But it took 5 weeks to get her back, and during the time that we were begging her to come back and call this Congress into a special session, she had the power to do that.
Madam Speaker was out, among other things, promoting her new book, ``Know Your Power.'' I'm sure Madam Speaker was referring to the power of a woman, and I think that's a good thing. I have three daughters and four grand-daughters, and I hope one day that they will have an opportunity to achieve what Madam Speaker's achieved. They obviously won't be the first female Speaker in the history of this country because she has that title now, but know her power, the power to convene the Congress and pass legislation. She, and only she, could do that, and yet she refused to come back even for a few days, even maybe for a week. She would still, as would the rest of us, have 4 weeks to work in our districts or go on vacation or whatever during that August recess.
The ironic thing, Mr. Speaker, about this is Ms. Pelosi said in the elections of 2006--gee, it's been almost 2 years ago when the Democratic Party was the minority party. She said that, you know, this do-nothing Congress, these do-nothing Republicans, we need to replace them, and among other things, of course, she said that bills should generally come to the floor under a procedure that allows open, full and fair debate, consisting of a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives, including a substitute. Now, that is a direct quote by Speaker Pelosi back in 2006.
Well, she has already pretty much said that any energy bill, Mr. Speaker, that comes to the floor is going to be basically with a closed rule. We, in the minority, are not going to have an opportunity to amend, and it's not going to look anything like the American Energy Act, the All-of-the-Above Act, which allows not just drilling here, drilling now, but it includes so many other things that we'll speak about during this hour.
But before I go on, I wanted to take the opportunity--two of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and I hope maybe some others will join us later in the hour, but the first colleague is the gentleman from Florida, and he should know a lot, a lot indeed, about the Outer Continental Shelf and what is being done and what's not being done. I yield at this time to my colleague from Florida, the honorable RIC KELLER.
Mr. KELLER of Florida. I thank the gentleman from Georgia for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I have just returned from a 4-day trip to Alaska. I went there on a fact-finding trip to learn more about what is becoming one of the central issues of our time, and that is, whether or not we should drill in the portion of Alaska known as ANWR, particularly the section called 10-02.
Before venturing off on this trip, I listened to folks on both sides. Those who were for the drilling said that there's a large amount of oil there, that exploration can take place in an environmentally friendly way, and that the Alaskan people themselves want it.
Those who were against drilling there said there's only a trivial amount of oil there, this will hurt the pristine wilderness, and it will endanger wildlife, particularly caribou and polar bears.
Well, after spending 4 days on a fact-finding mission, I'm prepared to relay to you what I saw in response to these three key issues. First, what is the amount of oil there? Second, will it hurt the pristine wilderness? And third, will it hurt the wildlife?
I can tell you from my trip to ANWR and the Northern Slope and talking with experts in and out of the government that there is approximately 10.4 billion barrels of oil in ANWR, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey. How much is 10.4 billion barrels of oil? It is enough oil to provide all of my home State of Florida's needs for 29 years. 10.4 billion barrels of oil is enough to provide 1 million barrels a day every day for the next 30 years. It is the single largest source of untapped oil of any location in the entire United States.
If I can show you a chart, Mr. Speaker, to give you an analogy of why we have some comfort that that's true, you see this is the State of Alaska, ANWR in the upper left. It's about the size of South Carolina, about 19 million acres. Drilling would be limited to a real tiny area up here--this is called the 10-02 ANWR coastal plain area--to a section of only 2,000 acres, just about the size of the red dot here. So literally 99.99 percent of ANWR would not have drilling, and I told you there's roughly 10.4 billion barrels in this 2,000-acre area.
Next door to it you will see a sign says Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. This is the single largest oil field in the United States. It has 15 billion barrels of oil. They have already extracted 12 billion, and there are 3 billion remaining. Now, when you go up there like I did and you compare the two areas, they look roughly the same.
Why is there drilling at Prudhoe Bay and not in ANWR? It's simple. This area is owned by the State of Alaska. They want the drilling and they allow it. This area is owned by the Federal Government. It has not yet been allowed.
What's significant also is you see a line here, it says TAPS. That's the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. What's so key about extracting this large quantity of oil is you have an 800-mile pipeline that takes the oil all the way down to the southern tip of Alaska to a city called Valdez. There it is picked up by tankers and taken to refineries in the lower 48 States and from the refineries turned into gasoline and shipped to your local retail gasoline dealer where you purchase the gasoline.
So we have a huge amount of oil. We have a pipeline infrastructure ready to move it. The only question is whether we will.
That brings us to the next issue. Will it hurt the wilderness? As I already said, 99.99 percent of the wilderness will be off limits, if you call it wilderness.
But I happened to go to all of these areas, but this little town right here, Kaktovik, is the only village in ANWR, and I stood there at the edge of Kaktovik looking through this 10-02 coastal plain area with the leader from that small Eskimo tribe, a man named Felton Rexford.
I looked out and I'll show you what I saw. I saw a flat, frozen, barren tundra. As the camera looks at that picture, folks may look at it and say, well, what am I looking at? I don't see any trees. I can't see any wilderness. That's exactly what I saw as I stood there, and I said to the elected leader from the Eskimo tribe: Where are the trees in the area that we're talking about drilling? And he said, Congressman, there's not a tree within 100 miles. Not a tree within 100 miles.
So much for the beautiful wilderness that we hear about in so many of the photos that are seen. I can tell you those photos aren't the area that we're talking about drilling.
Well, the next issue becomes: What about the wildlife? We don't want to hurt the caribou and the polar bears that live in Alaska. I saw both on my trip to Alaska. Alaska has 800,000 caribou, the most numerous large animals anywhere in Alaska, and 5,000 polar bears. I can tell you, in the last three decades, every single year the population of polar bears has increased. Every single year the population of caribou has increased.
In fact, I mentioned to you that the biggest oil field is called Prudhoe Bay next to the ANWR area, and I toured Prudhoe Bay. And as I toured there--here we are--I saw some caribou right there among the oil fields. And I talked to the wildlife experts who were with us. I said, Is that unusual? They said, Not at all. Back in the 1970s when oil was discovered here in Prudhoe Bay and they started drilling, there were 3,000 caribou in that area. Today, there are over 30,000. The caribou population has increased tenfold.
And so to wrap up, Mr. Speaker, what I learned in summary is that there is a significant amount of oil there, 10.4 billion barrels. I learned that the Alaskans want it: 70 percent of the Alaskans statewide, 90 percent of those who live in the ANWR area. I learned that we can do this without having any harm to the wilderness or to the wildlife and that we can have it all done with responsible, environmentally friendly drilling that reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
I have great respect for all four of the individuals running for President on the national tickets, Republicans and Democrats, but having been to Alaska and spent 4 days with the world leading experts on this issue, I can tell you that in my humble opinion Governor Sarah Palin knows more about this issue than all three men combined. I'm excited with the energy she brings to this debate and the knowledge she has about drilling because she knows these issues cold. And I hope in this Presidential election, whether you're a Republican or Democrat, listen to what this lady says because she's been saying what I learned over the past 4 days. There's very few of us that get to see it in person.
So, with that, let me thank the gentleman from Georgia so much for yielding his time to me.
Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the gentleman from Florida being with us tonight, and I thank him for that very intelligent discussion of ANWR and some of the statistics that he presented to us.
Mr. Speaker, the 1.5 million barrels a day that Representative Keller was talking about is not an insignificant amount of oil, and if you add that to 2.5 million barrels a day that we could be getting from the Outer Continental Shelf and another 2.5 million barrels a day that we could be extracting from the shale out in the Midwest, those five Rocky Mountain States, you would have a doubling of the amount of domestic production of oil. We would go from 7 million barrels a day to about 14 million barrels a day, and of course, you know, right now we're importing 60 percent of what we use. So his discussion is very pertinent and very timely.
Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I was talking about what our current Speaker, Ms. Pelosi, some of the quotes that she made back in 2006, and I want to share in this poster a few more with you. She said then, This leadership team will create the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history. Now, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that November 16, 2006.
This is now, a recent quote. When we asked for an opportunity to have regular order on an energy bill coming through the Energy and Commerce Committee, a bill that was marked up by both Democrats and Republicans, majority and minority, and that would go through the amendment process and that maybe even some amendments submitted to the Rules Committee would be made in order so that we could have a fair and open discussion, when she was questioned about that, when reference to a quote back in 2006, Ms. Pelosi said, and this is a quote, I'm not giving the gavel to them. They will have to use their imagination as to how they can get a vote. Speaker Pelosi said that on August 3, 2008. I guess kind of like she's using her imagination to lower energy prices.
And I think my next colleague who is going to speak will talk a little bit about the imagination and what her plan happens to be, but I'll show a couple of more slides before I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx) who has been such a strong advocate on this issue.
This is another quote from Ms. Pelosi. This call for drilling in areas that are protected--in other words, the Outer Continental Shelf and ANWR that the gentleman from Florida was just talking about--this call for drilling in areas that are protected is a hoax. It is an absolute hoax on the part of the Republicans and this administration.
Another quote from Speaker Pelosi, If you don't agree with that, my colleagues, just call (202) 224-3121 and voice your concern about a quote like that.
But listen to this. Look at this quote that Ms. Pelosi, our distinguished Speaker, gave on one of the national news networks a week or so ago when she was asked: ``Why not drill? Why not open up these areas?'' After all, the United States owns this source of fossil fuel, both natural gas and petroleum. Her quote then was: ``I'm trying to save the planet.'' I think she actually banged the table and repeated it. ``I'm trying to save the planet.''
Well, so is this guy Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. His quote was: ``We're better off without cheap oil. We're better off without cheap gas.''
So what they want to do is save the planet, but I fear, Mr. Speaker, that in the process they'll be destroying this country.
With that, I am going to yield to my distinguished colleague from North Carolina, a champion who has been back on this floor for most of the August recess, not just for a day or two. In fact, she led the Republicans on several occasions, and she does such a great job. At this time, I'm honored to yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina, VIRGINIA FOXX.
Ms. FOXX. Well, thank you, Mr. Gingrey. Thank you, Congressman Gingrey, for your leadership on this hour tonight as well as for your help earlier this year in August for what we were doing in calling to the attention of the American people those who are creating this problem with the high gas prices. I want to add some comments to my colleague from Florida's comments about drilling in ANWR.
I had the great opportunity to go to Alaska in 2005. I'd been there once before just purely as a tourist, but I went as a Member of Congress in 2005. I also saw Prudhoe Bay. I also saw Valdez. I also flew over ANWR. I want to add my comments and support to the things that he has said.
When the ANWR was set aside, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--I think it was in the early 70s--it was specific in the bill that some of that land would be set aside for oil drilling because people knew then that there was oil there and that it should be drilled for, but since that time, the Democrats have time and time and time again stopped us from drilling there. A bill passed in 1995--it passed both Houses--to allow drilling in ANWR, and President Clinton vetoed it. Since then, many, many times we have brought up votes, and the Democrats have consistently voted against drilling there.
He is absolutely right. The ANWR area is nothing but a frozen desert. Where we would be drilling is a frozen desert. It looks gray like that picture he showed. We saw it from the air. It looks exactly like that. It is akin to the deserts of Saudi Arabia, but it happens to be a frozen desert.
You know, the Lord gave us all of the resources, I believe, in this world that we need, but they just don't always look like they're the resources that we need, and sometimes they're tied up in unusual places, but the way I've described it to my colleagues and to my constituents is the way that I have heard it described as to the area that we would drill in ANWR, the 2000 acres: A postage stamp is to a football field as those 2000 acres are to the State of Alaska. It's a minuscule part of the State of Alaska, and it would do no harm.
Also, there is one thing that my colleague Mr. Keller didn't mention. He did show a wonderful map of how close the pipeline is now to that area. We're told that, in 18 months, we could have oil flowing from ANWR into the Alaska pipeline. In fact, it's going to be necessary to keep oil flowing into that pipeline or the pipeline is going to have to be shut down. So the Democrats continue to say it's going to take 10 years. It will only take 10 years if they and their trial lawyer friends and their radical environmentalist friends continue to bring lawsuits. What takes so long for us to create the energy that we need in this country are the lawsuits that keep getting filed. We could do this. We could be getting gas from the Outer Continental Shelf, I understand, in 3 years if we don't have to continually fight lawsuits to get this energy.
During the period of time when we were debating this in August--when the cameras were turned off, when the lights were turned off, when the mikes were turned off--I said that we have a choice to make here in the Congress. We are either going to be pro-American energy or anti-American energy. The Republicans in this Congress are pro-American energy. There is no reason why this country cannot be completely energy independent. Now, today, we've emphasized drilling.
By the way, let me make one other comment about the drilling in Alaska that nobody has made. I saw this again when I was there. You know, when you see the pictures of ANWR again, you see caribou grazing in a meadow with daisies blooming. That's, again, not the area that we would be drilling in. There are no caribou. There are living things there, I'm sure, in that frozen wasteland but not anything that you can see.
The other things that you see are these oil rigs like you see in Texas, these things that go up and down, and they're not very attractive armaments or implements, but when we saw the oil wells in Alaska, for the life of me, you couldn't have known that those were oil wells. They are simple boxes, maybe a little bit taller than I am, and they have valves on them. They look sort of like oxygen tanks with some valves on them, but they're not unattractive at all. They're in little boxes that sort of look like cabanas. We saw a whole row of about, I'd say, 100 or 150 of them. You would have no idea. They might be refrigerators for all one knows, but they're not unattractive at all.
Again, the radical environmentalists want us to think that we're going to be assaulted visually and that the environment is going to be assaulted by our drilling in ANWR. They want us to do nothing. I think the comment by the gentleman from the Sierra Club is very typical of what they feel. They don't want us to have cheap gas because they don't want us to use the good resources that the Lord gave us.
Mr. GINGREY. Would the gentlelady yield for just one comment on that before you continue?
Ms. FOXX. Sure.
Mr. GINGREY. Representative Foxx, you requoted what the gentleman from the Sierra Club said. Again, he said, ``We're better off without cheap gas.''
Also, I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the leader of the Senate, the Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, said fossil fuel is poison, that fossil fuel is poison and that we need to completely rid ourselves of that by, I think, the year 2012. So I just wanted to point that out.
I yield back to the gentlewoman.
Ms. FOXX. Well, I thank my colleague from Georgia for mentioning that because I wanted to also mention that Republicans have consistently said we're for all of the above. We're not just for drilling in ANWR, just for drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. We want all of the alternatives. We want to be energy independent. We certainly believe in advancing solar, wind, hydro, and whatever other sources there are out there. Most of us believe that, in a short period of time, we'll be completely independent of many fossil fuels. We have coal that we could be using, clean-burning coal. We're the Saudi Arabia of coal.
The interesting thing about the fact that the Democrats don't want us to drill is that they say they want alternatives, but they don't fund alternatives. Our bill that would allow for drilling would take the money that the Federal Government would get from those leases, and it would use that money to develop alternatives. While they've authorized programs for alternatives, they haven't funded them. So they're being very disingenuous when they say they want alternatives, because they are not allowing us to have alternatives because they're not funding them. It's a program that, I think, deserves the emperor's new clothes' award.
Mr. GINGREY. In reclaiming my time just for a second before yielding back to the gentlewoman from North Carolina, what she is talking about, Mr. Speaker, is an energy trust fund that could be, as she pointed out, obtained from royalties that the Federal Government gets from the oil companies--Big Oil, the Democrats use that pejorative constantly--but they would have to pay significant royalties to the Federal Government, which, as Ms. Foxx pointed out, would be put in a trust fund to have grants for research and development for alternative sources such as wind and solar and other things.
I'll continue to yield to the gentlewoman.
Ms. FOXX. Well, again, I appreciate that help with what I was saying because it reminds me of another point that I want to make, and that is, by not allowing this new exploration, we are ensuring that Big Oil will stay in control of the issues. When new areas are opened up, it opens up the opportunities for smaller oil companies and for new entrepreneurs to get involved in the business.
So the best thing that could happen to the ``big oil companies,'' those people who the Democrats demonize constantly, is for us not to open up new areas for drilling, because they have such a lock on the existing areas, and so they are helping, unwittingly perhaps, the existing oil companies to stay big by decreasing the competition for them.
Now let's talk a little bit about what is the Democrats' plan. They say no, no, no, no, no to all of the things which we have proposed which we believe the American people want. We know that from the surveys. Our hope in coming back here for this session is that the American people will have put a lot of pressure on our Democratic colleagues in saying to them: ``You must tell the Speaker that she needs to bring up a bill for a vote, and that's all we're asking for. We want a clean up or down vote.''
Now, I had said this many of the times that I was here during August. One day in July, before we went on recess and when the Republicans were talking about this--we'd been talking about this all of this year that we needed to do something to increase the supply and bring down the price of gasoline--somebody asked one of Speaker Pelosi's aides: ``Well, what is your plan for bringing down the price of gasoline?'' The answer was: ``Drive small cars and wait for the wind.''
Well, this is how somebody has characterized this. This is the Democrats' energy plan: drive small cars and wait for the wind. Well, most people in this country can't trade their big cars for small cars. They need their big cars. They have families, and they need to transport them or they have so much invested in those cars already, and they're not wealthy people like our Speaker is. They are people who are working hard for a living, and they can't do that.
Well, I have likened this to when the French people told the Queen of France that the people had no bread. She said, ``Let them eat cake.'' Well, that's, I think, what the Democrats are saying to the American people. Let them eat cake. Whereas, the Republicans are saying we have alternatives. Let's vote on those alternatives. Yes, I think this deals with some of the quotes that Mr. Gingrey was talking about, that Congressman Gingrey from Georgia was talking about a few minutes ago.
We did get promises. In fact, the Speaker promised in 2006 that the Democrats had a commonsense plan for bringing down the price of gasoline. That was when the price of gasoline was around $2. Now it's almost $4. They've done nothing about it. This is what one of their Members said: ``We sort of stretched the truth, and people ate it up.'' This was stated by Representative Paul Kanjorski, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, on the Democrats' campaign promises. They made those promises.
Now, what have Republicans done? Thirty-five times the Democrats have voted down Rules Committee Republican-offered solutions to lower your gas prices and to address America's urgent energy needs. The Speaker said we'll have to use our imagination for ways that we can get a vote. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have used every opportunity presented to us in this Congress to force a vote on providing American-made energy.
And every time the Democrats have stifled that.
We're not asking for a lot. We are asking for an up-or-down vote. Now, we have it broken down. We are not asking you to take our word for it. We have it broken down. Eleven times they voted ``no'' to consider amendments that would lower the average price of regular unleaded gasoline; four times to lower the price of gasoline and diesel by increasing our domestic fuel supply; six times they voted ``no'' to address alternative fuels; and fourteen times to address additional energy solutions provided by the American Energy Act, No More Excuses Energy Act, Coal-Liquid Fuel Act, Deep Ocean Resources Energy Act, Boutique Fuel Reduction Act, and the American Energy Independence and Price Reduction Act.
Republicans continue to try, and we are going to continue to bring up these issues every day that the Congress is in session and when we go out of session. But we do need the American people to help on this. We're going to bring it up. But if you live in the district of a Democrat who has not yet said he or she will vote ``yes'' for additional energy, then you need to be calling the House of Representatives and you need to be calling the Speaker's office to let them know. But it's better to call your Member of Congress and ask that Member to tell them.
Now, here's the other energy plan presented by their nominee for President. Our nominee for President, Senator McCain, has said he wants to increase American-made energy. Senator Obama's plan is check your tires and get them inflated properly and that's the solution to the American energy needs. That's just not going to cut it, Senator Obama. I'm sorry. We have got to increase supply.
Americans have been doing a wonderful job of conserving. And, again, I want to make it very clear Republicans believe in all of the above. We support conservation, but we support alternatives such as solar, wind, hydro, every other alternative that there is out there. We are willing to do that. But we know we cannot do this without increasing supply. And I simply think that we need to ask the Democrats are you pro-American energy or are you anti-American energy? If you're not interested in increasing the supply that we have within our borders, then you're anti-American energy. That is being anti-American people because it's the average working person, the retired people, young people who are being hurt by the high price of gasoline. And I think that that approach is the approach of people who are totally out of touch with the real world, and I am very disappointed in that.
I am going to yield back to my colleague now, Mr. Gingrey, from the great State of Georgia.
Mr. GINGREY. I want to thank again the gentlewoman from North Carolina, who did a wonderful job, I think, of explaining what has not been going on in this body.
And I think it's important for the American people to understand something. When the Democratic minority back in the 2006 election cycle, Mr. Speaker, when they were campaigning--this is campaign season now; so 2 years ago they were in the minority and talked about the ``do-nothing,'' ``do-nothing'' Republican majority and made statements such as, well, they are only here 3 days a week, only here in Washington doing the people's business, passing laws that need to be passed, these Republicans, these ``lazy'' Republicans was the characterization, Mr. Speaker, of the then Republican majority. They are only up here 3 days a week, not doing anything, not doing the people's work, and when we get the majority, we promise to do the people's work. And indeed, Mr. Speaker, you weren't here at that particular time, but the statement was we will go to a 5-day work week like everybody else across America, and, indeed, some people work 6 and 7 days a week and they have two jobs, not one. So this idea of coming and doing the people's work, that sounded good to me. I liked that.
Now, keep in mind what has happened since the Democrats have gained the majority. The people gave them that confidence, gave them that trust and said okay, that sounds good to us, and they gained the majority. Well, what have they done? Well, let me just say that we are now back in session here in September, the second week in September. And we are going to be here, including today, and this day is almost gone, it's 10:30 at night--Mr. Speaker, we are going to be here 15 days. Now, we are going to be here 15 days. Maybe it will turn out to be 12 or 10. But the Democratic majority says that we are going to be 15 days, 5 days this week, 5 days next week, and 5 days the following week. Ladies and gentlemen, that's 15 days out of 5 months.
Remember now, the whole month of August and the first week in September, we were on recess, and the Democratic majority, Mr. Speaker, has already emphatically said that we want our Members to go home and be in their districts and campaign for re-election or whatever and we are not coming back until the next Congress, until the 111th Congress in January after the new President is inaugurated. I mean it's just unbelievable.
Now think about it. Mr. Speaker, if the American public were watching our proceedings tonight and they heard what I'm saying to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, 15 days in 5 months, that's deplorable. If that's what we are going to do, if that's what we have resorted to in this Congress, then this ought to be a part-time job. This shouldn't be a full-time job. That's fine with me. If you want to make it a part-time job, I will go back home and start delivering babies again 6 months out of the year.
But let me just use a word that I think most of my colleagues understand: This is the height of mendacity. This is the height of hypocrisy to make that kind of promise and then not deliver to the American people. Ms. Foxx talked about it, Representative Foxx, Representative Keller.
And Representative Keller is still with us, and I would be happy to yield to him for further thoughts or comments that he may have on this issue. We only have about 10 minutes left, but let me yield back to my friend from Florida.
Mr. KELLER of Florida. I thank my friend for yielding. I would just take a couple minutes.
Mr. Speaker, you may be surprised to learn, as I was when I went there, that there is not a tree within 100 miles of where we are drilling and that the animals peacefully co-exist and, in fact, have done well. You may wonder why am I hearing this for the first time? Let me explain something to you.
This is the only village in all of ANWR, called Kaktovik. And when I sat there with the leader of the village, Mr. Felton Rexford, who lived there his whole life, and I would say he's in his mid- to late 60s, he was so kind to me. And as I sit there in 30 degree weather in the hottest month, in the middle of August, he told me I was one of the few people that ever bothered to visit there, that they were surprised. Hardly anyone has ever been there. It's 30 degrees in the hottest month. It's 30 below in the winter. They just got running water there in the year 2000. Only 300 Eskimos live there. They have a doctor that visits their town one time a year. There are no roads in and out of the village. They have to travel by snowmobile, and they live off of whales. So when you hear about this being a pristine wilderness area that's going to hurt the wildlife, you're hearing it from people that have never been there and have a vested interest in telling you that because they are probably trying to raise money for some fringe group.
And I made a promise to Mr. Felton Rexford that when I would get back to Congress, I don't know if I would sway anybody but I would come to the floor of Congress and tell the truth. And the truth is these are the most environmentally conscious people in the country that I have ever met, and they think it can be done in an environmentally friendly way and they support it. And the area there looks like the surface of the moon and not a rainforest, and we can have it all.
So I wanted to honor that, Mr. Gingrey, and I appreciate your giving me the chance to speak tonight on this very key issue.
Mr. GINGREY. I thank my colleague and friend from Florida.
As I was saying, of course, Mr. Speaker, 15 days in the last 5 months, and you look at the schedule for this week, and there is unbelievably nothing, nothing on the agenda that has anything to do with energy.
We are going to have two bills, one I guess on Thursday and one on Friday or maybe Wednesday and Thursday. One of them is the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008 to reauthorize the National Environmental Education Act to help improve the quality of environmental education for primary and secondary school students. And then if you think that one's important, H.R. 3667, the Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2008, authorizes $300,000 for a study of a segment of the Missisquoi River in Vermont for potential designation as Wild and Scenic. Not only does H.R. 3667 not create more American energy, but it might actually prevent future energy exploration along the river like the siting of a liquefied natural gas plant as an example.
And the other 2 days we are doing nothing but suspension bills, and those suspension bills are the ones that you have to have a two-thirds vote. There is little opposition to those bills, and yet they are given 20 minutes of debate on each side, 40 minutes on each of these suspension bills to make it look like we're doing something up here.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I will say that the Democratic majority has done some things since they took control. In January, 2007, when the price of regular gasoline was $2.22, that date we congratulated the U.S. Santa Barbara soccer team. And then on September 5, when the price of regular had gone to $2.84, that was National Passport Month. February 6, 2008, when the price of regular had gone to $3.03, we were commending the Houston Dynamo soccer team. Then on May 14, 2008, the price of regular $3.77, that was National Train Day. Then on May 20, 2008, regular gasoline $3.84 a gallon, that was Great Cats and Rare Canids Act. Really important. On June 10, 2008, the price of regular $4.09 a gallon, the International Year of Sanitation bill. Really important. And then last but not least, June 17, 2008, when the price of regular had gotten up to $4.14, that was the Monkey Safety Act day. We were doing some things all right. We were really working hard up here.
Well, look, the bottom line is this: We have a bill. The Republicans have a bill. We have a comprehensive bill. Yes, the cornerstone is ``Drill Here, Drill Now.'' But this is the all-of-the-above approach to energy independence, and that's what we have to have, not only for our domestic needs but for the security of this Nation. And I commend our nominee for President, John McCain, and our nominee for Vice President, Sarah Palin, because they understand we need to drill on the Outer Continental Shelf. And we will have a Vice President who is from an energy State and understands the importance of those resources that we own.
So, Mr. Speaker, we want to do things in a bipartisan way. And in closing, I know we are getting very close to that hour, but in closing let me just say this: We can work together. We can work together. I know I spent a lot of time up here railing tonight against Speaker Pelosi, but I respect her. She is the Speaker of this House not just for the Democrats but also for the Republicans. We respect her. We respect the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the distinguished Mr. John Dingell from Michigan.
He knows about this country and its needs. Why can't we get together, Mr. Dingell and Mr. Barton, and let's have a bill that is comprehensive, a little give and take on both sides of the aisle, because it's for the American people, and let's worry more about them than the next election. The next election, Mr. Speaker, will take care of itself. Let the people judge on that.
I am going to tell you, when you go back home I am hearing from my constituents, and I know everybody in this House Chamber is hearing from their constituents. We can do it. It's time. It's time to do it, and it's time to do it now.
I think it would be unconscionable if we go home 3 weeks from now and we have not done this. I am willing to stay. I am willing to stay, and 134, maybe even 194 Republicans, and hopefully some good, rock solid Democrats will stay with us this time until we get an energy bill done in a comprehensive, bipartisan way.