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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I am glad to be able to come to the floor. I wish to talk about a subject that was talked about to me a lot during the Presidents Day break back in Georgia. I spent most of that week traveling in my State, going to townhall meetings, listening to Georgians from Savannah, GA, to Murray County, GA, and everywhere in between. It was absolutely easy to tell what the No. 1 issue for the average American or the average Georgia family is; that is, what the price of gasoline is doing to their budget.
Gasoline prices continue to escalate. In fact, I have a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that I use from time to time and I had to fill it last weekend. It cost $78 to fill it, and it wasn't totally empty. That is a big pricetag to fill a pickup truck. When I think of every carpenter or farmer or landscaper or student taking their goods back to school to their dormitory room and how much they have to pay for gasoline to deliver those goods and services or that furniture, I realize how harmful current gas prices are and I fear how high they are going to go.
We need a comprehensive energy policy in the United States of America. I was listening to the distinguished majority whip speak before me. He made an interesting comment about the Keystone Pipeline. He said, even if we approve the Keystone Pipeline, it would not do anything for gas prices today. He is right because we have to build the pipeline. But if we had approved it 2 years ago and it was operating, we would have 700,000 barrels of petroleum more a day coming into the United States. So to say that just because it would not be ready today doesn't help gas prices is not keeping our eye on the ball.
What we have to recognize is, in the absence of a comprehensive policy, in the absence of foresight, in the absence of putting all the general items on the table that generate energy, we are putting off the day in which the United States of America is energy independent. Because we are not energy independent, then what goes on in Iran, in the Strait of Hormuz, and in Venezuela affects the speculation on gasoline and petroleum which affects the prices of gasoline in the United States.
I am not one of these ``burn gas right and left, drill as much as you can, fossil fuels are fine.'' I know we have problems with carbon. I drive a hybrid vehicle, not because I am trying to drive a point but because it makes sense. Anytime you can reduce carbon, that makes sense. But you cannot eliminate it. You cannot eliminate it. What we have to do is we have to put all sources of energy on the table. And one of those is to continue to explore for gasoline and petroleum in the domestic United States of America--off the Gulf of Mexico, off of our coastline, in our national lands that we own where we know we have shale oil and where we also know we have natural gas.
That exploration ought to be replete throughout the country, so we are expanding our supply and reducing our dependence on foreign imports. The best way to lower the price of gasoline in the future for Georgians and for Americans is for the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States to have a comprehensive energy policy that embraces all forms of energy.
To the credit of the President, he approved not too long ago the loan guarantees on reactors 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle. They will be the first nuclear reactors built in the United States of America since Three Mile Island. Nuclear energy is a safe, reliable, carbon-free--carbon-free--generation of energy. Every time we can expand our nuclear capability we are lessening the pressure on domestic and foreign oil to be burned.
We know in the Haynesville shale and the Marcellus shale, which has been discovered in Pennsylvania and Louisiana and Texas, that we have gone from having a finite supply of natural gas to an infinite supply. Yet, because there is some contest over whether hydraulic fracturing is good or not good, we are not exploring that gasoline as we should or that natural gas as we should. We should be exploring it as much as possible, because it is a cleaner burning fuel than liquid petroleum and gasoline. We ought to be doing renewable energy wherever it makes sense. But we have seen renewable energy has its limits. We spent $6 billion a year subsidizing ethanol in hopes that it would have reduced foreign imports, but it has not. It has had its own problems with two-cycle engines. But ethanol has a place. It is scalable on the farm in some cases. That is a good source of energy.
Solar is a good source of energy where it works. But it only works as a supplement. It is not a primary supply or source. And wind, great. But it is only great in the Midwest and down toward the Southwest. But we ought to be using and encouraging it.
What we ought to be doing is encouraging all forms of exploration, all forms of generation, and all of them domestically in the United States of America. That will bring down gas prices.
The distinguished majority whip was right: It will not bring it down today, because we have put off having an energy policy. But once we finally develop an energy policy, and we stick to it, and we explore all forms of renewable energy and all forms of fossil fuel and all forms of coal, and we enhance nuclear, then we will have a plethora of energy and we will have a lower price and less competition with foreign oil and foreign petroleum, which is where the United States of America needs to be.
Right now, we all realize what is going on in the Middle East is the root cause of most of the increase in the cost of oil, because of speculation. Every time we can improve our position and be free of those influences is better for the United States of America and, most importantly, it is better for the average citizens we all represent.
My message from the people I represent in Georgia, the ones I talked to all during the Presidents Day recess and that week is: Do everything you can to expand your supply of energy wherever you can find it. Take us out of a dependence on foreign imports and get us independent of foreign oil; that will bring down the price of oil. As a byproduct, that will be in the best national security interests of the people of the United States of America.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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