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Serious Energy Problems

Location: Washington, DC

SERIOUS ENERGY PROBLEMS -- (House of Representatives - April 21, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, well, America has a serious problem with energy prices. If you just peruse today's Wall Street Journal and New York Times, you will see the airlines are reporting record losses in great part despite efficiencies, despite concessions by labor because of an increase in fuel prices. You see that General Motors has had a huge drop-off in the purchase of their lucrative SUVs and other larger vehicles that consume more gas, Ford similarly.

We find this in small businesses across America; it has been embedded in everything. And now we are beginning to hear that there are stirrings of inflation beyond the price of oil and gas. This is a serious problem; and, unfortunately, this body, the House of Representatives, to its discredit did not adopt a serious or effective proposal to begin to address this problem in either the short or the long term.

Short term, American consumers need relief from high gas prices. They are being gouged at the pump by Big Oil and the OPEC cartel.

Now, I have asked President Bush numerous times, written to him and asked him, he is a big fan of rule of law, international trade agreements, the WTO, all of those things. I am not a big fan. But he says he believes in rules-based trade.

Well, the OPEC cartel is violating the rules of the World Trade Organization. Seven of the OPEC nations are members. They are clearly colluding to restrict production and drive up the price of oil to make a profit. That is clearly prohibited by the WTO. But the President and his trade representative have failed to take any action against the OPEC companies.

Then we have price gouging by Big Oil. Last quarter saw record profits for most of the industry, $8 billion in one quarter for Exxon Mobile. Their cash reserves have doubled to over $20 billion in 1 year, money extracted from Americans 5 cents a gallon at a time or more at the pump by piggybacking on the cartel activities of OPEC, and Big Oil is getting away with it.

This administration is not doing anything to rein in Big Oil. They merge, close refineries, and then blame a shortage of refineries on environmental laws when they have been closed because of mergers to drive up the profits of the oil industry.

We should reinstate a windfall profit tax on the industry. We should break up a number of these huge companies and begin to get some true competition again in that industry.

We cannot continue to bleed this much money. Every day, Americans are bleeding money at the pump, which is ultimately going to spill over into a tremendous problem for our economy, especially if we look at the failing trade policies of this administration.

Then there is energy efficiency, new technologies, energy independence. These are things that seem very foreign to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and to the old oil men who are running this country down at the White House and at an undisclosed location.

Energy efficiency, this bill makes sort of a passing chuckle and nod at energy efficiency. It spends 20 times as much money subsidizing the oil, coal and gas industry. Wait a minute, were we not just talking about the fact they had record profits last quarter? Yes, they do have record profits and they are extracting that from American consumers, but they want their hands in both pockets. They do not want to just take money out of your wallet, they want to take money from taxpayers, too.

So there is $8 billion in this bill, supposedly to help with energy problems. Unfortunately, 95 percent of it is subsidies to the wildly profitable oil, coal and gas industry, which will provide no help to American consumers; and a mere 5 percent is a nod toward the idea perhaps America could develop new sources of energy, perhaps America could become more efficient, perhaps America could become energy independent, but that is only worth 5 percent of what they are putting into the bill.

Just think what it would be like to have an energy-independent America relying upon homegrown sources of energy and new technologies and new efficiencies, and how that would insulate us from these problems around the world. But that is not a vision that is shared by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. They have delivered us today something that would not have been a very enlightened energy policy in 1955, but is just pathetic in the 21st century, considering the threats to our economy and to our national security.

Unfortunately, they prevailed today, but hopefully, in the future, we can do better by the American people.

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