By Speaker Nancy Pelosi
July 3, 2008
Exactly 232 years ago this week, our Founders declared their independence from the status quo. They listed their grievances against the rule of King George of Great Britain and declared the United States of America to be a free and independent state.
In the same way, we too must as a nation declare our energy independence from the status quo and declare our grievances against nearly eight years of the Bush-Cheney Big Oil agenda. In that time, America has become more dependent on foreign oil than ever before and consumers are paying the price at the pump, with gas costing more than $4 a gallon and going up every week.
Instead of promoting energy independence, President Bush and many Congressional Republicans have:
OPPOSED repealing $18 billion in unnecessary subsidies for the top five Big Oil companies and investing that money in renewable energy resources;
OPPOSED extending tax breaks for solar, wind and other renewables and a national 15 percent Renewable Electricity Standard;
OPPOSED legislation to crack down on excessive speculation on oil and gas futures and opposed efforts to end market manipulation and price gouging;
OPPOSED telling Big Oil to “Use It or Lose It” and drill on the land they already hold and opposed legislation that would have stopped Big Oil from drilling for free on public land even when prices are high;
OPPOSED legislation to stop buying more oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at record prices, signing it only after it passed with veto-proof margins.
To bring a New Direction, the Democratic-led Congress is working on real, immediate and lasting solutions to lower $4 a gallon gas prices to provide a path for sustained energy independence. The American people deserve a more affordable, cleaner, greener energy future.
We can't drill our way to energy independence - the U.S. consumes almost a quarter of the world's oil but has less than 2 percent of the world's known oil reserves.
The New Direction Congress has a new energy policy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by reducing demand through greater efficiency and accelerating the use of renewable fuels - both of which will result in lower prices at the pump.
Under Democratic leadership, last year we enacted the landmark Energy Independence and Security Act, raising vehicle fuel efficiency standards for the first time in three decades. Reducing demand for gasoline by requiring more fuel efficient vehicles is one of the most effective ways to reduce gas prices and will save families from $700 to $1,000 per year at the pump.
The energy bill also increased our commitment to affordable American-grown biofuels, imposed energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and protects consumers from energy price and supply manipulation. It set an aggressive requirement to ramp up the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels in our cars and trucks in 2022, further reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which will help reduce the price. This law is in the early stages of implementation, and its provisions are critical to lowering Americans' energy bills and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Congress also enacted the Farm Bill over the President's veto, which boosts homegrown biofuel production largely from non-food crops. It also reduces the ethanol tax subsidy and instead encourages the production of new cellulosic biofuels.
The President signed the energy bill, but his commitment to better fuel efficiency is questionable; we learned this week that the White House is blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from releasing a report showing that we could achieve even higher fuel efficiency standards in the near future.
In the short term, more can be done to provide consumers relief at the pump. This week, because Congress acted, the Bush Administration temporarily stopped filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, resulting in an additional 70,000 barrels of oil a day coming onto the market; the increased supply may bring down prices a bit.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation requiring the Administration to use its emergency powers to curb excessive speculation and other practices distorting the energy markets. We need to bring transparency to the markets to prevent gamesmanship from driving up fuel prices.
To promote conservation, the House also passed legislation last week to encourage public transit by reducing fares for commuters and expanding transit services. A clear majority also voted to investigate and punish those found guilty of price gouging. Finally, to promote safe domestic drilling, a majority voted to force Big Oil to “use it or lose it” on federal drilling permits on the 68 million acres of undeveloped federal oil reserves they are currently warehousing, keeping domestic supply lower and prices higher.
The New Direction Congress will continue to pursue every possible effective solution to address the causes of the record energy prices and to assist consumers in coping with the prohibitive cost of energy as we transition to a more sustainable energy future.