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Cole Shines Light on Majority's Energy Inaction; Calls for Solutions

June 11, 2008

WASHINGTON - Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor last night drawing attention to Speaker Pelosi and the Majority party's unwillingness to take action to expand American-made energy to help drive down the rising cost of gasoline.

"Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. I thank my good friend from Michigan for yielding. And I thank him even more for conducting what is an important and enlightening educational experience for the people of our country about the reality of high fuel prices and what is behind it. You do take a little ribbing occasionally if you're from Oklahoma. But we think that is generally jealousy, except from our friends from Texas, who have a very similar view of the world to us."

"But let me talk a little if I can about what the current state of play is in energy prices. Today as you have had up on your sign, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $4.04. That is something I never thought I would live to see, and frankly, no American should have ever lived to see. You can now buy a barrel of light sweet crude for July delivery at $131.31, a nice round number, nice even alliterative number. Currently in my State, Oklahoma's price at the pump, and we are producers, in some ways we will we feel it even worse because we have been producing for over 100 years much more than we consume and exporting it to the rest of the country. And we are delighted to do that. But it is pretty tough when people in Oklahoma, a producing State that sacrificed, that frankly are delighted to have exploration and production, but they are paying $3.83 a gallon."

"In January of 2007 when this majority, this Democrat majority took office, the price per gallon was $2.08 a gallon. That is a rise of $1.75, an increase of over 80 percent."

"The country as a whole has experienced very much the same thing. The average price since the Democratic majority has come into power has gone up $1.67, an increase of 71 percent."

"Now, that is not what our friends on the other side of the aisle expected to happen at all. As a matter of fact, let me read you a few quotes of what they told America as they came into the majority our energy future would be."

"Our distinguished Speaker, Speaker Pelosi, said on April 18, 2006, 'Democrats have a commonsense plan to help bring down the skyrocketing gas prices.' She said a few days later, 'The Democrats have a plan to lower gas prices.'"

"Our distinguished Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on the 4th of April, 2005, 'Democrats believe that we can do more for the American people who are struggling to deal with high gas prices.' I would love to 'struggle' to pay $2.08 a gallon. It would be a nice fight to have."

"Our good friend and distinguished whip of the majority party, Jim Clyburn said, 'House Democrats have a plan to help curb rising prices.' That is on the 26th of July, 2006. If this is the plan, we want them to go back to the drawing board and reconsider where they are at."

"Four times since they have taken the majority they have voted to increase energy taxes; to increase energy taxes. Now, even people that don't like the energy industry can usually say, well, gosh, if you increase the tax, won't they pass that along to us in the price? It is an incredible record."

"Now, every single energy bill the majority wants to reach the floor has reached the floor. Most of them have passed this body. Some of them have gone all the way to the President and been signed. As I recall, I don't remember anybody who actually vetoed any energy legislation that has actually reached the President's desk. So what we are seeing really is the product of the majority's legislative agenda."

"What haven't they let come to the floor? What commonsense solutions that most Americans support haven't come to the floor? I am just going to list a few of them, because, as my colleague knows, there are many of them."

"Our colleague from Texas, Mac Thornberry, has a wonderful bill, the No More Excuses Energy Act, H.R. 3089, that literally covers the gambit of things we ought to be doing. Not just oil and gas, but nuclear, solar and wind. It incentivizes production. That is the lesson that our friends on the other side have forgotten, that supply is really important to cost. They simply seem to have no conception of that."
"There is a wonderful bill by Mr. Pitts of Pennsylvania, H.R. 2279, that will expedite the construction of new refining capacity on closed military installations in the United States. These are installations that have been set aside. They are safe. They are secure. Why in the world wouldn't we want to refine the product? If we have to import it, we at least ought to get the value-added portion of refining it. It is a crime that we should ever import a refined product."

"Our good friend Mr. Blunt, H.R. 2493, has legislation that removes the fuel blend requirements and government mandates that contribute to unaffordable gas prices. We shouldn't have dozens and dozens of blends of gasoline. A few is enough."

"Our good friend Mrs. Myrick has H.R. 6108, Outer Continental Shelf Exploration, which grants coastal states the authority to grant exploration up to 100 miles from their coastlines and allows States to share in that revenue. A commonsense solution."

"None of this legislation, and dozens more, have been allowed to come to the floor. My friends on the other side love to blame Republicans, President Bush and the energy industry for these kinds of problems."

"I just want to conclude quickly with a story. I do represent a district that is one of the top 20 energy producers in the United States, so we are more than doing our part. I convened about a year ago, actually before this extraordinary rise in prices, a group of independent energy people that have spent a lifetime trying to provide energy to this country."

"I asked them, 'Give me your suggestions. What can we do to increase the supply and stabilize and hopefully lower the price of a gallon of gasoline or heating fuel or electricity?' They thought, and they had a lot of great solutions."

"They said, 'Let's go drill in ANWR, in Alaska. That would be a wonderful thing.' By the way, my good friend Mr. Young has a superb piece of legislation on that, H.R. 6107, that would actually allow us to drill there and invest some of the severance revenue in alternative energy supplies so we could both meet an immediate need and start looking for alternatives."

"But they suggested that. I said, 'Well, you know, I am for that. I voted for that. The Republican majority passed it four times in the House and couldn't get it through the Senate because of Democratic obstruction, so we probably can't get it done.'"

"Then they said, 'Let's do more exploration and production offshore. We have seen Katrina. That has worked well in terms of no spillage. We know we had 25 percent of our supply in the Gulf of Mexico. We could do more.' I said, 'Well, I am for that, but we can't do that either.'''

"Then they asked about additional refining capacity, and they asked about expedited permitting on non-park Federal lands. They just went through a litany of things. Alternative energy. Each one I would say yes, I am for that, but we can't get that through, particularly a Democratic Congress."

"Finally at the end of this in frustration, one of my good friends said, 'Well, why don't you go back and ask those other Members of Congress who are opposing these measures just how rich they want foreign countries to be? Just how much they want to pay the people overseas that we are importing this petroleum from, or this gas, when we could actually do the production here? Because they are exporting thousands of jobs, billions of dollars, and they are jeopardizing our security.'"

"Then the guy added in fairness, he said, 'By the way, we are all here giving you suggestions about how to lower the price of the product that we produce.'"

"We have had a shameful exercise, in my opinion, in the last several days, particularly on the Senate side, where people that work to solve America's energy problems are brought in and interrogated as if they are the source of the problems, and the only frankly justification for that is the high prices. But when those people respond, they say, 'If you would just do the things we have asked you to do year after year after year, we could solve this problem.'"

"So I am sorry I went on. You have been very generous with your time, and I appreciate that very much. But it is a frustrating problem when the solutions are sitting here waiting to be acted upon by this House and none of them are being dealt with at all."