Washington, D.C. – Senator John Ensign delivered a floor speech today laying out the need for real solutions and a serious approach to lowering gas prices.
"The problem is bigger than speculation, and good ideas from all sides should be considered…There is a real solution—it's a plan that reflects the innovative spirit of our country and the commitment we all have to preserving our environment. It involves going back to that balanced approach that boosts renewable energy, encourages energy efficiency, and grows our American energy supply." - Sen. John Ensign
Full Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
When I am approached about the energy crisis we are facing—and I'm approached frequently by constituents and even my family and friends—I can tell that people are feeling, at the least, very uneasy about the situation. There is a weight that comes with soaring prices on fuel, food, and everything else that is part of our daily spending habits. Every time Americans fill up their tanks, check out at the grocery store, or make a decision about where to cut spending, that weight gets heavier and heavier.
The American people are looking to us for solutions. We have a responsibility to make difficult decisions here in order to provide them much-needed relief at home. For many months, Republicans have been working to provide that relief. We've been focused on a three-pronged approach: boosting renewable and alternative energy, encouraging energy efficiency, and growing our American energy supply. This line of attack balances the need for us to be responsible stewards of our environment with the need for reliable, affordable energy to fuel our lives and our economy.
We are not in a position to rely on any one solution to lift us out of this crisis. However, the Democrats are focusing their efforts on a single idea to respond to the pleas of Americans. Rather than dedicate this body to building a comprehensive energy plan that provides real solutions for the future, the Democrats have put forward a plan to curb speculation. This approach does little, if anything, about high gas prices. Instead the Democrats' speculation bill could hurt our economy by eliminating investment options that our nation's retirees depend upon, making American businesses less competitive, and ultimately driving U.S. jobs overseas. The only way to significantly lower the price of gas is to increase supply. Let's harness the power of our commodities markets and take concrete steps to expand the future supply of American energy. The market will take this into account, and I am certain that we will see prices at the pump fall.
This plan to blame all our troubles on speculators does nothing to bring down prices at the pump, which means it does nothing to bring down the price of food, clothing, or any of the other consumer goods that are affected by the price of gas. It will not provide relief for struggling Americans, and it lacks the vision and leadership our country needs on this issue. All it does is delay other efforts that would make a difference.
One thing the Democrats are doing successfully is blocking the efforts of Republicans to fully participate in shaping this legislation. The problem is bigger than speculation, and good ideas from all sides should be considered.
We're talking about one of the greatest challenges facing our nation, and our constituents have no voice in this process. And they need their voices heard. Countless constituents have taken the time to share their personal stories with me, and there is a common thread in their messages. Fixed-income seniors worry about driving to the doctor, buying their medicine, and paying for food. They're asking for real solutions. Many Nevadans can't afford to travel to visit ailing relatives, and our entire tourism industry in the United States is being hurt by the high cost of fuel. The airlines are in trouble and will be cutting jobs. Manufacturers are cutting jobs. Families have to cut spending a little deeper every week to balance their budgets. They're asking for real solutions.
And there is a real solution—it's a plan that reflects the innovative spirit of our country and the commitment we all have to preserving our environment. It involves going back to that balanced approach that boosts renewable energy, encourages energy efficiency, and grows our American energy supply.
With families tightening their budgets more and more, and with seniors struggling month to month, Americans do not want to hear that there are trillions of barrels of American oil off limits to meet their energy needs. Trillions of barrels…not in Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or some other country that hates us – but right here in the United States, under our control.
Ten billion barrels in ANWR. Eight and a half billion barrels in deep sea exploration. Almost 2 trillion barrels from oil shale in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. We also have a 230-year supply of coal and great potential in nuclear energy. These American sources, combined with conservation and aggressive investment in renewable and green energy—solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, fuel cells, and electric vehicles—are the key to setting us on a course to energy independence and security.
There are some who argue that increasing American energy supply will provide no immediate relief. They argue that ANWR, deep sea exploration, and oil shale are years away from producing sizable amounts of oil. The same could be said for renewable energy development. But these changes would lower prices and would do so quickly because the market will react to expected supply increases. And the American people would react to the fact that we have shown vision and accomplished something for their good.
Even so, when has instant gratification been the mantra of investing in American innovation? Highways and bridges aren't built in a day, but we know they are an investment in our infrastructure. Schools and libraries aren't built in a day, but we don't throw our hands in the air and say, "Never mind." Hospitals and medical facilities can take years to plan and build, but we don't continue to put off what we know must be done to serve our citizens.
And standing around talking about how long it will take to get these projects on line doesn't help get the process started any faster. The time for talk passed as quickly as $3.50 a gallon gas came and went. Enough is enough. The American people are looking to us to provide them much-needed relief, and we must rise to the occasion.
Today, the average cost of a gallon of gas in Nevada is $4.21. I'd like to ask my colleagues across the aisle what the magic number is. At what price per gallon will you finally step aside and allow us to focus on real solutions? The American people want to know how much longer they must suffer while we stand here debating oil speculation.
Bill Clinton vetoed ANWR ten years ago in a bill passed by Republicans in Congress. If he had signed that bill into law, at least one million more barrels of oil would be flowing to the United States every day and gas prices would be lower.
Let's not miss another opportunity for action, and let's not ignore the cries of frustration from our constituents. Let's show them that we understand the difficult choices they are making and that a better day is on the horizon. Now is the time to act.
We need to extend renewable energy tax incentives before they expire. If we fail to act, we will be responsible for the end of American renewable energy innovation. That is not an accomplishment that any of us should want.
We need to remove the barriers that stand in the way of our new American energy frontier. Let's send our enemies in the Middle East a pink slip—we won't be requiring their services any longer. Isn't it time to stop subsidizing their economies? We send them $700 billion a year, and at the very least, they're teaching a new generation to hate Americans. At the worst, they are funding the weapons used against Americans. A comprehensive energy plan means that our economy and our livelihoods won't be held hostage any longer.
That is a day that I look forward to and that all Americans look forward to. But to get to that day, we have to act. On behalf of the more than 2.7 million Nevadans who need us to do something, I ask you to make comprehensive energy legislation something we can all be proud of.