June 11, 2008

STATEMENT ON GAS PRICE LEGISLATION

MR. CARDIN: MR. PRESIDENT, I TAKE THIS TIME ON BEHALF OF MARYLANDERS WHO ARE WORRIED. THEY'RE WORRIED BECAUSE OF THE HIGH COST OF ENERGY, WORRIED ABOUT THE COST OF FILLING UP THEIR TANK, THEIR CAR WITH GASOLINE, AND THEY WANT US TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. THEY'RE LOOKING TO US. THEY RECALL JUST SEVEN YEARS AGO WHEN PRESIDENT BUSH TOOK OFFICE, THE PRICE WAS JUST OVER $2 A GALLON. IT IS HAVING A DIRECT IMPACT ON PEOPLE IN MY STATE BEING ABLE TO AFFORD TO OPERATE THEIR AUTOMOBILES. I CAN TELL YOU BUSINESSES IN MARYLAND -- AND I'M SURE MY COLLEAGUES COULD HAVE SIMILAR STORIES AROUND THE NATION, PARTICULARLY SMALL BUSINESSES THAT RELY UPON THEIR CAR OR TRUCK FOR DELIVERY OF PRODUCT OR TRANSPORTATION WHO DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO AFFORD THE INCREASED COST OF ENERGY. THEY'RE ON THE BRINK OF GOING OUT OF BUSINESS BECAUSE OF THE RISING ENERGY COSTS. AND THEY WANT US TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
 
SO, MR. PRESIDENT, I AM PARTICULARLY DISAPPOINTED AND FRUSTRATED THAT THE REPUBLICANS DECIDED TWICE THIS WEEK TO DENY US AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING: LEGISLATING ON THIS VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE. THE CONSUMER FIRST ENERGY ACT OF 2008 WOULD HAVE MADE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE ON THE COST OF ENERGY HERE IN THE UNITED STATES. I'M PROUD TO BE A COSPONSOR OF THAT LEGISLATION. YET THE REPUBLICANS USED A PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCK, A FILIBUSTER, TO PREVENT US FROM TAKING UP THAT LEGISLATION, DEBATING IT, ACTING AMENDMENTS, AND DOING WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING. INSTEAD, THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP SAID THE STATUS QUO IS ACCEPTABLE.
 
MR. PRESIDENT, THE STATUS QUO IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. NOW, WHAT WOULD THIS LEGISLATION DO? FIRST, IT WOULD SAY THAT TAXPAYERS DON'T NEED TO SUBSIDIZE THE OIL COMPANIES. THE OIL COMPANIES ARE MAKING RECORD PROFITS. IN 2002, THEIR PROFITS WERE $29 BILLION. LAST YEAR THAT GREW TO $124 BILLION. THEY DON'T NEED PUBLIC SUBSIDIES. TAXPAYERS SHOULD NOT BE SUBSIDIZING THEIR FUNDS. AND, BY THE WAY, THEY'RE NOT INVESTING THESE PROFITS BACK HERE IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY'RE NOT LOOKING AT WAYS TO MAKE THIS NATION ENERGY-SECURE. THEY'RE NOT INVESTING IN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES.
 
IT WAS PRESIDENT BUSH WHO SAID IN A SPEECH ON APRIL 14, 2005, THAT IF OIL REACHES $55 A BARREL, THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SUBSIDIZE FURTHER EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF THE OIL INDUSTRY. WELL, MR. PRESIDENT, THE PRICE IS NOW $140 A BARREL. SO THE SUBSIDIES WE'RE PPROVIDING, THE $17 BILLION, SHOULD BE REINVESTED HERE AMERICA RATHER THAN SUBSIDIZING OIL COMPANIES FOR EVEN GREATER PROFITS. LET'S USE THAT FOR MAKING THIS NATION ENERGY-SECURE. LET'S USE IT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES. AND EXACTLY WHAT THIS LEGISLATION WOULD DO.
 
THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT WINDFALL PROFITS TAX. WELL, I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE THE OIL INDUSTRY IS ENTITLED TO A PROFIT. THEY'RE JUST NOT ENTITLED TO AN OBSCENE PROFIT, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE WORLD CIRCUMSTANCES IN OIL, AND WITH THE WINDFALL PROFIT PROVISION OF THIS LEGISLATION -- AND WHAT THE WINDFALL PROFIT PROVISION OF THIS LEGISLATION WOULD DO, TO THE OIL COMPANIES, JUST INVEST A LITTLE BY THE OF THAT MONEY HERE IN AMERICA, INVEST IT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES. THAT'S WHAT IT DOES. IT IS A CLEAR MESSAGE ABOUT THE SECURITY OF AMERICA.
 
AND THIS LEGISLATION WOULD TAKE ON THE SPECULATORS. A LARGE PART OF THE COST IS NOT THAT WE'RE USING MORE OIL. ACTUALLY WE'RE USING LESS OIL TODAY, BECAUSE WITH THE HIGH COST THERE'S LESS CONSUMER ACTIVITY. BUT WE HAVE SPECULATORS, WE HAVE PEOPLE WHO ARE BUYING OIL FUTURES THAT ARE DRIVING UP THE COST OF OIL AND WE'RE PAYING MORE AT THE PUMP. AND THIS LEGISLATION SAYS VERY SIMPLY, THOSE TYPES OF SPECULATORS SHOULD BE REGULATED. THERE SHOULD BE MARGIN REQUIREMENTS THAT MAKE SENSE, THAT THEY JUST CAN'T SPECULATE WITHOUT SOUND INVESTMENT PRINCIPLES. AND THAT'S WHAT THIS LEGISLATION DOES.
 
THIS LEGISLATION EXPRESSES OUR CONCERNS THAT THE OIL OPEC COUNTRIES THAT ARE SENDING OIL INTO AMERICA AND DEPEND UPON U.S. CONSUMERS SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO OUR ANTITRUST LAWS. THIS LEGISLATION WOULD HELP IN THE SHORT TERM, HELP BRING DOWN THE COST OF GASOLINE IN THE SHORT TERM BUT WOULD ALSO PROVIDE US SOME LONG-TERM STRATEGIES FOR ENERGY SECURITY, AND WHAT DID THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP DO? THEY SAID, NO, LET'S NOT TALK ABOUT IT. MR. PRESIDENT, STATUS QUO IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
 
AND THEN THERE WAS H.R. 6049 THAT THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP AGAIN EXERCISED A FILIBUSTER PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCK SO WE COULDN'T TAKE LEGISLATION UP THAT PROVIDES FOR TAX INCENTIVES FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES IN THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE, SO WE CAN DEVELOP THE WIND, THE SOLAR, THE GEOTHERMAL AND ENERGIZE INNOVATIVE INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES AND USING OUR MARKET FORCES TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS HERE IN AMERICA. THE LEGISLATION ALSO PROVIDED FOR MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT BUILDINGS WHICH MAKES SENSE AND EXTENDED THE EXPIRING TAX PROVISIONS, INCLUDING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, MR. PRESIDENT, WHICH  WOULD ALSO HELP US IN RENEWING THE ECONOMY.
 
THE PRESIDENT SAID NO. PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCKS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT US TO ACT. OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES SAY WE CAN PRODUCE ENOUGH OIL TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM. AMERICA DOES NOT HAVE A LARGE RESERVE OF OIL. WE HAVE 3% OF THE WORLD'S OIL, INCLUDING ANWR. AND ANWR WOULD PRODUCE ABOUT .6% OF THE OIL IN THE WORLD. DOES ANYONE HERE THINK THAT THE OPEC NATIONS WOULDN'T JUST REDUCE OUR SUPPLY OF OIL FROM THEM BY THAT AMOUNT? AS THE MAJORITY LEADER HAS POINTED OUT WHEN I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIT IN THE CHAIR EARLIER TODAY, WE HAVE SOURCES OF OIL. WE ARE UTILIZING THOSE SOURCES. WE ARE EXPLORING WHERE WE CAN. BUT THE TRUTH IS, WE CONSUME 25% OF THE WORLD'S OIL. AND WE HAVE 3% OF THE RESERVES. WE CAN'T PRODUCE ENOUGH OIL TO DEAL FOR OUR NEEDS.
 
WE NEED TO DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES. LET ME JUST GIVE YOU ONE OTHER STATISTIC. IF WE WOULD HAVE PASSED THE CAFÉ STANDARDS 10 YEARS AGO, WE WOULD BE SAVING MORE OIL THAN THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT THAT'S CURRENTLY IN RESERVE IN ANWR. SO, WE NEED TO BECOME ENERGY-SECURE. WE NEED TO DO IT FOR SEVERAL REASONS. WE NEED TO DO IT BECAUSE OF OUR SECURITY, WE NEED TO DO IT BECAUSE OF OUR ECONOMY. WE NEED TO DO IT BECAUSE OF OUR ENVIRONMENT. MR. PRESIDENT, IF WE DEVELOP ALTERNATIVE FUELS, IF WE DO BETTER IN CONSERVATION, IF WE IN INVEST IN MORE EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION, WE CANNOT ONLY BECOME INDEPENDENT OF THE OPEC COUNTRIES AND THEIR HOLD THEY HAVE ON US IN DETERMINING HOW MUCH OIL THEY'LL MAKE AVAILABLE TO US, BUT WE ALSO CAN BE FRIENDLIER TO OUR ENVIRONMENT. WE CAN DEAL WITH A SERIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE THAT WE HAVE, AND AMERICA CAN RESTORE ITS INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP.
 
AND WHAT DO THE REPUBLICANS SAY? WE CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES WITH A BILL, WITH AMENDMENTS BEFORE US BECAUSE THEY USE PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCKS TO PREVENT US FROM TAKING UP THIS ISSUE. WELL, MR. PRESIDENT, WE SHOULD BE TAKING UP THESE BILLS. MARYLANDERS WANT US TO ACT AND VOTE AND MAKE THE TOUGH DE DECISIONS. THEY WANT US TO DO THAT. THEY WANT US TO DEVELOP AN ENERGY POLICY THAT WEANS US OFF OF OIL, MAKES US ENERGY-SECURE, THAT ALLOWS -- THAT MAKES US ENERGY-SECURE, THAT ALLOWS US TO CONTROL THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF ENERGY, THAT PUTS AMERICA IN THE FOREFRONT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ON GLOBAL WARMING TO DEAL WITH POLLUTION AND TO DEAL WITH THE RISKS THAT ARE INVOLVED.
 
BUT WHAT AMERICANS WANT US TO DO TODAY IS TO MOVE FORWARD ON THE LEGISLATION THAT IS BEFORE US, THE CONSUMER FIRST ENERGY ACT THAT COULD AND WOULD HAVE IMPACT ON THE PRICE OF GAS IN THE SHORT TERM SO THAT THOSE MARYLANDERS THAT I HAVE TALKED TO, THAT HAVE THEIR BUSINESSES, THAT WE ARE TAKING EVERY REASONABLE STEP HERE TO DEAL WITH THEIR CONCERNS AND TO HELP THEM. MR. PRESIDENT, THAT WOULD BE THE RESPONSIBLE ACTION FOR US TO TAKE. I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO PUT ASIDE THIS PARTISAN DIFFERING AND LET'S ACT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION. AND WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR. AND I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.