Good Morning. I'm Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
When I was a boy, my father drove a truck for the Hood Milk Company. Affordable gasoline was the lifeblood of the business. When I came to Congress, my father never hesitated to tell me what I should be working on. If he were here today, he would be telling me: "Eddie, I just paid $2.39 for a gallon of gasoline. Whoever is in charge down there is failing miserably — these energy prices are killing us!" He would be right.
Small business owners and families across America deserve an energy policy that will tackle, head on, the challenges that we face. Forty-four years ago, President John F. Kennedy called on the best scientific and technical minds of the nation to put a man on the moon. Less than 10 years later, Neil Armstrong left his footprints in moon dust for the entire world to see.
Today, facing the challenge of rising oil prices and growing dependency on OPEC oil, President Bush concedes that his energy bill will not even begin to reduce gasoline prices.
Instead, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas on Monday, President Bush will host the leader of the world oil cartel, Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to ask for help in lowering gas prices. The President is right to meet with this powerful man, but it is wrong that the leader of the United States must ask favors from a foreign prince.
President Bush says he wishes he could lower gasoline prices with a 'magic wand.' President Kennedy had something better than a magic wand. He had a plan — a plan to harness America's technological genius to move our nation forward.
In contrast, the energy bill that passed the House on Thursday with the President's support would — according to the Department of Energy — actually raise gas prices. That is no surprise. We put 70 percent of our oil into gasoline tanks. Yet, the Republican bill fails to address fuel efficiency. If we don't make our cars and SUVs more fuel efficient, we will become even more dependent upon the OPEC cartel.
If the President's bill fails to reduce our dependence on foreign oil or make vehicles more efficient, what does it do?
— It provides $8 billion in new tax subsidies, primarily to the companies like ExxonMobil which made $25 billion in profits last year;
— It immunizes oil companies from any legal liability for poisoning water supplies with a gasoline additive MTBE; and
— It maintains, incredibly, a huge $35,000 tax loophole to purchase gigantic gas guzzling Hummers and other gas hogs while failing to extend tax incentives for the purchase of modern hybrid cars that reduce gasoline consumption and keep our air cleaner.
We cannot afford to continue to pursue such a failed energy policy. If we fail to reduce our dependence on OPEC oil, we remain beholden to events in dangerous, unstable parts of the world. If we fail to reduce our use of polluting fuels, the number of children with asthma — already over 6 million - will continue to grow. If we fail to reduce the cost of energy, businesses will suffer, farms will fail, and families find it more difficult to make ends meet.
This week, House Democrats offered a more hopeful vision of our energy future, a plan that builds on our strengths, not our weaknesses. Democrats seek to harness America's infinite talent — to move away from an oil-dependent past into a technologically advanced and renewable energy future. We lose when we resort to desperate drilling schemes that despoil our most precious wildlife and wilderness areas. We win when we invest in renewable technologies such as solar and wind energy, and when we promote energy efficiency and conservation, which all create new jobs.
Our most impressive national triumphs have always come in the face of adversity. We can solve the energy crisis, but only when our leaders feel the same urgency for change that American families feel, right now, on a Saturday morning, filling up the car and paying the bills
I am Congressman Ed Markey. Thank you for listening.