The following is a transcript of the Democrats radio response to President Bush's weekly radio address:
This is Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
We all know the devastation of Hurricane Katrina was a sad chapter in our nation's history. Leadership at all levels failed the people of the Gulf Coast, pulling the curtain back on the challenges facing America — poverty, a shocking lack of preparedness even after 9/11, and the consequences of political cronyism in high places.
But Democrats believe something else was exposed by Hurricane Katrina — something that became all too clear in the wake of Hurricane Rita — our nation's short-sighted energy policy.
As Americans, we know all too well that gasoline prices soared to historic levels in the wake of the hurricanes and have been slow to come down. Whether you are a parent taking your children to school, driving yourself to work in the morning, or a farmer in rural America harvesting or shipping crops, $3 or more for a gallon of gas poses a big problem for all of us.
And winter is fast approaching. The federal government projects that this winter the costs of heating homes will skyrocket, with natural gas prices expected to increase by up to 77 percent. Electricity costs could go up 18 percent, and home heating oil in the Northeast and Midwest could go up a third — all this, on top of home energy costs that have more than doubled since 2001.
This uncertainty tells us that until America reduces its dependence on oil — particularly foreign oil — volatile oil and gas prices will continue putting families' economic security and our national security at risk.
Americans have shown they are ready for new thinking when it comes to solving the energy crisis. Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Washington do not share that commitment. The President's energy bill enacted into law earlier this year was an $85 billion giveaway to big oil and gas companies. And legislation passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives this week provides billions more in tax breaks to the oil refining industry, rolling back environmental laws unrelated to the nation's energy problems, but doing nothing to lower gas prices.
Indeed, Americans deserve to know why oil company profits continue to skyrocket as families and small businesses suffer from high gas prices. Just last month, Exxon Mobil announced that its profits reached $110 million per day — up 60 percent from this time last year. Yet the Administration remains unresponsive to the impending home heating crisis. Fewer than one in five families who qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program are getting help. This, as one study finds some seniors are choosing between heat and buying prescription drugs.
This as almost 12,000 families with a loved one serving in Iraq or Afghanistan are unable to heat their homes. There is something fundamentally wrong with families having to use their stoves and ovens to heat their homes as their spouses, sons and daughters are fighting for their country abroad.
Democrats believe this is a moment for leadership — time for a new direction. America can do better.
Our values tell us that government has a moral obligation to protect families and businesses, making sure that our most vulnerable citizens are cared for. With the Bush Administration's failure to act in response to more than 7,000 complaints of price gouging at the pump, Congress should pass tough criminal penalties for oil company executives who engage in price gouging. America's leaders did not stand for price gouging during World War II — nor should ours today.
But we owe working Americans more than short-term solutions that put a Band-Aid over our mounting energy problems. Rather than rolling back our clean air and water laws and drilling in pristine places like the Arctic Refuge, Democrats believe we should renew our commitment to creating tax credits for hybrid vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars, and investing in ethanol, biofuel, hydrogen fuel cell technology. These new strategies can harness the power of American ingenuity and our farm economy to solve our energy problems, grow our national economy and liberate America from its dependence on Middle East oil.
Democrats believe that the time has come to seize this moment and develop a bold energy policy that invests in new technology and prepares us for the challenges of the 21st century. We need to declare our energy independence. We believe as America unites to rebuild New Orleans, so too must our leaders summon the courage to address our country's energy needs. Making our families and the nation more secure is a matter of urgency — a matter of values.
This is Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.
Thank you for listening.