WASHINGTON – The following is a transcript of the Democrats radio response:
Good morning, I’m Congressman John Dingell of Michigan and on behalf of the Democratic Party I would like to talk to you about this nation’s energy needs.
But first, I want to note the passing of a great American, a woman who is one of America’s greatest heroes: Rosa Parks. I was privileged to know her and despite her small frame, she was a giant of a woman who was a living testament to the fact that America can do better.
Now, we need to do better on energy as Americans face high gas prices and skyrocketing home heating oil and natural gas bills. Since the late 1990s, we have seen a five-fold increase in natural gas prices. In the past year alone, prices have doubled, with no end in sight. Cold weather will increase the demand for heat. Meanwhile, oil prices are at all-time highs, squeezing consumers at the pump as gas prices hover around $3 a gallon in some areas, and increasing the cost of home heating oil.
When energy costs skyrocket, so does the cost of everything else in society. High oil prices mean it costs more to transport goods and people in our global economy, which causes difficulty for everyone from our largest manufacturers to our smallest children, whose parents now worry about the cost of traveling to Grandma’s for the holiday. High natural gas prices mean high prices for electricity, for everyday goods, and even for the food you eat.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exacerbated America’s energy problems, driving up already high gas prices, and providing a clear example of how the Administration had failed to create an energy policy for the future.
What was the Republican answer to the hurricanes? More subsidies to the oil industry, whose largest company, Exxon Mobil, recently reported a $9.9 billion profit in the third quarter alone. That’s right; millions of your hard-earned tax dollars would go to the same companies reaping the benefit of $3 a gallon of gas and $60 a barrel of oil. The Republicans even added anti-environmental provisions seeking a free ride. This bill was so bad that the Republican leadership had to hold the vote open to twist enough of their Members’ arms to pass it. Had they played by the normal rules of Congress, it surely would have been defeated.
Democrats do have a better way. We are focused on the immediate problems of gasoline prices and the anticipated increases in natural gas and home heating oil prices.
We have proposed a tough anti-price gouging law. We also proposed a Strategic Refinery Reserve to build refineries that would help protect our national security and consumers from supply disruptions. Republicans defeated the Democratic proposals on a party-line vote, but Democrats will never stop offering new ideas for America’s energy problems.
Democrats believe that investing in energy innovation can move us toward energy independence. We seek to increase federal funding for research and development in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean coal technology. We also want to increase incentives to promote private sector research, development, and deployment of energy technologies. Unfortunately, the Republicans’ eagerness to cut taxes for millionaires is hindering needed energy research and development that would benefit all Americans.
To meet our energy needs, we do not need to weaken protections for clean air and clean water, or spend your tax dollars to help out the oil companies. We do need to change policies and priorities in Washington. We need to start investing more in energy innovation and stop showering tax cuts upon the wealthy. And we must protect consumers against price gouging on gasoline, natural gas, and home heating oil, while fully funding the low-income home energy assistance program.
What the American people want and deserve is a government responsive to them, not to well-connected cronies. We must respond to the needs of the American consumers who are seeing the prospect of $4 a gallon gas and $1,000 monthly heating bills. I promise that Democrats will keep fighting for constructive solutions to America’s energy needs.
Democrats know that together, America can do better. This is Congressman John Dingell of Michigan. God bless all of you and God bless the United States of America.