Good morning. I'm Senator Maria Cantwell from the State of Washington.
With gas prices rising 70 cents in one year, consumers are left with few options and the American economy and American families are hurting. School days where students could be learning are cancelled because local school districts can't afford the high costs of diesel for school buses.
Family wage airline jobs and pensions are being lost because airlines can't afford the skyrocketing cost of jet fuel. And America's heartland, already operating on razor-thin margins, is spending more on fuel and fertilizer than farmers can make up by selling their crops.
This is an America Democrats won't accept. Democrats want to jumpstart America's stalled energy strategy. The United States being fifty percent dependent on foreign oil today, and heading toward 60 percent, is a future we cannot afford.
Democrats believe America can be Energy Independent by the year 2020. It begins with conservation and efficiency. A recent Pentagon study, cosponsored by The Rocky Mountain Institute, shows how America can achieve energy independence by investing in lightweight materials and alternative fuels.
We can ask Americans to sacrifice. We can ask Americans to conserve. We can ask American to innovate. And to invest in new technologies. We just can't ask them to accept the status quo. It's time to end the huge tax breaks for big oil, and replace them with new incentives for lightweight, efficient materials and for cars that can run on either ethanol or gasoline.
America needs to look no further than Brazil, a country which has gone from being 70 percent dependent on foreign oil to being energy independent today. And they did this by filling their cars with locally produced ethanol. If Brazil can do it, we can do it here in the United States.
And rather than competing with countries like China and India for access to the world's oil reserves, the United States should be turning those countries into markets for our new energy technology.
In the Northwest, we're already leading the way in the forefront of a new biofuels industry. God gave our nation only three percent of the world's reserves. We cannot drill our way to energy independence.
I'd rather bet on American ingenuity and investment than rely on the future goodwill of Middle East regimes. In the short-term, Congress needs to protect consumers and pass a new law by Memorial Day to make price-gouging a federal crime.
Democrats believe that supply and demand are basic forces that guide our economy. But even those forces demand real transparency to make sure that markets are functioning the way they're supposed to. It's time that we simply stop talking about energy independence and start running towards a future that will make America more secure and more economically competitive.
I'm Senator Maria Cantwell from the State of Washington. Thank you for listening.