Interview With New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey

This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," July 30, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRIAN SULLIVAN, GUEST HOST: Oil soaring as President Bush comes out swinging, crude up nearly five bucks today — the president demanding Democrats stop holding up a vote on drilling.

Welcome, everybody. I'm Brian Sullivan, in for Neil Cavuto. Neil will be back on Monday.

But, right now, Congress gearing up for its summer getaway, but will Democrats get away without a vote on drilling?

With us now, Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey of New York State.

Congressman Hinchey, Brian Sullivan.

Are we going to see a vote?

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY (D), NEW YORK: Brian, how are you?

Yes, we're seeing a lot of votes on the floor today. And the oil companies have access to huge amounts of land that they can drill on. They can drill offshore. They can drill onshore. They can drill in Alaska. They have been given the permits to do so, but they're not doing it.

SULLIVAN: That's because much of those parcels are simply not viable or too expensive, though, correct?

HINCHEY: No, no, no. That's incorrect. All of that land is very viable. They have already leased it. They wanted to lease it. They have the leases. They have more drilling permits issued by this administration than any other administration in the past. Yet, they're only using a fraction of those drilling permits.

They have 68 million acres down here in the lower 48 states, both on dry land and offshore, which they're not using. They have access to another 20 million acres up in Alaska they're not using.

Why is it that they're not using what they have, but they want more nevertheless? And you have this president saying something ridiculous, which is, you give them more land to drill on, and maybe you will have lower energy costs. But we know very well that the result of drilling on this new land, if they were giving it, wouldn't have any effect for at least another decade.

Why don't they do what they can now, get something done now?

SULLIVAN: All right, well, listen, back in 2005, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made comments about finding domestic solutions — quote — "Democrats will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by investing in domestic sources."

Isn't drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf using a domestic resource?

HINCHEY: Well, they have access to offshore drilling right now, the oil companies do. That's the point. What we're trying to do here is to increase efficiency. We have raised automobile efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years. We want to do that even more, get the — get it done even more efficiently. We want to have tax credits for alternative renewable energy, like solar, both direct and indirect.

SULLIVAN: Yes, but that...

HINCHEY: We want to have more hybrid cars.

SULLIVAN: And that's nice for the future. Talk about way off. I mean, why wasn't something done 10 years ago? You're a member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Shouldn't we use all of our natural resources?

HINCHEY: Remember what was done back in the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter was president, how our dependence on foreign oil was dropping, how our use of oil and other fossil fuels was dropping dramatically, until, in 1981, when a different president came in and changed all of that.

And we haven't made very much progress since then, until we started making progress last year, when we increased the efficiency for automobiles, when we passed legislation to provide tax credits for alternative energy, and a whole host of other things, which are being blocked by this administration and prevented from being passed in the Senate.

SULLIVAN: What does this have to do with drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf?

The oil companies don't have the resources to go out and get it right now because they're using every rig they can.


SULLIVAN: I agree with that. But, at the same time, Congressman, shouldn't we make it available if it's closer, easier, cheaper? There is land. There is water. It's just far away and there's no economies of scale.


HINCHEY: Brian, the land that's available to them now, both here in the lower 48 states, on dry land, and the land that's available to them off the coast, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, is the least expensive, most readily available that they're going to find, the least expensive. And it can produce the energy much more quickly than anything far off the Continental Shelf.

Let's do and use what we have available to us now. Why aren't these energy companies using it? Why is this president putting out another example of the falsification of information?

SULLIVAN: You know why? Because the Democrats want to tax their profits. So, why would they invest when they know, if they make more money, the government's just going to grab more, even though pharmaceutical and tech companies have higher profit margins?

HINCHEY: Brian, ExxonMobil last year made $40 billion. Did they put any of that $40 billion...

SULLIVAN: Yes, and just sold all its retail gas stations because they weren't making any money on them.

HINCHEY: Did they put any of that $40 billion back in anything usable? No. They spent $32 billion buying back their own stock to put more money in their pockets.

It's time for you and others who look at this to understand and really, really express what's happening, what's really, truly happening.

SULLIVAN: Which is what, that car standards and domestic — and automobile gas mileage hasn't gone up at all since 1980, Republican or Democrat administration, that nothing's been done?

HINCHEY: No, we have — we have increased it last year, the first time — as I said, the first time in 32 years. We increased it last year. And we did so at the opposition of this administration and their cohorts here in the Congress. But, nevertheless, the president, under pressure, finally signed that bill.

So, we have increased energy efficiency standards, and we're still focusing on doing that more and more and more. We're also determined to get renewable energy, alternative energy. We have — we are dependent now on...


HINCHEY: ... foreign oil. We're importing 70 percent of the oil that we use. And we have here in our own country, both onshore and offshore, between 2 and 3 percent of the known global reserves. Obviously, we've got to do something else.

SULLIVAN: All right. Congressman...

HINCHEY: Use what we have available to us, use it intelligently.

SULLIVAN: All right. Well, it's a powerful fight. We appreciate you coming on the show.

Thank you very much, Congressman Maurice Hinchey of Upstate New York. Thank you very much, sir.

HINCHEY: Brian, I appreciate you. Thank you.

SULLIVAN: All right. Take care.

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