Interview With Pennsylvania Congressman John Peterson

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: Well, you don't see it too often, a liberal and a conservative teaming up to drill more.


REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D), HAWAII: We're saying that we don't have to sit back and be demoralized by the fact that we can't do anything. We can do something. And all we're asking for is a vote. That's all.

Everything on its face in this bill can — can be understood by everybody. We're going to have energy independence. We're going to stop sending the wealth of this country out of the country. We're going to invest in our own people.


SULLIVAN: And, ladies and gentlemen, that was the Democrat.

With us now, the other sponsor of that bill, Republican John Peterson of Pennsylvania. His Democratic colleague, who you just saw, was supposed to be with us, couldn't join us.

But it's OK, Congressman Peterson. We're glad you're with us.

I don't know if you could have heard Congressman Hinchey obviously saying we're not going after the land that we've got available now. There's other sides to the story. Why should we open up more land for drilling?

REP. JOHN PETERSON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Eighty-five percent of America's been locked up. Our primary sources, up and down the East and West Coast, and in much of the Gulf — or a large portion of the Gulf — has been locked up.

That is crazy. We — this country needs to open up offshore. We have huge reserves there. It's close to our refineries. It makes sense for America to not be 70 percent dependent on foreign oil. We can be independent in — somewhere down the road.

SULLIVAN: You know, now we know why nothing's getting done, because you've got Congressmen Hinchey saying we're not using the land that we have got; don't open up more. You're saying, we should open up everything.

How do you respond to his arguments that the oil companies aren't using the land that is already out there and available and leased?

PETERSON: The most productive areas we have are offshore and, in the Midwest, the shale oil. They're huge reserves. We need to be producing them now. There has been a prohibition on the shale oil in the West. The Outer Continental Shelf has been — 85 percent of it's been locked up for decades, for 27 years. It's time to open that up.

There's great reserves right offshore. And we need to be producing it. Americans are going to be paying higher and higher costs — we're not at the ledge yet — higher and higher costs for energy if we don't produce our own.

There's not a big — there used to be 10 million and 12 million surplus barrels per day. We're down to about a million extra barrels per day of production in the whole world. So, if anybody falters, there's not enough oil. Why...


SULLIVAN: And if we tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and have a severe problem, we're in big trouble, are we not?

PETERSON: That's right.


SULLIVAN: I mean, that's there as a rainy day fund. They want to tap it. If it's tapped and we have some kind of a problem, whatever that is, supply disruption — you can read between the lines — we're in big trouble.

PETERSON: Yes, the reserve is there for us for a long term. But it's time for America to produce its own. The American public, 70-some percent of Americans want us to produce our own energy. They're beginning to understand this issue.

We have huge resources offshore, in close and far out. And — and there's no reason that America shouldn't be producing a big share of its own energy. We are now 70 percent — as Mr. Hinchey said, 70 percent dependent on foreign oil. And that's growing 2 percent to 3 percent a year. This is — this makes no public policy sense. We're spending $700 billion a year, and a lot of that's going to foreign countries.

We should be producing our own energy. We have it in the West. We have it offshore. And it's time for — Americans don't want to be in bondage to the rest of the world.


PETERSON: They want fairer prices for their energy. We can bring down energy prices in this country. We can — we can stabilize them. There is no reason that America can't do a better job.

SULLIVAN: All right.

Congressman, we have got to leave it there. But I appreciate it. It's kind of sad. The only number everybody can seem to agree on is that we're importing 70 percent of our foreign oil.

So, hopefully, you guys will get something done. All right.

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