Mr. Speaker, as gasoline prices soar, as our truckers are about to sit on the side of the road because they can't get enough money to buy fuel for those diesel trucks that they're driving up and down our highways to deliver goods, people are wondering, how did we get here?
Well, there are several reasons how we got in this mess, and Congress is partly to blame. First of all, we had this theory that ethanol is going to save us all, so we subsidized the production of ethanol. What that has done is drive food prices up around the world, because in the United States, instead of eating corn or letting it go to feed our beef, we're burning it in our vehicles, and that's caused world food prices to go up, not just in the United States but all over the world.
Costco and Sam's Club are now rationing rice. Who would have thought in this year, 2008, in America we can't buy rice because we're tilling up our soil and burning crops. We're also finding out that ethanol can't save us all because, promised to be a nonpollutant, that's wrong. Science Magazine has now reported that ethanol causes more pollution than that nasty old crude oil that we produce. There are a lot of reasons for that. One of those reasons is because it takes a lot of fertilizer to produce corn, and that fertilizer runs down the Mississippi River. And when it gets down in the Gulf of Mexico that nitrogen in the fertilizer kills everything, except algae, and that is called a dead zone. Dead, because nothing is there except algae.
So what we ought to do is quit the subsidies to ethanol. Let the world market handle whether we should use ethanol or not and stop those subsidies.
The second thing that's a problem but we don't talk much about is the value of the American dollar gets less and less on the world market. It's less this week than it was last week. Why? Because the Federal Reserve doesn't regulate the dollar. It regulates interest rates. Well, maybe that isn't just what the Constitution says. When in doubt, sometimes we ought to just read the Constitution. It says Congress has the responsibility "to coin money and regulate the value thereof." We have the responsibility to set the price on the dollar and we should do so. Stabilize the dollar so it doesn't cost us more to buy gasoline every week. That is our responsibility and we can't pass it off to someone else.
Third. The crude oil supply in the United States, which we still drive our cars based upon crude oil production, is getting less. It's an economic fact that third graders learn--the less supply you have, the higher rate of cost. And, of course, those oil companies that everybody wants to punish, the American oil companies only control 10 percent of the world market. Foreign countries, foreign dictators like Chavez down there in Venezuela and OPEC, they set the price on crude oil in the world, not American oil companies. So we need to take care of ourselves.
Now here's a map, Mr. Speaker. We drill off the coast of Texas, where I'm from, we drill off Louisiana and part of Mississippi and Alabama. But you see all these red zones here? Even off the sacred coast of California, there's crude oil out there and we can drill for crude oil but this Congress won't let us take care of ourselves. Why? Because the environmental lobby is so strong in this Congress that they have had fear tactics that prevent us from drilling here, off the east coast, and way up here in ANWR in Alaska. Open up the Outer Continental Shelf and start drilling.
You might be interested to know right here off of Florida, 47.5 miles, there's a new rig going out there and it's built by the Chinese and the Cubans because there's an oil field out there. But we won't drill there.
So we need to drill offshore. And we need to let our refineries produce more. They're producing all they can and because they can only produce so much, we're importing gasoline into this country for the first time, or one of the first times in our history.
We haven't built a new refinery in 30 years. Why? Silly environmental restrictions. Nobody wants pollution, but we need to get back to common sense and let our refineries refine.
Right here where I represent in southeast Texas, most of the refineries for this country are right there. Produces 22 percent of the Nation's jet fuel.
Now let's talk about jet fuel. This Congress passed a bill recently that says we cannot explore or take crude oil out of the tar sands in Canada. Canada is one of our biggest importers of crude oil.
Now what does that mean? That means because the crude oil is in the sand, we can't take it into the United States. Well, who uses that? The United States Air Force turns that into jet fuel. Doesn't anybody understand we're at war? Our airplanes need to be flying. But because of this Congress, they cannot import that. And now where are we going to get our jet fuel to fuel the Air Force? Silly restriction passed by this Congress. So let's remove that restriction as well.
Some people say, Well, let's tax those mean old oil companies. We'll show them. Also, we'll tax people to drive. Let me tell you something. That idea is to punish people who drive. Now where I live, down here in southeast Texas, we don't have any subways. Nobody rides a choo-choo train to work. The closest subway is in Dallas, 250 miles away. They drive pickup trucks because they work the land, they farm the land, and they can't buy the diesel fuel to run their trucks.
So here are some ideas, Mr. Speaker, that we ought to do and change the policy that this Congress has implemented.
And that's just the way it is.
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