Spotlight on the House: Beyond Empty Promises and False Outrage on Energy

10/20/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tuesday, I voted for our nation's future. I voted to place America as the leader of the new energy revolution, the revolution that will ultimately free us from our dependency on oil. I supported the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act.

This legislation will increase domestic oil production, expand renewable energy, and end subsidies to big oil companies. The bill will also create millions of new "green" jobs, responsibly open additional areas for offshore drilling, and require oil companies to pay royalties owed to American taxpayers.

Although this bill leads us to a brighter future, it is not going to solve our energy crisis overnight. Politicians who tell you that drilling will immediately lower prices at the pump are not being straight with you. While facts often get lost in a debate governed by slogans such as "Drill Now, Pay Less" or "Drill, Baby, Drill," there are certain facts we must not forget.

First, no amount of extra drilling authority today is going to reduce gas prices in the immediate near term. The Energy Department admits we are looking at 10 to 15 years before we see the impact of offshore drilling on gas prices. Even then, the impact will be a reduction of 2 to 3 cents at the pump.

Second, the United States geographically only has 2-3% of the world's oil reserves. We consume 25% of the world's oil. Increasing our supply is not the solution. We can exhaust the oil reserves under our soil and off our coasts with little or no impact on the world market. We must also reduce our demand. Experts have been demanding an increase in fuel efficiency standards for decades. The Republican-led Congress refused to do so. This Congress has. The increased CAFE standards passed by Congress will reduce the demand -- and therefore the cost -- of gasoline long before the first offshore rig is even built.

Third, the rapid increase in oil prices that we observed over the summer -- from $90 a barrel to more than $140 a barrel -- was caused primarily by speculation.

The House also passed legislation, on Thursday, September 18th, to curb speculation in the oil market. This bill passed by a margin of 283-133. Again, it is speculation -- not economics -- that caused the rapid increase in oil prices and gas prices this summer. Curbing speculation will provide immediate relief.

Like most things in life, the solution to our nation's energy crisis is not black and white. The choice was never between drilling and inaction. The choice is between either continuing the Bush administration's policy of ONLY drilling or drilling AND investing in green technologies that put us on the path to energy independence.

Our country's dependence on oil is a threat to our national security, a hazard to our precious environment, and a burden to millions of hardworking Americans that are struggling to fill the tank. The American people deserve more than empty promises and false outrage. They deserve a smart, aggressive, responsible plan that actively puts our country on the path to true energy independence. By passing the Comprehensive American Energy and Consumer Protection Act this week, the Democratic Congress has put our country on that path.