7:51 PM EDT
Ron Kind, D-WI 3rd

Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. UDALL) for yielding me this time, and I rise in strong support of this alternative energy amendment.

In the past few months, gasoline prices have skyrocketed, with my western Wisconsin constituents paying nearly $1.90 per gallon for conventional gasoline, not the reformulated gasoline, but conventional gasoline. Unfortunately, many elected officials, from both sides of the political aisle, would rather play politics with this issue and blame someone else for the problem rather than work to find answers and fix the problem for the future.

Many of my colleagues claim that the current gasoline prices are the result of an inadequate national energy policy. To them, however, increased domestic drilling and greater reliance on oil seems to be the panacea for decreasing the rising prices at the pump. Other Members believe the big oil companies and refiners are gouging consumers with inflated gasoline prices, leading to a 512 percent profit margin for the oil industry in this year alone.

While the arguments of both parties may well have some merit, it is undeniable this Nation needs to invest more in renewable and alternative energy technologies that are more environmentally friendly. Wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower are important components in our Nation's energy mix. Unfortunately, between fiscal year 1973 and fiscal year 1995, renewable energy technologies accounted for approximately 10 percent of all Federal Government research and development spending. Private

sector energy R&D declined 42 percent between 1985 and 1994. In fact, it has continued, this downward decline.

Investments in efficient and renewable energy sources deliver value for taxpayers by lowering our energy demand while developing additional domestic energy sources that strengthen our national security, spur new high-tech jobs, boost world economic development, and help protect the environment.

My constituents are currently suffering from inordinately high gas prices. And while it is important that we find out the causes for the regional differentials in gas prices as they exist today, especially in the upper Midwest region, we must also use this opportunity to advance a proactive and more sustainable long-term energy policy so we are in more control of our own energy needs in the future. This amendment helps us get there, and I urge my colleagues to support it.