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Jeff Sessions, R-AL
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I thank my colleague for talking about the energy situation and the price of gasoline. I have traveled my State hard. I know Senator Enzi knows his State like the back of his hand. He goes to every place in it repeatedly and talks to average people. They are hurting.
Look at the numbers. In 1 year, over the last year, the average family drives 24,000 miles a year. The average family [Page: S6515]
is paying $105 a month more for gasoline for their automobiles than the previous year. You go back over, since 2003, it is $217. That is a new expense they never had before, and 60 percent of that money is sent abroad to purchase oil that we utilize because 60 percent of our fuel comes from abroad. It totals $500 to $700 billion in a
wealth transfer each year now. It is unbelievable. T. Boone Pickens said it is the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world and it is adversely affecting our economy, not just the fact that the family has less money now to take care of other needs. It has to go to gasoline so people can commute to work, in large part, I would submit, by the failure of this Congress to act.
I have been speaking on these issues ever since I came here. I have been pointing out the need for increased production consistently. We produce off my coast in Alabama substantial amounts, but 85 percent of our offshore production is now blocked.
We need to do this. We are talking about $105 more a month out of the family budget, so they can't purchase items with this money. It is rippling through the economy. It is not a ripple; it really is a tsunami.
Let me point out some of the things in recent magazines and recent newspaper articles. Here from the New York Times yesterday:
High fuel costs lead AirTran to cut 480 jobs. AirTran announced it would eliminate 480 pilot and flight attendants' jobs, joining a growing list
of airlines that have cut their workforces in the face of high fuel prices.
The cost of jet fuel has risen 92 percent this year, which is almost double in 1 year.
Here is the New York Times of July 8:
Markets decline even as oil pulls back a little bit.
The price dropped just a little.
Wall Street, which has been hurtling stocks lower for the past few weeks, remains fearful that consumers are trimming their spending to pay for gasoline. With consumer spending accounting for more than two-thirds of [U.S.] economic activity, a pullback would create big ripples.
Boy, I tell you, they are reducing spending; $105 less a month they have now to spend on other items because they are having to spend on it gasoline.
Here is the Wall Street Journal the day before yesterday:
Stock Drop Spooks Currency Investors: Oil Prices Still Key.
..... Janet Yellen [Federal Reserve Bank member], who made surprisingly worrisome comments about inflation.
``The continuing rise in oil and commodities has certainly raised the inflation risk.''
It is just every day. Does anybody not understand this? I have to tell you, I have to say, and I have spoken about this several times, I am utterly disappointed in my Democratic colleagues for having no plan whatsoever to deal with this problem. It is just not a plan. I am willing to discuss how we can work together. I am not wedded to every single issue, I would say. I am willing to consider anything that will work. But I will tell you that the Democratic leader made a speech down here, and
they offered a policy that proposes these things:
Tax the oil companies; that would make us feel better. It might even be a good policy to raise revenue, perhaps. But it is not going to increase oil production to tax the people who do it. When you tax something, you get less of it. People cannot pass a law to repeal the law of supply and demand. You tax it, you will get less of it.
No. 2, they want to prosecute, pass a law to empower the FTC to prosecute stations for price gouging. We already have a law that allows the FTC to do that. They say the gas stations are not prosecuting. They want to go prosecuting after speculators. Speculators are able to operate and be successful. I don't defend them. They are out to make a buck any way they can. They are able to do that because we have a demand for oil that is greater than supply. I think it is 86 million barrels of oil demand
a day at this point and 85 supply. So they are able to maneuver in that thing and play this game and make themselves some extra money. But if we got the supply up and our demand down, they wouldn't be able to do this. They couldn't do it when we had $10-a-barrel oil a decade or so ago.
They want to sue OPEC. OPEC, what do they do? OPEC meets to decide the amount of oil they want to produce essentially, and that creates the shortages that are driving up the price. Eighty percent-plus of the oil in the world today is not held by oil companies. It is held by nation states, many of them hostile to the United States. OPEC meets to set the price by controlling the supply. They are reducing and not producing the oil that they could if this was a real free market. They are manipulating
the market. OPEC meets to decide how much they are going to tax the consumers of the world and, in particular, how much they are going to tax us.
I have to tell you, it is a dramatic thing that is happening. I am told that it costs less than $10 a barrel to produce oil from the sands of Saudi Arabia. Yet they are selling it for $140 a barrel. This is the kind of wealth transfer that is damaging our economy. It is hurting this Nation. It is something we have to confront with real policies that will work, and there are some.
I happened to catch Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, on one of the morning talk shows not long ago. They were dealing with this question of Senator Obama and many of our colleagues here who say: Don't drill in Alaska; it might take 10 years. It wouldn't take quite that long, but they say 10 years. You shouldn't drill off the coast; that will take 10 years. Really, drilling off the coast, you begin to get production. They drill off my coast in Alabama right now, but there are other areas
with lots of reserves. It would take 3 years, 5 years to get production.
This is what Mr. Welch said. He said: It is amazing to me that a person who aspires to be the President of the United States would say he is not going to take a policy today that won't have an impact for 5 years. Think about it. He went on to say: A President should be thinking 5, 15, 30 years down the road. We need to be doing the things that serve our long-term national interest. Just because it would take some time to have this go forward, we should not delay taking action.
The matter is pretty serious. A Wall Street Journal article by Gerald Seib, executive editor, notes that there are three problems with the high prices of oil.
One is that, of course, it impacts the family budget. The second is that the high prices weaken our Nation's economic independence because we owe so much money for it. Thirdly, the money is enriching countries, many of which are hostile to the United States.
So I think we are at a point in time when we need to get together, Republicans and Democrats, and recognize that we face a problem that challenges our family budgets, that we have, in effect, taxed the American people, or allowed them to be taxed, by over $100 more a month in 1 year alone, that we can make a difference and bring those prices down--certainly stop the continuing increase. But we have to do something. There are things we can do.
I will say, as a person who has been able, a few times, to go fishing on the gulf coast, we go out and fish under oil rigs because that is a good place to fish, and it is clean and there is no oil out on the water. They are very careful about that.
We have approximately 51 billion barrels or more of recoverable reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. That is a lot. We use, as a nation, 5 billion barrels a year, and 3 billion of that is imported. If you replaced that 3 billion, that would be 17 years right there just from offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico. We have 85 percent of our reserves still blocked. We have had production that is still being effective off the coast of California before that was blocked. None has been expanded since,
in decades, and none, really, off the Atlantic coast. But there are reserves out there. States such as Virginia are talking about maybe that would be a good way to produce additional oil and serve the national interest.
We have the opportunity to produce oil from shale. There are 1.8 trillion barrels of oil in shale rock. Perhaps 800 billion of that is recoverable, experts tell us. We are using 5 billion a year, so that is 100 years or more from shale rock. I am told they can produce that at less than the current world price, keeping wealth at home, producing our energy at home, not sending that abroad.
I will tell you, one of the greatest potential breakthroughs that could help us with global warming emissions and [Page: S6516]
other areas is hybrid automobiles, particularly a plug-in hybrid. I strongly believe we should--my time is up.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have 1 additional moment.