Wicker American People Are Waiting For Gas Price Relief

August 4, 2008

Last week, the Senate and House voted to leave town for the month of August without permitting votes on measures to increase oil production here in America.  This amounts to a failure by Democratic leaders in Congress to address the number one issue facing our country: high gas prices.  The House adjourned with the chamber’s leaders still refusing members the right to offer amendments to increase American oil production.  The Senate also voted to adjourn without having a single up-or-down vote on increasing America’s energy supply.     

With gasoline costing nearly $4.00 per gallon all across the nation, the American people have clearly stated that they want Congress to act to address high gas prices.  I agree with the majority of those in Mississippi and across the country that believe it is past time for action to be taken to increase our domestic energy supply. 

In an effort to spur legislative action on gas prices, last month I wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.  I requested that the Senate not adjourn in August until balanced legislation was passed to address the pain people are feeling at the gas pump.  Unfortunately, despite a CNN survey released last week that found 69 percent of Americans are in favor of offshore drilling, Mr. Reid continued stonewalling a serious debate on energy that included multiple votes on measures to diversify our energy supply.

In what I believe is a fundamental misunderstanding of the energy problems we face, Congressional Democrats’ only response to record gas prices has been legislation to address oil speculators.  I agree we need to look into stopping unscrupulous oil speculators who may be artificially driving up the cost of gas, and have cosponsored legislation to do just that.  However, a speculator-only approach to our energy crisis is woefully inadequate.  As Warren Buffet, the storied and successful American businessman, recently said about the cost of gas: “It’s not speculation, it is supply and demand.  We don’t have excess capacity in the world anymore, and that’s what you’re seeing in oil prices.”   

                                 SUPPLY AND DEMAND
In order to adequately respond to our energy crisis, we must address both supply and demand.  It is important that we provide the research funding and incentives for alternative and renewable fuels, as well as promote increased fuel conservation, in order to help wean our country off its oil dependence.  In order to help our country stay competitive and strong during our transition to an economy that relies less on the combustion engine, however, we need to act now to increase production of our oil and natural gas reserves here at home.

I have consistently advocated utilizing more of our domestic energy resources.  Most recently, I helped introduce the Gas Price Reduction Act.  This legislation would open up our coastal waters to environmentally responsible oil exploration, would allow for the development of oil shale in the Rocky Mountain West, and would increase incentives for the development of plug-in electric cars and trucks to help lessen the demand for oil. 

                            BALANCED BILL NEEDED
The Gas Price Reduction Act is an example of the type of comprehensive approach that is needed to deal with the energy crisis our country is facing.  With worldwide oil demand only expected to increase in the future, a balanced approach that addresses both supply and demand is needed.  Congress needs to listen to the American people and take immediate action on wide-ranging legislation to address gas prices.