Mr. Speaker, As gasoline prices soar to almost $4 a gallon, the American driving public wants Congress to do something about it, and it is our responsibility.

Where I live, I represent a good part of rural southeast Texas, and many of these individuals are rice farmers, and they work the land, and they can't afford the diesel for their pickup trucks and for their trucks to go and work at the refineries in southeast Texas. All people throughout the country have this same common issue: Why are gasoline prices so high? Why isn't Congress doing something about it?

Well, part of the reason is Congress, instead of exploring our own natural resources, Congress has decided to make the decision to punish energy consumption in this country and to make it more difficult for America to take care of Americans. Congress' policy is let's rely on OPEC; let's rely on that dictator Chavez and get their crude oil while we figure out something else to do on how to take care of ourselves down the road, but the problem is immediate, and we need to deal with it, and we can deal with it.

The first issue: Drilling for crude oil and natural gas. Now, because of Congress, we have made it impossible to drill offshore. This map of the United States shows two areas offshore. This blue area is down by Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. This area in the Gulf of Mexico is where we drill offshore, and we are glad to do that. That crude oil that we take from the Gulf of Mexico and distribute throughout the United States is good for America. But you see, Mr. Speaker, there is also more crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico by Florida. There is also crude oil over off the east coast. Mr. Speaker, there's also crude oil off the sacred coast of California, the west coast, but we don't drill over there. We don't drill in the Gulf of Mexico. We don't drill on the east coast. Why? Because of Congress.

So one thing we could do is lift the offshore drilling prohibitions, not the regulations, but the prohibitions. But because of the environmental fear lobby that is so strong in this Congress, we don't drill where there's crude oil or natural gas. Way up here, not even on the map, is a place called ANWR where there is nothing except crude oil, and we don't drill for crude oil in ANWR because of the environmental fear lobby and because of Congress.

Let's lift those restrictions and take care of ourselves rather than rely on foreign dictators and OPEC to get our crude oil.

Now, there is going to be another offshore drilling rig out in the Gulf of Mexico over here near this red zone, but it is not going to be built by Americans. Those rigs out there off the coast of Florida, about 48 miles, are going to be built by the Cubans, and it's financed by the Chinese. That's right. The Chinese and the Cubans are drilling where America ought to drill.

Doesn't that bother anybody? Lift the restrictions.

The second thing we need to do is have more refineries. I represent southeast Texas. We have the Nation's largest refinery and the second largest refinery. Down in the Sabine-Neches Waterway that borders Louisiana there are numerous refineries, but they're running at capacity because we haven't built a new refinery in this country in 30 years.

Why? The environmental fear lobby is prohibiting us from taking care of ourselves. So it doesn't do any good to produce more crude oil if we don't have the refinery capacity to produce gasoline and diesel fuel. So make it easier to have refineries in this country. We need to take care of ourselves.

I was somewhat embarrassed as an American citizen when our President, the most powerful person on Earth, had to go and ask OPEC last week to produce more crude oil so we could have gasoline. Of course, they in their arrogant way said, ``Well, we'll think about it. Maybe we will and maybe we won't.'' See, that is what is happening to our country. We are being held hostage because Congress will not let America take care of Americans.

Mr. Speaker, we need to produce the crude oil, the natural gas that we have. We need to even produce and to build more nuclear plants in this country. Right now, China is building nine nuclear plants, and they have 40 on the drawing boards. How many are we making? We're not making any because the environmental fear lobby will not let us build nuclear power plants in this country.

So how long is it going to take Congress to get the message that we need to reduce gasoline prices? One way to do that is to increase supply, and we can take care of ourselves. We are the only major power in the world that depends on other nations for our fuel and for our economy.

This ought not to be, but it is just the way it is.