Madam Speaker, the price of gasoline goes up every day, and Congress is partially to blame. The price of crude oil is increasing because demand is increasing. Our domestic energy supply cannot meet that demand. The global demand for oil is also rising with the industrialization of China. And increased demand for oil leads to increased prices for many products, including products made out of plastic.
The problem is that Congress has made it difficult for our supply to meet that demand. There is a solution to the problem. The solution is to increase our supply by exploring domestic energy sources and drilling in ANWR.
Like it or not, crude oil is still the energy base of our Nation. Unlike every other country on the planet, the United States does not take advantage of its own natural resources. When Congress abolished tax credits for domestic exploration and production, Congress effectively abolished reasonable oil prices and then raised taxes on oil companies to $18 billion, taxes that are eventually passed on to us, the consumer. Thus, higher prices at the pump.
And this Congress decided to even award Venezuelan Dictator Chavez and his nationalized oil company with a large tax break, a tax break they did not give to American oil companies.
It's common knowledge that, if you tax something, you're going to get less of it. If you tax oil, you get less of it. Less of what? Less production and less crude oil. Less oil on the market equals higher prices at the pump. And if we look at the world crude oil reserves, 80 percent of the world crude oil is controlled by foreign nationalized oil companies. We call them OPEC. Six percent is controlled by Russian companies, and only six percent of the world oil reserves is controlled by American-owned oil companies. You know, those American-owned oil companies that are capitalistic, that have stockholders, we call them Americans. And those companies are making about 8 percent, 8 1/2 profit.
So the world is controlled by OPEC, not American oil companies. We may be the world power, but the United States does not control the world oil market.
The only control we have is over our domestic energy supply, which we don't take advantage of because of the U.S. restrictions on offshore drilling and exploration. We have succumbed to the environmental fear myth that we cannot drill safely offshore. Other nations, including Britain, Norway, Holland, and Denmark, take full advantage of their natural resources and even permit offshore drilling in the North Sea, that area of the world where offshore drilling is the most difficult, and they do it without environmental damage.
We can increase our energy supply and reduce the price of gasoline at the pump by also allowing drilling in ANWR.
On top of the heightened demand for crude oil, there is a heightened demand for new refineries. Madam Speaker, I represent 21 percent of the Nation's refineries in southeast Texas, but we don't have any new ones. The last oil refinery was built 32 years ago. Our oil refineries have been punished by bureaucracy and unnecessary Federal regulations. Too many unnecessary Federal regulations, too many government controls, too many high taxes, the second highest corporate income tax in the world, and what happens? They leave town, they go somewhere else. We must lift these burdens and encourage refinery development. Our gasoline prices will eventually drop as soon as we build new refineries and we drill offshore and we drill in ANWR.
The high prices of gasoline have thrown the airline industry into chaos. Twenty-two percent of the Nation's jet fuel is made in my district. But one example, Madam Speaker, it costs an airline company $44 a minute to allow a plane to idle on the runway. Thus, every plane that takes off that's been sitting there about 30 minutes costs $1,500 in additional oil prices.
The high gas prices even affect the 170,000 independently owned gas stations in the country. They no longer make a profit on selling fuel. They hope to make one cent on every gallon, so they are thrilled if they make that penny. They make money by selling lottery tickets, donuts and beer, that's how they make their profit.
It's time for us in Congress to encourage more domestic oil production, lift the restrictions to offshore drilling, and take care of ourselves. We must stop relying on unstable, volatile regions in the world and pompous dictators who hold Americans hostage with their crude oil.
We have a problem, but we can solve it. Otherwise, we'll be parking our vehicles on the side of the road, riding bicycles to work, then blissfully wondering where all the crude oil went.
And that's just the way it is.
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