Manchin Announces Multi-Pronged, Commonsense Strategy to Fight High Gas Prices
**Footage, Audio Available**
Footage available here: http://gp1d.senate.gov/sdmc/Manchin/MANCH051111.mp4
Audio available here: manchin 051111.mp3
Washington, D.C —U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor outlining a multi-pronged, commonsense strategy to fight high gas prices. In his remarks, Manchin underscored the urgent need for Democrats and Republicans to work together on a comprehensive national energy plan that will relieve pain at the pump and enable America to achieve energy independence within a generation. Manchin also highlighted short-term solutions that he has endorsed to help immediately reduce skyrocketing gas prices that are crippling families in West Virginia and across the nation.
“The truth is that in states all across this nation, and particularly in West Virginia, countless families must drive to survive,” Senator Manchin said. “And for those families, a jump in gas prices isn’t just an irritation or an annoyance, it’s a threat that hits hard in the pocketbook and could change their way of life. We can no longer allow this nation and our hard-working families to be held hostage by high gas prices.”
Senator Manchin outlined several commonsense approaches the country needs to take in the short- and long-term to reduce the price at the pump for families and help increase the country’s security:
• Cracking Down on OPEC: Senator Manchin has cosponsored Senator Herb Kohl’s (D-Wisc.) bipartisan No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, which will finally allow the Department of Justice to bring action against foreign countries -- such as the members of OPEC -- for collusive practices in setting the price or limiting the production of oil.
• Combating Oil Speculators: In addition, Senator Manchin has encouraged the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to take aggressive steps in the short term to regulate and pursue the oil speculators who are driving the price of a gallon of gas through the ceiling.
• Reforming Oil Company Subsidies: In the speech, Senator Manchin strongly called for the need to reform oil company subsidies, saying that it makes no sense to continue to subsidize oil companies when the price of a barrel of oil is at its highest and oil company profits are at record highs.
• Promoting Alternative Fuels: Senator Manchin is cosponsoring the bipartisan American Alternative Fuels Act with Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming. This bill would break down barriers to alternative energy fuels, including those produced from coal, biomass, algae and waste. To that end, Senator Manchin broke ground at a cutting edge coal-to-gasoline plant in Mingo County, West Virginia – an example of a strong partnership between entrepreneurs and state and local governments to invest in alternative domestic resources now to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
• National Energy Plan: Finally, Senator Manchin said the single most important factor in ending our dependence on foreign oil is developing a national energy plan that uses all our domestic resources – and urged leaders in Congress to work together on this goal.
Excerpts from the speech are included below:
“I still vividly remember waiting in line for gas in the early 1970s, when gas was rationed based on our license plate numbers. For those of you who don’t remember that, it’s something that you’d never believe could happen in America. This all came about because we were dependent on foreign oil. In 1972, we were 28 percent dependent on foreign oil – which seemed like a huge number at the time. But today, we’re more than 50 percent dependent – a massive transfer of American wealth to countries that don’t like us and want to do us harm.
“We’ve seen this bad movie time and again, and yet somehow it seems that Washington keeps thinking that there will be a different ending. The right ending will only come when our nation makes it a high priority to achieve energy independence within this generation.”
“While crafting such a bold plan will be difficult, and the special interests who oppose using our own resources like coal, natural gas and oil in an environmentally responsible way will resist loudly, we can no longer allow this nation and our hard-working families to be held hostage by high gas prices. And we can no longer allow partisanship and politics to undermine the common ground that can be achieved if we work together with one goal in mind – true energy independence within this generation.”
“I believe we can do this, and I know we can, because just this week in beautiful Mingo County, West Virginia, my state took a major step to confront our gas prices head-on. On Monday, West Virginians said: ‘Enough is enough.’
“On a sunny morning in the town of Gilbert, West Virginia, I helped to break ground on a promising new project that could help bring down the crushing gas prices that our families are confronting. There, entrepreneurs and the state and local governments are partnering to create hundreds of jobs at a coal-to-gasoline plant that is at the forefront of any technology in the world.
“The anticipated production at this plant is impressive: It is projected to convert 7,500 tons of West Virginia coal into 756,000 gallons of premium gasoline each day, which can be used to run our cars and trucks – and even some of our military equipment. Over a four-year construction period, it’s estimated that 3,000 skilled trade workers will be employed. And when the plant is finished, it is expected to create 300 direct, full-time jobs with hundreds more ancillary jobs in the community.
“In West Virginia and Mingo County, the government is acting as a partner, not an obstacle, and that is the role our federal government should take going forward. This is exactly the kind of project that the federal government should work with us to make sure it succeeds – as our ally, not an adversary.”
“My state of West Virginia also proves that we can – and must – use all our domestic resources to break our cycle of dependence on foreign oil within this generation. It doesn’t matter whether your state has oil, coal, natural gas, geothermal, nuclear, biomass, wind, solar, or hydro – because we have to harness all the tremendous resources right here in America, or we’ll continue to rely on countries that have contributed directly or indirectly toward changing America for the worse.
“At the end of the day, it is going to take everything we can do and every resource we have to become truly independent. That is one of the many reasons why I am cosponsoring the American Alternative Fuels Act with my colleague John Barrasso from Wyoming. Among other things, the bill would break down barriers to alternative energy fuels including those from coal, biomass, algae and waste.
“There are other smart, targeted actions we can take in the short term to help reduce the price of gas for our families. I’ve signed on to an important piece of bipartisan legislation sponsored by my friend Senator Herb Kohl from Wisconsin – the No Oil Producing & Exporting Cartels Act – better known as NOPEC. The bill would finally allow the Department of Justice to go after foreign countries such as the members of OPEC for antitrust violations because of their price-fixing behavior.
“The other major issue we must address now is speculators and oil company subsidies. There’s no lack of oil on the market. This is not a supply issue. The real problem is the pure greed of some who are taking advantage of the instability in our world to line their pockets on the backs of American families.
“Or a tax policy that just doesn’t make sense, that continues to subsidize oil companies when the price of a barrel of oil is at its highest and the profits are at a record high. This doesn’t make any sense to the American people.
“Because we must do more to protect American families, I’ve also encouraged the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to take aggressive steps in the short term to regulate and pursue the oil speculators who are driving the price of a gallon of gas through the ceiling.
“While the most important thing our country can do is establish a national energy plan for independence, all of these actions are steps we can take to make sure we relieve the financial pressures on our families and help secure our nation.”
“I truly believe if we work together and focus on a commonsense approach...we can develop a strong bipartisan energy plan that will not only break the power of foreign oil countries and speculators, but will chart a new and promising energy future for this great nation.”
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