Energy Supply, Energy Costs and the American Consumer
Room 1324 House Office Building, May 19th, 2005, 10:00a.m.
I submit this testimony on behalf of the 60 Plus Association, an 11-year-old senior citizen’s advocacy group. 60 Plus calls on some 4.5 million seniors nationally for support. Our seniors are concerned about their needs as well as that of their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.
60 Plus commends you for convening this important hearing focusing on the lack of adequate energy supplies and resulting high energy costs. 60 Plus respects the law of supply and demand. We know that if energy supplies are tight, seniors pay disproportionately more for everything: heating, cooling, transportation, drugs, food, hospital costs, etc. Any increase in the cost of energy is a regressive tax on seniors living on fixed incomes. The same is true for the urban poor.
60 Plus strongly supports the President’s repeated call for a comprehensive energy strategy. If Congress wants to help bring the cost of energy under our control, it should swiftly enact an energy bill that provides more incentives for production. The President recently proposed that we use abandoned military bases to build new refineries. There has been a recent announcement of the issuance of a permit for a new refinery in Yuma, Arizona. These efforts to help solve the problem of the availability of gas for our transportation needs deserve your strong support.
We need all forms of domestic energy that we can produce and this includes coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewables such as wind and hydroelectric power. But the real test is to do this at an economically affordable cost.
More than half of our electricity comes from coal and we’ve come a long, long way from the days of strip mining and abandoned sites that were not only eyesores but environmental disasters to where sound technology allows for energy exploration and production with minimal risk now to the ecology.
And you know, about the ecology: I was struck by the fact that President Bush’s energy recommendations in 2001, some 120 overall, contained more than 40 proposals dealing specifically with the environment.
You see, any limits to domestic exploration (whether offshore Florida, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or the mountain West) at a time when international supplies are so uncertain is not good for this country. We must wean ourselves from our dependence on foreign energy supplies.
Back in 1973 during the Arab oil embargo, then Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-AZ) appointed Congressman Roger Zion of Indiana, Chairman of the House Republican Task Force on Energy. Roger is Chairman of the 60 Plus Association at a hale and hearty 83 years young. Roger is a driving force at 60 Plus for keeping us on track with this problem of dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Back in his Presidency, Jimmy Carter once remarked that with oil imports at 37%, he stipulated that his goal was to see that this percentage did not rise another point. Well, 25 years later, it’s more than 57% and still rising. When does it stop?
With well over 80% of 60 Plus’ supporters being veterans of military service, I assure you many of them now consider a sound energy policy a matter of national security, especially following September 11, 2001 and the resultant war against terrorism our great country is presently engaged in.
Now, let me say something about those who would impede the important work of this Committee and this Nation. They go under the names of groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Friends of The Earth with the help of organizations like MoveOn.org. These feel-good activists, both nationally and internationally, have done a simply marvelous job at swaying public opinion and building walls and roadblocks that stymie the vitality of the energy industry. And by and large, they’ve done it all with smoke and mirrors! Under the guise of something called “global warming”, these anti-growth, anti-energy activists have placed an economic straight jacket and political handcuffs upon any country – but notably, the United States – that dares plan for tomorrow, dares plan for the well-being of our children and grandchildren with much needed domestic energy supply. They were effective in killing the future of nuclear power and are trying to do the same to coal. And for the most part, it’s not only my observation but the consideration of many in the scientific community far more intelligent than I, that it’s all being done by myth and unsupportable theory. The author Michael Crichton makes this case extremely well in his book “State of Fear”. I would commend this book to you because it is based on Dr. Crichton’s extensive bibliography and footnotes.
I’m convinced we can explore for fossil fuels like gas, coal and oil and do so as responsible stewards of the air that we all breathe, the water we drink and the land that we cherish.
I am convinced we can expand hydro and do so responsibly.
I am convinced we can expand nuclear energy and do so safely. As a matter of fact, I believe nuclear is key to the health of our planet. Nuclear has proven to be safe, reliable and abundant and yet we haven’t constructed a new facility in 30 years. You’d think an energy source such as nuclear would be embraced by the environmental activist community as it effectively replaces fossil fuels to satisfy energy demand…but no. There is a growing awareness even in Europe that there must be another generation of nuclear power.
For that matter, wouldn’t you think something as readily available as wind…admittedly less productive on a cost versus output basis…but everywhere around us and plentifully available…that commercially feasible wind power would pass the enviro’s test for suitable energy creation? Nope. Wind turbines kill birds and are rather unsightly so no, wind power must go, also. Some of the major proponents of wind power in the Congress come from the Northeast, yet we see staunch opposition in the MA delegation to the Cape Wind Farm off Cape Cod. This is not rational.
This sort of anti-supply bias has to stop for the good of seniors and consumers of all ages. This wonderful country of ours has abundant energy wherewithal, much of it renewable, some of it biodegradable.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can do something about higher residential energy bills, about higher gasoline costs, about the higher cost of food and the difficult choices that have to be made every day around our kitchen tables. Looking upstream, we can do something about lost manufacturing jobs, about farmers whose yields are lessened, companies that shutter their operations, about lost capital enterprise, diminished competitiveness and declining profitability here at home and all around the globe. But we must abandon sensationalism in favor of reasoned, informed energy progress predicated upon that which our country does best: market-driven solutions to solve problems and meet needs.
Our economy can run better, create more jobs, provide more revenue to meet social security needs and afford a better tomorrow for all of us…but we must pass comprehensive pro-supply energy legislation now. The time for action is now. Our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren deserve nothing less.
Thank you for the opportunity to have my say on these important matters.