Today’s oversight hearing is to consider transportation fuels of the future. I am especially pleased to welcome two witnesses from the great state of Oklahoma – Mr. Jeffrey McDougall of JMA Energy out of Oklahoma City, and Jack Holmes of Syntroleum of Tulsa.
· With higher prices at the pump, and a greater reliance on foreign sources of oil, it is important for members of Congress to know what else is out there. This is not a new concept – the U.S. has sought to develop alternative approaches in the past, and should continue to do so.
· In a 1979 nationally televised speech, Former President Carter claimed that “the nation was facing a crisis that was the moral equivalent of war,” and instituted a number of market control programs that sent the economy into a tailspin. Twenty-five years later, we have hopefully learned something from those mistakes.
· Historically, the American people have chosen oil over other options for two important reasons. First, oil can be refined to meet the environmental requirements and automotive performance the public demands. Second, oil is the most affordable option. That said, the President and Congress have worked together to develop alternatives to supplement oil.
· Most recently, the Energy Bill established a renewable fuels standard. Currently, the EPA and affected industries are working toward implementation, and this Committee will ensure that happens. Also, this Committee included in the energy bill a new cellulosic ethanol loan guarantee program that could diversify biofuels use even more.
· Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues today would rather gloss over or even ignore the facts, and instead choose to make sensational populist statements that suggest similar economy-shrinking and price-increasing policies that helped to sink the country in the late 1970s.
· The fact is that oil can be explored for and produced in environmentally responsible ways, and refined into clean fuels. It can be done relatively cheaply.
· Although some members may think it politically beneficial or even fun to criticize and deride oil companies, I think it is incredibly short-sighted and exhibits a certain amount of arrogance on the part of Congress. Americans demand and deserve solutions and results, not bluster and hot air.
· My colleagues should think beyond the major national corporations. Small, independent oil and gas producers have played, and continue to play, a critical role in meeting our domestic needs. In fact, independents produce 68 percent of the nation’s oil. The independent producer is oftentimes a small businessman – more like a family farmer than ADM.
· And like agriculture, oil is the foundation on which several states were built, and has provided jobs for generations of people. Perhaps, this is most evident in my own state where some believe that oil made Oklahoma.
· I am excited to learn about developing syn-fuels technologies like Syntroleum’s coal-to-liquids demonstration plant. Some years ago, I looked at the national security benefits of deriving diesel and jet fuel from domestic coal and initiated a program at the Department of Defense. As long as it is price competitive, coal-to-liquids is something that we should be encouraging and doing.
· In my recent Chairman’s mark of the Gas PRICE Act, I broadened our concept of refining to include coal-to-liquids and renewable fuels. I put forward a plan that does not change environmental laws, one that is well-supported by a number of state and local groups.
· It is a shame that partisan rhetoric frustrated the advance of this reasonable and responsible legislation. I am hopeful that my friends will consider pro-economy, pro-jobs policy rather than a frightening return to the Carter-era approach that failed then, and will fail now.
· I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.