Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vice President Cheney on High Gas Prices

Vice President's Remarks to the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
White House transcript
June 11, 2008

...With crude oil already over 130 dollars a barrel and gas at four dollars, everyone in elected office ought to explain what solutions they have in mind for bringing the cost down, or at least slowing the trend. And if they're honest about it, they'll end up talking about increasing supply.

Twenty, forty, or fifty years from now, I'm pretty sure this country will have energy sources that are more diverse and environmentally sound than many of us can even imagine today. A good deal of credit will belong to President Bush for giving unprecedented support to developing alternative and renewable fuels, and the engine technology to use those fuels with high efficiency. These are tremendously promising fields. And the United States, driven by a combination of market forces, concern for the environment, and our own native ingenuity, has chosen to lead the way.

I'm also confident that our nation will find sensible ways to address long-term concerns about carbon emissions. President Bush has outlined the principles for a solution - an approach that offers reasonable incentives and gives strong support to technology research. The cap-and-tax legislation, however, that was debated in the Senate last week was exactly the wrong way to address carbon emissions.

That bill would have effectively increased taxes by about a trillion dollars over ten years, raised the price of gas and electricity, and killed manufacturing jobs, and all of this while having no significant effect on the climate. No fewer than ten Democratic senators wrote to their leaders to make clear they could not support final passage of the bill. On the Republican side, Senator Jim Inhofe and others rightfully insisted that the bill be debated in full. That was enough to put the bill on the path to defeat - and for that, I think all Americans can be grateful.

Meanwhile, in the here and now, we are an economy that runs on petroleum - some 20 million barrels of it a day. That can and will change over time, but it will be a very long time. It will not change overnight. We'd be doing the whole country a favor if more of that oil were produced here at home, with the money going into American pockets and supporting American jobs. Yet on Capitol Hill, many have ignored the obvious and have stood in the way of more domestic energy production. You can't even call them shortsighted, because they fail to see the immediate, day-to-day needs of the economy.

It's my own view that we should be drilling in ANWR in an environmentally responsible way, which could increase our daily domestic oil production by as much as a million barrels a day. As for other locations, George Will pointed out in his column the other day that oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida. But we're not doing it, the Chinese are, in cooperation with the Cuban government. Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply.

Yet Congress has said no to drilling in ANWR, no to drilling off the East Coast, no to drilling off the West Coast, no to drilling off Florida. Given the high prices Americans are now paying, we should hear no more complaining from politicians who've stood in the way of increasing energy production inside this country. They are part of the problem.

And it's not just crude oil or natural gas production that's being held up. We also have to import ever larger amounts of refined gasoline, because we don't have enough refining capacity to satisfy our own demands. We haven't built a new refinery in the United States in three decades. It's high time we did so. There's not a reason in the world that our gasoline should not be made right here in the United States, at American refineries, by American workers.

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