All can do their part to lower energy costs
Winter is right around the corner, and the price of oil and natural gas will continue to be hard on our nation's economy.
One reason gas prices are so high is because of supply and demand. Our need for oil has grown, and we simply do not make enough gasoline for ourselves. Every 10th gallon of gasoline comes from a foreign country, and I am not referring to crude oil from a tanker, this is gasoline from your service station. Amazingly, a new refinery has not been built in America in almost 30 years! Although demand has never stopped rising, we continue to rely on foreign supplies.
We are also too dependent on the Gulf Coast region. The two monster hurricanes that hit our region in the past two months have clearly demonstrated this vulnerability. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita temporarily shut down virtually all Gulf of Mexico oil production, resulting in the loss of 1 to 2 million barrels a day.
As a result of the soaring prices, oil and gas companies are enjoying record profits. In fact last week, Exxon Mobil posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, the largest in U.S. history. These companies must do more to bring down the cost of oil and natural gas, and I will continue to encourage them to invest in our national energy infrastructure and resources.
In addition to this call for corporate investment, Congress continues to work to bring these prices down. This month, we passed the Gasoline for America's Security (GAS) Act. This legislation encourages new refineries by helping to ease the regulatory road blocks involved with the construction of a refinery.
Additionally, it requires the president to designate potential refinery sites on federal lands, including at least three closed military installations. It promotes new pipelines, including the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, which would enable consumers to get crude oil at lower prices, and it outlaws price gouging in gasoline or diesel fuel sales in a post-disaster environment.
Our domestic resources of oil and natural gas must be made available. We must allow states to voluntarily develop its off shore resources. Increasing capacity and improving refineries will help boost supply, so we do not feel such a pinch in our pocketbooks.
As consumers, we can individually play a role in easing energy costs including lowering our thermostats, driving less, and carpooling. Speaker Hastert has called on all of us in the Capitol to switch off unnecessary lights, to unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use, and to turn off computers and monitors when they are not being used.
These are difficult times, but if we all do our part, we can ease the pain we are feeling from these high energy prices.
Vivian Malone Jones and Rosa Parks
I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about lives of two remarkable Alabama natives who forever changed America: Vivian Malone Jones and Rosa Parks.
Mobile native Vivian Malone Jones defied former Gov. George Wallace to become the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama.
It took a federal lawsuit to enable Mrs. Jones and fellow student James Hood to enroll in the university. The confrontation between the students and the governor, the “stand in the schoolhouse door,” is a scene forever etched in American history.
In those times of tension and hostility, Mrs. Jones was a remarkable woman, full of grace and enormous courage. She was in every way a worthy ambassador not only of the university but of all students who had been denied the right to enroll in so many schools across the country.
This month we also witnessed the passing of Rosa Parks, the mother of the modern civil rights movement and inspired generations of activists by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.
As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, Mrs. Parks's arrest was “an individual expression of a timeless longing for human dignity and freedom. She was planted there by her personal sense of dignity and self-respect. She was anchored to that seat by the accumulated indignities of days gone and the boundless aspirations of generations yet unborn.”
Last week Congress cleared the way for this civil rights pioneer to be the first woman to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. This tribute is usually reserved for presidents, soldiers and dignitaries. The Capitol Rotunda has been used for this honor only 28 times since 1852; the most recent was President Reagan in 2004.
We owe each of these pioneers a debt of gratitude. Their courage made America a better place.
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner represents the people of this area in the U.S. H ouse of Representatives.