Thompson Addresses Energy Affordability in Floor Remarks

November 19, 2014


"Mr. Speaker, according to the Energy Information Administration, today’s national average price for retail gasoline is $2.97.
This is lowest price since over a four year period beginning in October of 2010.
Gasoline prices have decreased by roughly 21 percent in the last six months alone.
One of the most prevalent factors in determining the price of gasoline at the pump is the international average of the cost of a barrel of crude oil.
Over the past week, the price of crude oil per barrel has hovered between $77.15 and $77.85.
These are the lowest per barrel prices since June of 2012 – just over two years - and a stark contrast to $145 per barrel in May of 2008.  
The Energy Information Administration has projected that gasoline prices at the pump will continue to decline in December to somewhere around $2.80 per gallon – and possibly even lower in 2015.
Additionally, U.S. natural gas prices are roughly $4.24, as production continues to flourish.

This is all welcomed news for consumers, businesses and the economy. From more affordable transportation, to heating our homes, from the food we consume, to the American manufacturing having lower costs – therefore being more competitive globally, lower energy costs are good for our economy overall.
There are many factors as to why gasoline prices fluctuate. They include international market trends, geo-political events, as well as weather and impacts upon refining capacity due to natural disasters.
While a downed economy has decreased annual demand for gasoline as the summer travel season comes to an end, the price decreases for gasoline can largely be attributed to an increase in domestic supply.
Especially with the ongoing recession, American energy production has thankfully increased in recent years.  
But while some in Washington would like to credit the Federal Government with the increased supply, the truth is that the vast majority of this production has occurred in spite of federal actions, not because of them.
The great majority of the production has occurred on private and state-owned lands, and has been the result of technological enhancements that have made shale gas and oil resources more attainable.  
Specifically, this increases in production stems from the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  
Pennsylvania, for example, is currently third in state production of natural gas. The commonwealth has produced 3.2 trillion cubic feet in 2013 alone.
Increased production has bolstered domestic energy supplies and directly led to historically low natural gas prices across the U.S. This comes on the heels of all time price highs in 2008 of about $12.  
Production in Pennsylvania has provided royalty payments to landowners, while contributing significant funds to counties.
Mr. Speaker, if private and state owned lands have changed the face of energy production and affordability in our country, the federal government would stand to gain by following suit.
This starts with opening up new areas of federal lands – both onshore and offshore – for the production of our national resources.
These resources belong to the people. There is no reason the administration should continue to play games with energy security.

Over the last four years, the House has made a priority of moving legislation that would increase our domestic energy production and supply.
Just this past September, the House passed H.R.2, which was a combination of 13 energy related bills. Among them is the Keystone XL pipeline; increasing the amount of permitted onshore and offshore lands for development, along with streamlining cumbersome energy permitting regulations.
The bill sets timelines for agency permitting decisions, would provide for more pipelines, and liquefied natural gas exports.
Many of these actions can be taken by the Executive branch, but the Administration has not acted.  
As we have witnessed in recent years, through the development of private lands, increasing our domestic energy supplies and encouraging American production will have a positive impact on energy prices here at home.  
The bottom line is the government can do much more to influence energy prices for American consumers and the time for the Administration to act is long overdue.
I yield back."