Hearings and Business Meetings
October 27, 2005
SH-216 General Hearing Room 10:00 AM
Senator Pete V. Domenici
October 27th Hurricane Update Hearing
I want to thank Secretary Norton and Secretary Bodman for being with us today.
This hearing is the fourth hearing that this Committee has convened to discuss the impacts of the two devastating Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and the general energy state of the country.
The people of Florida have suffered again just this week with Hurricane Wilma. It has been a very difficult season.
There is a level of frustration with the energy industry due to high prices, record profits and a perceived lack of investment that has taken center stage in the public arena.
There is also a level of fear about energy supply shortages and transportation bottlenecks that will make this winter a particularly hard one.
Over and over the experts that this Committee has invited here have told us that there are no quick fixes to our energy challenges. All have stressed the need for conservation as our most effective short-term tool to deal with this winter’s crisis.
I am all for advocating, encouraging, and persuading Americans to take conscious steps to reduce energy consumption.
Lists of energy saving tips from multiple resources, like local utility companies to big oil companies, have been appearing on internet sites and in the media.
For example, lighting our homes can represent 20 percent of home electricity bills and is one of the easiest places to start saving energy.
If every household changed a light to an Energy Star one, together we'd save enough energy to light 7 million homes.
By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR for energy efficiency, a household can save more than $60 a year in energy costs.
On the transportation front, consumers can take steps to make the most of each gallon of gasoline. According to the American Petroleum Institute’s webpage:
• An engine tune-up can improve car fuel economy by an average of 1 mile per gallon.
• Under inflated tires can decrease fuel economy by up to 1 mile per gallon.
• Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can decrease fuel economy by up to 2 miles per gallon.
• The use of air conditioning can reduce fuel economy by as much as 2 miles per gallon under certain speeds and operating conditions.
I encourage consumers to take action - drive less when possible, replace an old furnace, keep your tires inflated properly, change a light bulb, or turn down your thermostat. If we all work together, conservation can be a very effective tool.
Conservation alone, however, will not solve all our problems.
Conservation is like a diet on our demand, but without sufficient supply our economy will end up too skinny.
I know one supply topic that several Members will want to talk about today is Lease Sale 181.
Currently only 1.47 million acres of this area are available for leasing. The remaining non-leased 4.43 million acres of Lease Sale 181 are NOT under moratoria, but we are not accessing available natural gas there.
There are an estimated 7.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the non-leased, non-moratorium portions of Lease 181. There are 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the non-leased, non-moratorium portions of Lease Sale 181 that are more than 100 miles from any state coastline.
I look forward to discussing this and other issues with Secretary Norton.
Likewise, I also look to talking to Secretary Bodman about issues like refinery expansion, boutique fuels proliferation, and the potential role of oil shale as a domestic resource.
And most importantly, we want to hear from both of you about how hurricane recovery efforts are going and what we can expect in the near and long term on the energy front.