WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said the nation's energy strategy should include development of domestic energy resources and comprehensive agriculture policies encouraging global stability.
Senator Roberts made the remarks at an Agriculture Committee hearing entitled, AFundamentals and Farming: Evaluating High Gas Prices and How New Rules and Innovative Farming Can Help.
The witnesses included, Dr. Richard Newell, Administrator, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Mr. Dan Berkovitz, General Counsel, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Mr. Stanley R. Townsend, on behalf of the Kansas Farm Bureau, Townsend Farms, Weskan, KS, Mr. Jeff Broin, CEO and President, POET, Dr. Bruce Dale, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI.
The following are Senator Roberts' prepared remarks:
"Madame Chairwoman, thank you for holding today's hearing and to our witnesses for appearing before our committee to help provide insight on this important issue.
"In particular, I thank Stan Townsend from Weskan, KS for traveling all this way to give us a producer's perspective this morning.
"Stan and his family operate farm ground that has been in their family since 1875. He'll tell you more about their experiences later, but I think it's important for this committee to hear what he has to say.
"Madame Chairwoman, whether it's powering our homes, fueling farm equipment or filling up our cars at the pump, the price of energy directly impacts costs of goods and operating expenses for American producers.
"While this hearing will examine energy costs under the purview of our jurisdiction, it's important we don't overlook the main factor impacting gas prices - global supply and demand of crude oil. AWith roughly 70 percent of the price of gasoline and diesel contingent on the price of crude, it=s easy to understand that any fluctuations in global supply and demand of crude is the most important factor determining what consumers pay at the pump.
"As we can recall from 2008 and 2009, a weakened global economy drove down the demand of crude by almost 2 million barrels of oil per day...and prices bottomed out at roughly $30 per barrel.
"Increased demand and recent instability in the Middle East has again placed uncertainty on the global supply of crude.
"For too long, our country has been overly reliant on foreign supplies of petroleum. In my state, the oil and gas industry supports over 119,000 jobs and contributes $14 billion dollars annually to the Kansas Gross State Product. We must be careful not to pursue policies counter to this type of job creation.
"Earlier this month, while speaking in Brazil at a business summit, the President explained how the U.S. is eager to help expand Brazilian offshore oil development.
"It's unbelievable that with an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil reserves within the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, that the president would be offering up technology and support for competitors abroad all the while his administration stifles production at home.
"This committee does not have jurisdiction over the federal policies that play the largest role in energy prices but we can have a positive impact in three key areas.
"First, this committee oversees the CFTC, the "cop on the beat" in the futures markets. Mr. Berkovitz is here today to tell us how they monitor the markets while allowing liquidity to flow.
"Second, as Mr. Broin and Dr. Dale will tell us, agriculture is leading the way in the domestic production of alternative energy.
"Finally, and more fundamentally, U.S. producers like Mr. Townsend and his family contribute to global stability by supplying our nation and others with the low cost - high quality food and fiber necessary to survive.
"Global hunger leads to political instability. Many times that instability occurs in areas of the world from which we rely upon for oil production.
"The more the U.S. farmer and rancher can do to reduce global hunger, the less pain at the pump we'll all feel.
"Madam Chairwoman, it is my hope we all learn from these witnesses and begin moving forward with comprehensive agriculture and energy policies that help stabilize rising fuel prices."