I am glad to hear the Minority Leader acknowledge we have an energy problem, but surely we can all agree that conservation alone is not the panacea.

What we require is a balance between conservation and production which puts us on a clear path to energy independence. This should be a goal of the entire Congress – that means both sides of the aisle.

Even as worldwide demand for petroleum has increased in the last decade, the growth in production has been relatively flat. The inevitable result is higher prices at the gasoline pump – which is exactly where we are today.

The reality is that it takes time to go from an oilfield to the gas station. And because of opinions like the Minority Leader, we have lost considerable time in this regard.

And his delay hurts Americans in their pocketbook.

In 1995 in the 104th Congress, H.R. 2491 would have allowed oil exploration in ANWR. The Department of Energy has estimated that between 1 and 1.3 million barrels of oil a day could be derived from this source.

Unfortunately, this legislation was vetoed by President Clinton.

That was over 10 years ago. And given a timeline of 7 to 14 years for building the pipeline structure, it is time that we could scarcely afford.

I have been to ANWR. The vast coastal plain is unsuitable for habitation during the summer months because of its marshy consistency. Any caribou unlucky enough to calve in this region would likely die from exsanguination at the hands of the mosquitoes there.

The people in ANWR are counting on this Congress to do the right thing and allow them, the rightful owners of these mineral rights, to begin developing the resources that are granted to them upon statehood in 1959.