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The Honorable Russ Feingold
United States Senator
For Immediate Release
Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
March 16, 2006
Good morning. I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member of both the full Committee and the Antitrust Subcommittee for holding this hearing. I remember from the February hearing on the topic of consolidation in the oil and gas industry, Mr. Chairman, that you were noticeably frustrated that certain industry representatives were not willing to attend, and I appreciate your resolve to follow through and hold today's hearing. I also appreciate your efforts, as indicated by the draft legislation you are circulating, to move forward to address what I believe is one of the underlying problems plaguing our consumers - consolidation in the oil and gas industry.
I also appreciate your giving the Attorney General from my home state of Wisconsin, Peg Lautenschlager, an opportunity to testify in Panel I. She has been working with her colleagues to consider factors behind the rise in natural gas prices and I hope that we will address the need for greater transparency in natural gas markets in the near future.
Today's hearing is vital to getting a grip on one of the most pressing problems facing our constituents every day. Consumers across the country face high gas costs and want to know why. To get them the answers they deserve, we must ask tough questions. I hope that today's hearing will conclude with us knowing more about any decisions to withhold supply, about tax breaks during times of record profits, about investments in alternatives, about environmental stewardship, and about opening more areas to drilling when those areas currently available for drilling aren't even being utilized. Each of these topics rightfully deserves its own hearing.
It is unfortunate that, as we hold this hearing, some of my colleagues continue an ill-advised effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. I hope that the Senate will instead focus on real solutions to our pressing energy needs and on heeding the President's advice about addressing our country's addiction to oil.