VARNEY: Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Tim Murphy with me now.
Congressman, you heard what the president’s got to say, that we’re producing more oil now than we have in at any time in the last eight years and he wants to expand domestic production even more. Are you buying that?
REP. TIM MURPHY, R-PA.: No, I don’t believe it at all, because several years ago, four or five years ago when I introduced a bill to let’s say drill off our coasts, the Atlantic, Gulf and the Pacific, let’s use that money to create some jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, from that time on under Speaker Pelosi, when she said it would take five to 10 years before that oil to get to our pumps, let’s not do that, and now we’re hearing the same thing from President Obama.
Think of the words he said during the State of the Union address. He said he wants an all of the above energy policy. I don’t know what that means unless he means he wants all the gas pumps in America to be above $5 a gallon, because if we’re not producing oil not just on lands we have now — by the way, those all get tied up in lawsuits — but also developing off the coasts, we end up with huge problems when countries like Iran and other OPEC countries have political troubles.
The prices skyrocket. We’re not a major player in this as much as we can be. And we have to understand, you don’t drill for oil, you don’t produce enough gasoline, prices go up.
VARNEY: Well, we’re in a spike right now. There’s been a surge just in the last few days. The price of gasoline in California is an average of $4 a gallon. That will put enormous pressure on the president. Do you think he might bend a little and open some areas to drilling and maybe think again about the pipeline? Any possibility of a switch from President Obama now, with this pressure that’s on him?
MURPHY: I’m not sure, because you have to translate that $4 a gallon to being several hundred dollars a year for the average family. And if it goes up to $5 a gallon, you’re talking about over $1,000 a year for the average family.
Now, this is a president who said no to the Keystone pipeline even though it would bring a lot more oil to the U.S. and include 20 percent of the oil coming from Montana and Nebraska. He has said no repeatedly on that. I can’t manage he would change. But the political pressure is going to be high and it’s going to be coming from Main Street America, who is very concerned that they can’t afford to drive to work anymore.
VARNEY: It’s not just offshore drilling or domestic drilling or a pipeline.
There is also EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, regulations which have shut down some refineries. I am told that there’s a big refinery near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which could be shut in July given new Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Am I right there? It’s the EPA that’s a problem, as well as domestic drilling and the pipeline?
MURPHY: Well, the EPA is big of part of it when it comes to actually refining and creating unleaded gas. We’ll export diesel fuel and crude out of this country and we have to import unleaded gasoline, which of course adds to the price of it, adds to the volatility of it. It’s like driving 100 miles to go get a pack of chewing gum that you need, too.
It’s a lot of wasted money on transportation, all part of the big picture here. Let’s keep in mind too that as the president is talking about little changes, which I don’t think are happening, China’s increasing its demand over the next several years. India is increasing its demand. Huge — demands are growing around the world, and we’re not keeping up with them and we’re not using this as a mechanism to create jobs, which is also a big part of our concern.
VARNEY: You going to make this the big election issue?
MURPHY: It will be a big election issue and it has to be a big election issue.
It’s really about the survivability of the American middle class family in being able to drive their car to and from work, take their kids to soccer games, et cetera. We saw this erupt a few years ago and at that time the Democrat-controlled House wouldn’t move on that.
It’s important we have sent this bill over to the Senate, pass the bill, let us start opening up these areas. The effects won’t be — in terms of getting the oil to the gas pump, won’t be immediate, but I’ll tell you, it will indicate to the world that America means that we are really going to work toward energy independence and put some of this oil back on the market to help deal with prices.
VARNEY: Congressman Tim Murphy, Republican, Pennsylvania, thanks for joining us, sir. We appreciate it.
MURPHY: Thank you, Stuart.
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