Mr. President, I just got back from my home state of Minnesota, and let me tell you, the price of gas is not just one of the issues that people are talking about, it is "the" issue that they are talking about. In this last week, as we all know, gas prices have risen above $4 a gallon as a national average, and the people in our country, many of them can't afford it. If you drive past a Costco store -- I am a Costco member, Mr. President -- if you drive past a Costco store, you see in the Twin Cities, you see cars lining and lining and lining the block trying to get in just to save a few pennies, just to save a few nickels, just to save some money.

Those gas lines remind you have the OPEC oil embargo that we haven't seen since the 1970's. And if you talk to people in the rural parts of our state, you'll be shocked -- at their out-of-pocket expenses. They have longer to drive to work.

With gas at $4 a gallon, some are waiting longer to go in the morning and get home at night. As you know from your home state of Colorado, there's not going to be mass transit. They need to drive longer to get to work.  Families cannot afford these prices. Just a few weeks ago, we saw stories in the paper saying that consumers weren't changing their driving patterns that they were comfortable with their commuting habits and they were willing to pay a few dollars extra each week.

Well, $4 gas has changed all that. 1 in 12 Americans now have found a new way to go to work because they can't afford week after week of these gas prices. And we need more mass transit. I support that. That's a good thing. But we know that for many Americans in the end, who have less income, who are dealing with the problems of increased health care costs, who are dealing with the problems -- dealing with the issues of increased costs of food and now these gas prices up at four bucks a gallon. When you've got less money in your pocket, when you've got less disposable income, it's harder for you to afford going up to a gas station and can only afford to fill half their tank with gas. We just can't afford to keep going.

And that's why I am so shocked when I’ve seen what the other side has done. Time and time again, same old arguments. Well, I’ll tell you this, these same old ideas, they are running on empty.   Just as the people in this country are running on empty, the other side, who has blocked consideration of some new ideas, a new way to go forward with energy, with some short-term and some long-term relief for the people of this country, I say this to my colleagues that voted against that bill, that voted against allowing us to debate, allowing us to move forward with a new energy future. They are running on empty and the American people know it.

Now, you remember back when president bush was asked about $4-a-gallon gas on February 28, the president said and I -- quote -- "you're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline.  That's interesting. I hadn't heard that." well, for the people in my state, $4 a gallon isn't interesting. It's a budget buster. The fact of the matter is that this administration failed to provide Americans with a meaningful energy policy that would provide relief from high gas and energy prices.  They've been running on empty.

This is why I am so frustrated that our colleagues blocked consideration of this important bill. We're not proposing anything radical here. We're simply asking that the government enforce the laws on the books and make the marketplace work like it's supposed to.

Like you, Mr. Presiding officer, I come from a prosecutor background. And I know you can have all of the laws on the books. But if you don't enforce them, you're not going to get the relief you need. You're not going to help victims, or in this case consumers, if there's no cops on the beat, no one is out there enforcing the laws, no one is out there drawing the line. As a first step of this important bill that the other side blocked us from even considering, from even debating, we want federal regulators to do their job, to crack down on speculation in the futures market and on speculators who trade in places in offshore exchanges just in order to avoid regulation. We want the attorney general to have the authority to prosecute collusion by foreign governments.

You heard the witnesses in recent month that's have come before multiple committees in congress. The CEO of the oil company who said, you know what? A barrel of oil shouldn't cost over $100. A barrel of oil should cost somewhere between $55 and $60. That's the true cost. You heard the witness in just recent months who described our energy markets as a giant gambling hall without rules, as a super highway without a traffic cop. That's what we're dealing with here. So we need a cop on the beat.

The Consumer First Energy Act gives us that cop on the beat. It addresses the problem of market speculation by stopping traders from routing transactions through offshore markets in order to get around the limits on speculation put in place by US regulators. Why would they go to these offshore markets? We know why they're going there. Because they want to avoid any regulation in this country. In fact, you don't even have to go offshore to find unregulated energy trading.

The Commodity Future Trading Commission is allowing the Dubai Exchange in New York and the Ice Electronic Exchange in Atlanta to trade in US oil futures without federal oversight. I can't tell my constituents to rest easy because the Dubai financial services authority is looking out for their interests. We need to take action not only by regulating these offshore markets but also by making sure what's going on in this country is right. And we close the Enron loophole. We tried doing that with the farm bill, Mr. President, but there is clearly a lot more that needs to be done.

There's a lot of speculation that's offshore and out of reach of our negotiators and our regulators. This bill will make those foreign trades in American oil and gasoline futures subject to reporting requirements so we can have a paper trail and keep track of what's going on. The bill would also require the commodity futures trading commission to increase the margin requirement for oil trades. The margin requirement is currently set by exchanges themselves. Kind of like the fox guarding the Henson house and they have set the requirements so low, 5% to 7% that speculators can buy an enormous amount of oil with only a small amount of cash. And this has caused a tremendous amount of volatility in the price of oil and gas.

Remember what the CEO of the oil company said. He said, no, no, no, this shouldn't be priced at over $100 a barrel. It should be at $55. Where is all of this money going?  Can I tell you where it is going? It is going to build five-star hotels in the middle of the desert. We have been investing in the sultans of Saudi Arabia instead of the farmers and workers in country where we should develop a long-term energy policy.

A final area where we can take immediate action is in our dealings with the OPEC nations. OPEC is a cartel of oil-producing countries that meet and decide how much oil to produce and thereby control prices. They make no pretense of having a free market system. They don't 0bey the laws of supply and demand. They gather together and set production which determines prices. As a former prosecutor, I call that kind of behavior collusion. And it is illegal in this country. But the members of OPEC are foreign governments and so far they have gotten away with it as oil exporting nations, the members of OPEC could provide us with some relief. They have the spare capacity to increase their production of oil and ease the pain being felt by people in this country but OPEC recently met and decided not to increase production until at least the fall after the summer driving season when prices always rise.

Not only that, Saudi Arabia has actually decreased production since 2005. Think about it. Our country spends $600,000 every minute on imported oil. That is money leaving the pockets of American consumers, American drivers, and going into the coffers of foreign countries. By refusing to step up production, OPEC nations are saying, we don't think prices are high enough yet. Let's let them go higher. Well, I think they are. This bill that was blocked by the other side is going to put a stop to some of this OPEC price setting by allowing the attorney general to bring enforcement actions against foreign government that's are  engaging in collusion and hold them to the same standards of fair dealing that we already have in place in this country.

So those are some short-term ideas in addition to the one that we were able to pass, which was to temporarily halt putting oil into the strategic petroleum reserves when the price is so I’m  we got that done. But these other things are even more  important to do something about what is called the gambling  hall when it comes to oil speculation, to do something about  price gouging, to do something about the OPEC nations. These are short-term things that are doable that the people in my state that are lining up in the cost he could lines went to see, once again, we were blocked by the other side. Our people are running on. They're tired of this and the other side is running on empty when it comes to ideas. We need a bold, new future. Long-term solutions. American consumers also expect that their corporations should invest sensibly for the long-term interests of our country and our economy. That's what works. That's how business works. Here's what's going on here.

This congress in the past few years, before I got here, gave a bunch of giveaways to the oil companies. I don't know, $17 billion?  Something like that. So we, the people, have a say in what these oil companies do when we're giving them a bunch of tax giveaways. The consumer first energy act imposes a windfall tax. It doesn't say that every oil company gets a windfall profit tax. We could say that given that they raked in $36 billion, the big oil companies in just the first three months of this year. But what it says is if you invest in renewables and you do what you're supposed to do, begin you've gotten the subsidies and you invest in the refining capacity, you do things like that you won't have the windfall profits tax. If you don't do that and you're taking the taxpayers' money and you're raking in the bucks and the prices are getting jacked up, then you're going to get a windfall profit tax.

Why should the big companies get $36 billion in the first three months, making no progress in terms of a long-term energy policy and then the consumers are paying over $4 a gallon at the tank? Makes no sense. Oil company profits since this administration took office are over $600 billion and counting. Now, you could make an argument that high profits -- if this money was being used to develop the resources, but it's not.

Time and time again we keep going backwards and not forward. So what this provision says, if you take the profits that you get from American families and businesses, and you reinvest them in the country's energy future, that's fine. If you don't, we're going to take a portion of your money and invest it and the farmers and workers of the Midwest instead of the oil cartels of the Mideast. We know what we need for a long-term energy policy, we need investments in hybrids, electric cars, we're not that far.  The Chevy Volt will give us 30 to 40-miles by plugging it in and it converts to fuels. And we have great advancements in biofuels, something that the presiding officer and I worked hard on, going to cellulosic ethanol, going beyond corn ethanol so we get energy from switch grass a residue from log. These are in the future. We have to put those incentives in place so that the investment follows and we have tried. We have done some things. But we need a bold energy direction in this country and that's what this bill was about. The other side blocked.

They're running on empty with ideas and the American consumers are running on empty with their tanks. When American families are facing the kind of economic squeeze that they're facing today, they expect action from our government. They expect that our government will protect their interests to make sure that the markets are fair and honest and transparent. They expect that their government is going to watch out for them. Not for the oil companies. We proposed legislation that would do these things. It would give the government the tools to protect consumers in the short term and it would begin to set our country on a smart, sustainable course for the long term toward energy independence.

You could put your head in the sand and pretend it's not happening or you can look for a new future. Does that involve, as our friends on the other side have been saying, some increased production in our country?  Of course it does. We live in Minnesota, right next to North Dakota where we're seeing a discovery of more oil. That's a piece of it. That's a piece it was. The other piece of this is looking to the future with renewables and biofuel and new kinds of technologies.

 If we keep going the old way and given the $17 billion to the oil companies and not investing in a new future, we're going to end up worse than where we are now and that is running on empty. It shouldn't take $4-a-gallon gas lean to bring us to the brink of -- gas lien to bring us to action to a smart long of this term energy policy. That's where we are. That's where we are. It is time to act. I implore my colleagues on the other side to not filibuster this bill. We must move ahead and we must do something for the American people. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.