Mr. President, it is now Thursday, and we have been debating the issue of speculation for several days. I believe that it's time to stop talking and it's time to vote to end speculation in the marketplace.

Now, there is an honest debate going on about our long-term energy policy, and one that I am glad we're having. We need to talk about the potential of expanding our domestic production, about new refineries. I live right next door to North Dakota. I see the potential there with the oil shale. And certainly, as T. Boone Pickens has been doing over the last few weeks, we need to lead the way with alternative energy, with wind and with solar, with putting the focus on hybrid and electric cars, with biofuels, like we've seen in Minnesota. We've seen a revival in our rural areas. We've seen it with wind. We're third in the nation in Minnesota with wind. We've seen it with the biodiesel biofuels. And I have seen firsthand the potential for this next energy revolution. And it is my belief that we should be investing in the farmers and the workers of the Midwest and not the oil cartels of the Mideast. And so I welcome this debate and I'm hopeful that we can get something done on that.

But let's look at the short term. Let's look at what the American people are facing now with $4 a gallon gasoline. They don't have right now the time or the patience to tell them, well, we're not going to get anything done on speculation, even though almost every Senator in this chamber has admitted that there's problems with speculation, that that is part of the problem. We may differ on how much of the part of the problem that is, but we know that it's part of the problem.

I believe our Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act will help to pop the oil speculation bubble. This bill has a number of provisions that will fight the kind of excessive speculation that drives up energy prices for hard-working American families. This bill will close the so-called London loophole. It will stop traders from routing transactions to offshore markets to get around limits on speculation put in place by U.S. regulators. The Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE, allows trading in American oil futures, gasoline and home heating oil, with far less stringent reporting requirements than what we have here at home.

It is no -- I can tell you, my constituents -- it is not a great thing to tell them, don't worry, Dubai or London will be taking care of you. They don't buy that, and they don't buy it for good reason. The way the world has worked now with the loopholes that have been brought in the middle of the night, with the Enron loophole -- I see Senator Feinstein from California who has worked so hard to close that loophole and move to the point where we can better regulate our energy futures. But we know there is more that we can do and that's what this bill contains.

This bill will make those foreign trades in American oil and gasoline subject to the same reporting requirements as trade made here at home, so we can stop a glut of overseas trade from driving up our energy prices.

This bill would also require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to review the letters of no action that it issued to the ICE electric exchange in Atlanta and the Dubai electronic exchange that operates and cooperates with Nynex in New York. With these no action letters, the CFTC gave these exchanges permission to operate in this country and trade in American energy futures with no oversight from U.S. regulators. Personally, I don't feel that it's good enough to say that the Dubai Financial Services Authority is looking out for my people and my state. We need to let speculators know that if they want to trade in American energy futures, they're going to be subject to American regulation.

The bill would also convene an international working group of financial market regulators to develop uniform reporting and regulatory standards in the major trading centers around the world to put an end to this problem of speculators shopping around for the country with the weakest regulations. We know the world has changed, and one of our jobs as members of the United States Senate is not to just put our heads in the sand and pretend the world hasn't changed. It has, and the laws must change with it. This bill would also require the CFTC to impose position limits on those who don't actually produce energy or receive delivery of energy commodities. So if you are an investor who buys and sells oil futures but you don't plan to ever take delivery of barrels of oil, this bill will limit how much you can buy and sell so you won't be distorting prices for your own personal game.  We know that there are some limits in place right now in American law, and this simply extends it to cover the situation that we see going on in the world today.

Last, this bill is going to give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission the funding authority to hire at least 100 full time employees so the commission can strengthen its regulations and improve its enforcement over the energy derivatives market. As a former prosecutor, I know, because I saw it before, you can pass all the laws you want but if you don't have the cops on the beat at the front line enforcing the law, you're not going to be able to get the job done. I heard the head of the CFTC testify before the Agriculture Committee, and I was actually surprised. As a prosecutor I thought, give me all the tools I need, and maybe I won’t use them, but I will have the tools. That's what this bill does.

We have heard from the other side of the aisle that speculation is not a major contributor to high oil prices. It is hard to imagine such a position, but our friends on the other side seem intent on finding some straw to hang on that just doesn't work. They are literally living in an evidence-free zone. Look at what has happened. Oil prices up 25 percent. The price of a gallon of gas up 25 percent in six months. It’s up a dollar, right? It’s 4 dollars. We know demand hasn’t gone up 25 percent. Have we seen some increase in worldwide demand? Yes. Demand in the United States is down, worldwide demand is up, but nowhere near up 25 percent. We know something is going on here and it is our duty, it is our job to adjust our laws to give this agency which enforces these laws the funding they need to do its job.

We saw this happen with the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Way up. Millions and millions of exports, at the same time their agency became a shadow of its former self. It is no surprise we had little foam balls supposed to inflate in water morph into date rape drugs. It’s no surprise that we had a little boy in Minneapolis die because he swallowed a toy that was 99% lead. The agency wasn't doing its job, and you have the same thing going on here. It's this Congress that has to step in and say let's get this agency the resources so it can do its job.

When oil prices jumped $16 in two days without events to drive them up, we can't go around saying speculation isn't having an impact. When the 12th largest company in the United States is filing bankruptcy after losing billions in oil trading, we can't go around saying speculation isn't having an impact. Even the acting chairman of this of the CFTC has stated that oil markets are right for those who are wanting to illegally manipulate the market. We had an expert before Congress that said that oil markets is the biggest gaming hall in America. We've had oil CEO's say oil shouldn’t be trading at over $100 a barrel, it should be trading at $55 or $60 a barrel.

And you know who's taking a hit on this? You know who's taking a hit on this? It's Americans across the country. They're taking a hit every time they go to fill up their gas tanks. There is no excuse for this Congress not to act on speculation. We're listening to the people of this country and we're hearing that this bill, this bill -- leader Reid's bill -- makes common sense to everyday Americans. Groups across the country that deal with high gas prices every day have come out in support of our efforts to top  the out-of-control speculation going on in our oil futures market. Groups from  National Farmers Union, the Teamsters, Air Transportation Association, Consumers for Competitive Choice, the airlines -- Northwest Airlines in Minnesota. This isn't exactly a partisan organization. It's a business,  and they have seen their profits go down. They have seen their routes go down, the number of planes they can fly go down, and unhappy customers. They have millions of airline customers that are writing in to do something on speculation, because this speculation is where the rubber hits the runway for the airlines in this country, and we must do something about it. Even the beer wholesalers have said they want to do something about it. I talked to one of their members last night, and they want to get something done. I can tell you when my friends across the aisle say that speculation has little to do with this, I use a good beer word. That is all foam and no beer. It is time to get something done. It is time to act on speculation.

In conclusion, the cost of energy is hurting Americans from all walks of life and businesses in every sector of our economy. We need to work hard, and I have been pushing for the last year and a half for a long-term energy policy. We need that bold energy policy to carry our nation forward. But we also need to do something now, today, not tomorrow, not next week, not in September. Let's pass this speculation bill and help the people of this country. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.