On average, U.S. families are paying a record $3.10 for regular gasoline, which is 72 cents more than the price at the beginning of the year. In Tennessee, the average price per gallon is $2.84 -- 111 percent higher than it was in 2001.
While the average Tennessean is paying more for gas, the oil companies are enjoying tremendous profits. The six largest oil companies announced $30 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2007, and they enjoyed a record $125 billion in profits in 2006. With those numbers, oil companies don't need any additional tax incentives to drill for oil. That's why I joined a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to repeal multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies and reinvest that money here at home in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
This is just one example of how Congress is working to take the country in a new direction on energy by working to bring down the cost of gas and make America more energy independent. The House is holding hearings on legislation that would help to crack down on price gouging. And in the coming days, House committees will continue to work to stabilize gas prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil both with alternative fuels and greater energy efficiency.
If we want America to enjoy continued security and prosperity, our country must have a more balanced energy policy that will promote conservation and maximize our domestic energy resources, including clean and renewable sources of energy. Our current dependence on foreign energy is dangerous, and it threatens our economic health, national security and ability to maintain our competitive position in the world.
As the Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am working to diversify and expand our domestic energy resources. That's why I have introduced legislation to make alternative fuels more available and to strengthen our commitment to energy research and development for the next generation of high-risk, high-reward energy technologies.
The federal government has a responsibility to lead our efforts to become more energy independent. In fact, Congress recently launched a Greening the Capitol initiative to set an example, and I have introduced legislation to ensure the federal government is a leader in energy efficiency.
Changing our energy policy clearly won't happen overnight, but we will have good results if we can develop better ways to get new energy technology to consumers. At $3.10 a gallon, we simply can't afford to rely on the old way of thinking.