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May 11, 2011

Gasoline Prices

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Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, it has been called to my attention that there are some people who are trying to respond to the fact that we have such high prices of gasoline at the pumps in a totally unrealistic way, in a way that is class warfare, in a way that doesn't make any sense to anyone, when we have a solution to this problem we have been talking about for a long period of time.

There are some who are trying to say we are going to have to do something about the subsidies that are given to oil companies, about what they have been doing over the years, and all of a sudden they are the ones who are responsible for the high price of gas at the pumps.

A CRS report was requested by my colleague, Lisa Murkowski, that grew out of frustration with the Democrats' refrain that ``America has only 3 percent of the global oil reserves.'' Therefore, under this view, more drilling and production at home is futile. As President Obama has said many times, ``with 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, the U.S. cannot drill its way to energy security.''

Well, it can, because it is not 3 percent. A CRS report came out later and showed--and this is something people don't want to believe, but it is out there and it is a fact--the United States of America has the largest recoverable reserves of oil, gas, and coal of any country in the world--more than China, Saudi Arabia, or anyone else. Our problem is a political one--this administration. It goes down Democratic and Republican lines. The Democrats put 83 percent of America's Federal lands off limits to drilling. Of course, that is fine for the administration, because they have made some statements, which I will read in a minute, to demonstrate clearly that they want to increase the price of gas at the pumps.

On the idea that you can do this through regulation and through trying to further tax the oil industry, CRS stated that tax changes outlined in the President's budget proposal--I am quoting from CRS, which everyone knows is completely nonpartisan--``would make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence.''

I was very proud of a couple of Democrats--the only two who were outspoken. Senator Landrieu, from Louisiana, said:

The administration has put forward draconian taxes on the oil and gas industry. ..... It seems very contrary to our stated goal of being more energy sufficient in the United States. Taxing this domestic industry will instead cut jobs and increase our dependence on foreign oil. So I want you to deliver that message again to the administration. We have bipartisan opposition to increasing taxes on this industry.

Senator Mark Begich from Alaska said:

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[The President's proposal] would cost thousands of jobs in Alaska and across the country. Energy companies are among the businesses investing and creating jobs at a time when our country needs both. I will fight any measure to end these incentives.

It should be obvious that without these two Democrats coming in--I appreciate the fact they did. We are not going to be able to reduce the price of oil at the pumps by further taxing the oil and gas industry. It is ludicrous to even think that anyone would suggest we could increase taxes on the oil industry and gas industry and somehow we are going to have energy more available and are going to reduce the cost of gas at the pump.

There is a way of doing this that I think is so simple. There is not a person in this country--certainly no one who serves in this body--who, back during his or her elementary education, did not learn about supply and demand. Here we are in the United States of America sitting on more gas and oil than any other country in the world, and we are the only country that does not exploit its own natural resources. We are the only country. If we did, we would be completely independent from the Middle East. We would not have to go outside this continent to supply our needs.

People say: If you do that, you start developing. Then it is going to take a long time. It is going to be maybe 8 or 10 years. That would be fine. They were saying that 8 or 10 years ago, and we could have done it then. That is not quite true because the economists have said that if we announce we are going to areas where we are not exploiting our resources--I am talking about the gulf, the east coast, the west coast, the North Slope in ANWR, Alaska. I am talking about the public lands where 83 percent of our public lands are off limits for drilling. If we were to announce today that we were going to open drilling and exploration and production in the United States of America, that price would drop tomorrow. It would drop immediately because people would know we are going to use our own resources.

I hate to say this, but somebody has to say it. We have an administration that is so wrapped up in saying that one of these days, we are going to have to have all this green energy, and they themselves are on record saying they want to increase the price of oil and gas.

Let's look at what happened.

Alan Krueger with the Department of Treasury said:

The administration believes that it is no longer sufficient to address our nation's energy needs by finding more fossil fuels.

The Obama Treasury Department said:

To the extent the lower tax rate encourages overproduction of oil and gas, it is detrimental to long-term energy security.

Therefore, we want to do away with oil and gas.

Here is the best one. President Obama's Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, said:

Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.

We have an administration that wants to increase the price of gasoline at the pumps to be comparable to Europe, which is between $7.50 and $8 a gallon. Obviously, people know this is true. It was not long ago that President Obama gave his energy speech. In his energy speech, he said there is all this abundance of clean gas we can use. Then at the end of the speech he said: But we have some problems in getting the gas out of the ground. He is talking about natural gas in this case, not about oil. I happened to give a response on one of the TV stations. He said he wants natural gas. At the same time, he says he wants to end hydraulic fracturing.

Let me tell my colleagues about hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing started in the State of Oklahoma, my State, in 1948. It is a way of pumping fluids and water primarily into these tight formations. These tight formations mostly are down about 1 mile to 2 to 3 miles under the surface. That will allow them to go in and get the gas. We have enough natural gas to take care of our needs for the next 100 years; we just need to use these systems. If we do away with hydraulic fracturing, then that means we are not going to be able to get any of the natural gas. We cannot produce 1 cubic foot of natural gas without using hydraulic fracturing. What did we find out last week? Secretary Chu is going to be in charge of a study to see how dangerous hydraulic fracturing is. This is the same guy who said that somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.

I will only say this. We actually have three problems. We have the problem of, we have this abundance of resources we are not going after, and hydraulic fracturing. Then keep in mind that what we get, we have to refine. That is where the EPA comes in.

I have stood at this podium for 9 years talking about the problems we have with cap and trade, the fact that we can't have a cap-and-trade system that is going to have the effect of costing the American people--the estimates are between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. That is supposedly for greenhouse gases.

We had the Kyoto treaty back in the nineties, and then they tried seven different times on the Senate floor to pass legislation that would have the same type of cap and trade we would have had if we had become a party to and ratified the Kyoto treaty. The problem with that is, even if there are people out there--and there are. A very large percentage of the people in America, some 40 percent, believe that somehow greenhouse gases are causing catastrophic global warming. Even if that were true, which it is not, but if it were true, it does not make any difference what we do in the United States of America.

I admire the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who was appointed by President Obama. Yes, she is way off in the leftwing. She is liberal and all of that. When you ask her a direct question, she gives an honest answer. She gave honest answers. I asked a question--I think at that time it was the Markey bill. It was one of the cap-and-trade bills. I said: In the event we were to pass a cap-and-trade bill in the United States, would that reduce emissions? Her response was, no, it will not, because that would only affect the United States of America.

That is not where the problem is. The problem is in India, Mexico, and China. Right now, China is cranking out two coal-fired generating plants every week. It is going to continue there. In fact, one could argue that it would even be more expensive or more polluting--if one calls CO

2 a pollution--because our jobs would go to places such as China where they do have this problem. They do not have any emissions control.

We have the problem of refining the gas once we get it. I see my good friend is on the floor and is going to be speaking perhaps to the same issue. I only want to mention one thing. With regard to the cap-and-trade agenda, since they are not able to get it passed, they are trying to do it through the Environmental Protection Agency through regulations.

Lion Oil, based in El Dorado, AR, recently testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that it commenced a $2 million expansion of its El Dorado refinery in 2007, with 2,000 construction jobs, but its completion has since been stalled. As Lion Oil vice president Steve Cousins explained:

The uncertainty and the potentiality of prohibitive costs associated with possible cap-and-trade legislation and EPA's greenhouse gas regulations were a critical factor leading us to delay the completion of the expansion.

What I am saying is, if we are--and I believe we are--going to break down this barrier and overcome this mentality that we should not be developing our own resources, then we also have to have a way of refining it. We can do it. It is within our reach. We can bring down the price of oil and gas and certainly gasoline at the pump by tomorrow. If we were to announce we were going to stop being the only country in the world that does not exploit its own resources, if we go after the oil and gas that is available in the gulf, the east coast, west coast, our public lands, as well as the North Slope of Alaska, we could be independent from any dependency on the Middle East. I believe the American people understand that point. It goes right back to our elementary school education. It is supply and demand. We have the supply in the United States of America. We have to open up that supply so we can use it, and obviously that would lower the price of gas at the pumps.

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I yield the floor.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Alabama.

Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Oklahoma for his leadership on the Environment and Public Works Committee. I am pleased to be back on that committee with him. I share very much the substance of his views about the need to produce more oil and gas. It keeps money in the United States, creates jobs in the United States, and creates tax revenues for the United States. Offshore oil and gas in our gulf produces billions of dollars for States and the Federal Government. Why we would want to produce oil and gas off Brazil and not produce it off our shore I do not know. I thank my colleague.

(Senate - May 10, 2011)

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