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Conference Report on H.R. 6, Energy Policy Act of 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 6, ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 28, 2005)

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Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank our ranking member on our subcommittee for allowing me to speak for 3 minutes.

The comprehensive energy legislation is a positive step towards a stable energy future for America, and I want to thank all the Members who worked so hard in putting this together on such an aggressive schedule. I especially appreciate our ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell), of our full Committee of Energy and Commerce, and also our Chair of our subcommittee, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Boucher), for their hard work. I congratulate the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) on both his fairness in the committee mark-up and also in the floor action that we had. We actually made democracy work. But also I know the hard work as I watched a lot of conference committee on TV in the effort to get this legislation where it is today. I think it is a great achievement.

The folks who are opposing it, their biggest argument is we do not do anything about lowering oil prices. Well, the easiest thing we could do is actually produce more domestically instead of importing it from everywhere, but they are the same folks that are opposing any more domestic production.

This bill does so many good things. Energy infrastructure, the bill addresses the bureaucratic blocks that hamstring the growth of our energy infrastructure, particularly regarding natural gas terminals and pipelines. And I am pleased the conference committee has chosen to follow the blueprint of the Terry-Green LNG legislation we introduced last year that first recognized LNG as an international and interstate commerce and thus subject to ultimate Federal jurisdiction.

We need to open at least 10 to 15 liquefied natural gas terminals in the lower 48 in the next 5 to 10 years in order to stabilize our natural gas prices, both residential and commercial prices, and protect millions of our manufacturing jobs.

The petro-chemical industry is in dire need of stable natural gas feedstock prices as elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. Our community would end up looking like the Rust Belt. This committee report helps that.

Domestic production, I am disappointed, did not go far enough in domestic energy supplies. America's vast offshore energy resources remain largely off-limits even though our coast would not be threatened by development. Contrary to political scare tactics of certain organizations, oil and gas can be safely produced, whether it is Florida, California, or the east coast. We have been doing it off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for

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years. Lower 48 production uses pipelines and not tankers so the Valdez is not even an example they can use.

Mr. Speaker, the other concern I have is the loss of the MTBE issue, but I understand the Senate did not want to take it up. So I guess the folks who want to sue for MTBE can go to the courthouse. MTBE actually lowered our air pollution problems in my community in Houston. It was under the 1990 Clean Air Act. I would just hope businesses and communities would still continue to try to find another substances that would clean up our air.

In conclusion, I am concerned about ensuring that we have adequate traditional energy sources because we have to rely on them for the next few decades. I will support anything we do in research to get alternatives, but we also need to make sure we can keep our lights on for this decade.

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The comprehensive energy legislation is a positive step towards a stable energy future for America.

I want to thank all Members who have worked so hard on putting this together on such an aggressive schedule. This is a great achievement.

I. ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE

The bill addresses bureaucratic roadblocks that have hamstrung the growth of our energy infrastructure, particularly liquefied natural gas terminals and pipelines.

I am pleased that the conference committee has chosen to follow the blueprint of the Terry-Green LNG legislation we introduced 1 year ago. Our bill was the first to recognize that LNG is international and interstate commerce, and thus subject to ultimate Federal jurisdiction.

We need to open up 10-15 LNG terminals in the lower 48 States in the next 5-10 years in order to stabilize natural gas prices, residential and commercial electric prices, and protect millions of manufacturing jobs. The petrochemical industry is in dire need of stable natural gas feedstock prices, or else the Gulf Coast could end up like the Rust Belt.

This conference report ensures that ``not-in-my-backyard'' LNG opposition will not drive electric prices through the roof and drive manufacturing jobs overseas to Asia and Europe in search of affordable natural gas.

II. DOMESTIC PRODUCTION

I am disappointed that the legislation does not go nearly far enough to increase domestic energy supplies.

America's vast offshore energy resources remain largely off-limits, even through our coasts would not be threatened by development.

Contrary to the political scare tactics of certain organizations, oil and gas can be produced safely off of Florida, California, and the East Coast. Beaches and coastal areas in the lower 48 have no need to fear a Valdez-like accident from offshore production.

Lower 48 production uses pipelines, the safest form of transportation in the world, and will not mean more oil tankers.

In many decades of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, we have not had disasters that ruined any of the beaches or estuaries in Texas, Alabama, or Louisiana. Tourism at Texas beaches like Galveston and South Padre Island is a huge industry and we protect it seriously.

I challenge opponents of offshore production to name one serious oil spill that has harmed a Gulf beach or estuary.

Critics like to say that this bill is projected to do little to reduce gas prices that are squeezing Americans. That may be true in the short run, although if ANWR exploration is approved in the budget that will change. Ironically the real reason there is not enough gas price relief in this bill is the opponents of the bill themselves.

The best thing we can do to stabilize gas prices is produce more oil at home--we cannot wave a magic wand and lower the price of Middle Eastern oil.

III. MTB

I am also disappointed that the Senate is unwilling to help clean up MTBE spills from leaking underground storage tanks.

MTBE was developed to eliminate lead in gasoline, and by fulfilling the 1990 Clean Air Act's oxygenate requirement, MTBE has done much to reduce smog in American cities. Unfortunately, oxygenates are problematic when they are stored in leaky tanks.

MTBE producers, many of which are not huge oil companies, never would have made MTBE without the Clean Air Act of 1990.

In a catch-22, they now face multiple lawsuits for complying with federal law. As a result, U.S. industries are likely to be less willing to make environmentally beneficial products at the direction from Congress in the future.

This bill is a great first step and I support its final passage. However, America's energy policy is not complete and it will require more work for future Congresses.

IV. CONCLUSION

I am most concerned with ensuring we have adequate traditional energy resources, because we will have to rely on them for the next several decades. An abundant, clean energy future is possible, but it is still many, many years away.

But I want to note that this bill is balanced: it has important energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy incentives and requirements. We will have more solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, clean coal energy as a result of this legislation.

I urge a ``yes'' vote on the conference report.

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