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Public Statements

Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEFICIT REDUCTION OMNIBUS RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2005 -- (Senate - November 03, 2005)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 2358

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To strike the title relating to the establishment of an oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain)

Beginning on page 96, strike line 16 and all that follows through page 102, line 8.

Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I rise in support of my amendment that I think would reverse efforts to manipulate the budget resolution process to pass what I believe is a controversial energy policy. This policy is so controversial it doesn't even meet the bar for what I think is reasonable legislation. It couldn't even gain the 60 votes needed in this body.

I think it is important that we have a continued debate on drilling in Alaska that meets the environmental and permit processes that any drilling in America would have to meet. And that is not what we are discussing in the underlying bill.

My amendment is cosponsored by Senators Feingold, Dayton, Lieberman, Kerry, and others, and would prevent oil and gas exploration and drilling within the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I appreciate that this debate over the Arctic Refuge coastal plain has continued for more than 2 decades. I know the Presiding Officer and my other colleague from Alaska have spent many hours on this legislation. But this issue has continued to stir the passions of many and polarized communities across our country. That is because this debate is more than just about the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It is not simply about protecting one of America's last remaining great treasures. Rather, it is a debate that forces us to confront our priorities. It forces us to ask basic critical questions: Where do we go from here on the future of our energy policy? What inheritance do we want to leave our children from an environmental perspective?

We all must realize that God only granted the United States less than 3 percent of the world's remaining oil reserves and we as Americans need to do more with our own ingenuity to become less dependent on foreign oil.

Imagine a future where we don't turn a blind eye to oppressive regimes in the Middle East only because they happen to control the majority of the world's remaining oil reserves, or a future where Americans can drive hybrid or hydrogen-powered SUVs that get 40, 50, or even 100 miles per gallon. That is how we want to see our future. That is how we are going to save consumers who are being hurt at the gas pump today by these unbelievably high prices.

In the future we want Americans to have the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate this unique part of Alaska. That is why I believe the amendment I am offering today talks about our national priorities. That is why this is too important a question to slide into the budget bill. This bill circumvents the processes for permitting and environmental safeguards.

It is ironic that if this legislation passes we will actually be opening up drilling in a wildlife refuge with less protections than any other drilling in any other site in America. So instead of going to greater extremes to protect a particular wildlife refuge, we are going to have the weakest standard. The American people expect more.

I hope my colleagues appreciate that there are many flawed assumptions inherent in this drilling proposal. The simple act of putting a policy on a budget bill itself, I believe, is disingenuous.

But that is not all because section 401 will almost certainly never raise the $2.4 billion that drilling proponents claim it will. That is because the measure presumes to generate these funds by splitting revenues between Alaska and the Federal Government on an even 50-50 basis. But I think my colleagues might be surprised to learn that this 50-50 legislative language may not hold up in court. We just don't know right now. We do know the State of Alaska has long maintained it is due 90 percent of all the natural resource development revenue generated from Federal land within its boundaries, and we know this remains a controversial issue. Some have suggested this proposed 50-50 split in this legislation is merely a ploy to win passage. Some have suggested that once it passes, it will be followed by a court battle from the State of Alaska to force the Federal Government into a 90-10 split of revenue. So this $2.4 billion the United States might receive would be a much different picture.

My colleagues may be interested to know that even in June of this year, the Alaska legislature passed a joint resolution. It stated:

The Alaska legislature opposes any unilateral reduction in royalty revenue from exploration and development of the coastal plain of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and any attempts that could coerce the State of Alaska into accepting less than 90 percent of the oil, gas, and mineral royalties from Federal lands in Alaska that was promised at statehood.

That is something that was passed by the Alaska legislature, showing us they have every intention to fight for a 90-10 split.

Later this week I will also offer an amendment that will get at this issue of trying to guarantee a 50-50 revenue split. I hope my colleagues will be recorded on that amendment and show they truly intend to have a 50-50 split and that this not just a ploy in which later the revenue scheme is changed.

I am also concerned that many Senators may not support my amendment because they believe drilling in the refuge can be done in an environmentally benign way. They actually believe we should move forward because they think drilling in ANWR can be done in a way that is environmentally sensitive.

I think they are wrong. There is no real way to sugarcoat the fact that the oil company records on the adjacent Prudhoe Bay have been shameful. The facts speak for themselves.

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Prudhoe Bay oilfields and Trans-Alaska Pipeline have caused an average of 504 spills annually--annually--on the North Slope since 1996. Through last year, these spills included more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substances, most commonly diesel, crude oil, and hydraulic oil. It takes one spill to permanently destroy a section of this fragile arctic ecosystem. The people know this.

To quote an official from the North Slope city of Nuiqsut:

Development has increased the smog, haze, and is affecting the health and the beauty of our land, sea, and air.

I can only imagine how devastating that must be for someone whose culture and experience is so invested in the vast open spaces and abundant wildlife.

The news media has reported widely on these issues of oil spills. 2 weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal, and many other papers, have reported on some serious allegations. They have uncovered evidence that indicates there has been intentional dumping of untreated toxic mud, a dangerous contaminated byproduct common to Arctic drilling.

We have seen reports that the owner of an alpine field was forced to pay an $80,000 fine for releasing 215 tons of excess carbon monoxide annually. And, yes, this is the same field that some of my colleagues visited last March, along with the Secretaries of Energy and the Interior. Yet it is not the pristine area. There is already evidence of pollution in that area. This is the same field my visiting colleagues characterize as the cleanest in the world. And I note the Alpine field is just 8 miles from Nuiqsut.

I also want the American people to know that the tradeoff for destroying our Nation's last great wild frontier will not be relief from skyrocketing gas prices. Our sacrifice will do little to decrease our reliance on foreign oils from countries that don't have our best intentions in mind. Here is why. The Energy Department's latest analysis estimates that even when the refuge oil hits peak production 20 years from now, it will lower gas prices by just one penny. A penny, Mr. President. That is not an estimate that I have come up with, that is the Department of Energy's own estimate.

That is not very impressive considering the fact that the constituents in my State of Washington are now paying twice as much for a gallon of gas as they did just 3 years ago.

I also urge my colleagues to vote for an amendment that my colleague from Oregon plans to offer. This legislation would prevent any of this oil from going to foreign markets, such as China. Senator Wyden has pointed out to us and many others, including those in the State of Oregon, that there is no guarantee that the Arctic Refuge oil would ever be used in the United States.

So if my colleagues think if we pass this legislation that somehow it is going to help the United States in the crisis we are in now, the Department of Energy analysis of the very little effect and the fact that this oil will not be kept in the United States are two reasons to support my amendment instead.

Mr. President, the American people feel strongly about drilling in the refuge and other protected areas of our country. They want to know that the Senate is working to pass appropriate legislation that manages these unique areas in a forthright and open manner. Our Nation must continue to preserve and protect the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I understand that some of my colleagues believe it is appropriate to sacrifice this area for what will amount to about 6 months' oil supply, but I think all Senators today agree that these are questions that are not part of a budget policy. They are more fundamental about the discussions of what our national energy policy should be and the future of our country.

I hope my colleagues will also begin to finally start focusing on energy policies to diversify off fossil fuel, to recognize that God gave us only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves and that the best interest of the United States is to diversify off fossil and plan for a future that lowers gas prices, plan for a future that makes us more secure on an international basis.

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I am going to yield to my colleague, Senator Feingold. Before I do, I point out there is a misrepresentation that somehow drilling in ANWR only covers a small area. Drilling in the refuge will really create a spider web of industrial activities over the entire 1.5 million acre coastal plain, so it is much larger than just a small footprint.

This legislation might also open up nearly 100,000 acres of native land on the Arctic coastal plain. So it is a much bigger impact than my colleague might have commented on. I want to make sure that point is clear.

The other issue is, I don't think there is anybody in America who still believes our future and the future security of America depends on fossil fuel. I have seen the television commercials from the oil industry. Even they are always talking about the future, and alternative fuels, and what they are doing to diversify our nation's energy supplies. I certainly hope they hurry up and do that because the high price we are paying at the pump and their exorbitant profits are not leading us to a better economic situation in America.

But at the same time, I don't think Americans believe our investments in the future should be about fossil fuel, they should be about diversifying to cleaner, more fuel free supplies. Instead we are now asking them to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a very small amount of oil.

My colleague talked about a large number of jobs that may result from this. However, we have all heard the expectations for an energy economy of the future that invests in alternative fuels and various renewable energy sources. Some of those job investments can be more than 3 million jobs in America.

That is the energy economy that we want to see--not holding on to the past and exorbitant energy costs which the Department of Energy says is only going to give us a 1-penny reduction in gasoline prices--to get off fossil fuel.

I yield to my colleague from Wisconsin 7 minutes.

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Ms. CANTWELL. I thank the Senator.

I would like to go over what I think are the important reasons we should not drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and why my colleagues should support the Cantwell amendment to strike this language from the Budget Reconciliation Act.

As my colleagues have said earlier, we should not be doing this in the Budget Reconciliation Act, and it really does set a precedent for what I hope is not further attempts to drill in other parts of the United States, whether it is off the coast of Washington, the coast of Florida, or anywhere else by simply thinking you can come to the budget process and open up drilling in various parts of the United States.

It is a very dangerous precedent. It also lays aside very important environmental regulations that should be met by any drilling efforts in the United States. So here we are, about to allow drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and it is going to have the less protection than any other public land.

Let me go through the 10 reasons I think we should not be doing this.

First, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge does not solve our current gasoline or heating oil supply problems, and I guarantee you, my colleagues are going to hear a lot about home heating oil and other problems when they go home after we break for this year and people see their high heating bills and the enormous cost increases they are paying. So this is no solution for our immediate problem. In fact, even if oil were flowing today from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, who is to say that OPEC would not lower its supply and keep prices high? Moreover, the fact we are talking about something that is not going to happen for 7 to 12 years from now is clearly not going to help us in the near term.

Second, the oil supplies in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge are not going to help us be any less dependent on foreign oil. We already know that our biggest problem is that this country is 50 percent dependent on foreign oil, and moving forward in the next 15 years that dependency will grow to over 60 percent. To me, that says the way to get off fossil fuel and foreign consumption is to diversify, something this bill is certainly not doing.

The third issue is that we really do need to get off fossil fuel. So how are we going to do that? That answer is that we need to diversify into alternative fuels, such as Brazil and other countries have done, to look at a biofuels strategy and become more self-sufficient. The United States only sits on 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. To plan a strategy that continues to focus on this is just shortsighted.

Fourth, drilling in the Arctic will not translate into savings at the gas pump. Let me repeat that. It will not in the near term translate into savings at the gas pump. The Energy Department, its own energy information administration, said that even when the Arctic Wildlife Refuge oil supply is at peak production, it will only reduce gas prices by a penny a gallon. So we are going to open this pristine wilderness area for a penny a gallon 20 years from now.

Moreover, I believe it is important for my colleagues to get about the real debate and pass legislation that focuses on the price-gouging activities that could be occurring in America. Instead of passing this on a budget bill, why don't we bring up by unanimous consent or on some other piece of legislation a price-gouging bill that gives the Federal Government the same power that 23 States have in prosecuting oil companies or others who are involved in manipulating the price of gasoline at the pump? That is what we should take extraordinary measures in the Senate to do, not this.

Fifth, there is no guarantee that the oil from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will be used in the United States. My colleague, Senator Wyden, I am sure is going to talk more about this issue, but there is nothing under the current laws and regulations that is going to say that this oil is going to stay in the United States. So as my colleague from Illinois said, here is this product we are going to get from a wildlife refuge, and there is no guarantee that it is going to help our national security at all, that it won't be exported to the highest bidder.

Sixth, oil leasing in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will not bring significant revenues to the Federal Treasury as a certainty. Right now, there is a big debate. There is a debate between the State of Alaska and the Senate about how royalties from the Arctic Wildlife Refuge should be divided. The State of Alaska has been very clear. They think they get 90 percent of those royalties. This bill tries to say they are going to get 50 percent. We know the State of Alaska is going to pursue that in court. The difference is a lot of money. If Alaska is successful, that means they will get 90 percent of the revenue assumed by this budget bill. This proposal says that the United States might get $2.4 billion. The State of Alaska is saying: No, no, no, you are only going to get $480 million. The difference between $480 million and $2.4 billion is a lot of money, and I would like to see clarity that if this have to happen we are not going to move forward without the guarantee that, in fact, we are going to see 50 percent of that revenue.

Seventh, the oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as one of my colleagues said, is about giving the oil companies something more of profits. The notion that they have had $30 billion in profits in the last quarter--$30 billion in profits in the last quarter--and yet they are not helping to diversify at a time when it is very clear to the American people that being overdependent on foreign oil and fossil fuel in general is not the right direction for our country.

Eighth, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will harm its ecosystem. Wildlife is going to be harmed. The fact that people think these things can work together is amazing. We should consider the reason the Wildlife Refuge was established in the first place, because it is a unique area. There is a lot of drilling that goes on in Alaska and a lot of area that is consumed by this. The original designation of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge was for the purpose of preserving this area.

Ninth, drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge cannot be assumed to be environmentally benign. I know my colleagues would like to think that. But the fact is, in Prudhoe Bay and the oilfields of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, there have been 4,532 spills from 1996 to 2004. In fact, the current rate of reportable spills on the Alaska northern slope is about 1 every 18 hours.

My colleagues would like to say this can be done in an environmentally sensitive way or that the environment is not going to be impacted. I don't believe that is true. I believe the number of oil spills that have been reported show that is not the case.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to print in the RECORD a copy of the recent North Alaska oil company fines and penalties, the amount of money in penalties that have been paid by various companies over the last couple of years for either clean air violations or pipeline leak detections or other reasons for which various oil companies have been fined.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

North Slope, Alaska: Recent Oil Company Fines and Penalties

ENVIRONMENTAL

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, lastly, on these reasons why we should not move forward, is the notion that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a symbol of this country's desire to protect and preserve wildlife areas and that somehow people would like to assume that long-term damage has not already been done to other parts that have been opened up for drilling.

In fact, a Environmental News Service article that summarizes a 2003 National Academy of Sciences report that says for three decades of oil drilling on the Alaskan North Slope, while it has brought economic benefits, for sure, it has also caused lasting environmental damage ``and a mixture of positive and negative changes to that area.'' The report found that some environmental damages will last for centuries.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that this article be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
[From the Environmental News Service]

North Slope Report Fuels Alaska Drilling Debate

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I think it is known that the environmental damage to the region has been done, that leaks and clean air issues are prevalent in the area, that oil companies are being fined for those violations, and that we cannot just go about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and think we are solving our problems.

In fact, I would like to show my colleagues a copy of a map of what we are talking about. Here is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Here is the rest of northern Alaska. One can see the various designations of existing Federal and State leases. The active Federal leases are in yellow. This is the area under discussion. So all the rest of Alaska in this particular area--in yellow and red, and even in this beige, proposed Federal leasing plan--a lot of territory that is already involved in oil and gas production. Why not leave this last slice of Alaska's Northern coast alone and pristine?

A Washington resident, just to give my colleagues an idea, actually took some pictures of this area of the wildlife refuge. One can see it is a very pristine area with wildlife and streams running through it. We can imagine why someone wanted to preserve this area and why it is so important to the United States.

This happens to be, in my mind, a pretty infamous picture because when my colleague, Senator Boxer, and I were on the floor discussing this issue a few years ago, there was a copy of this picture that was at the Smithsonian, part of an exhibit done by a Washington photographer, a retired Boeing engineer who visited this area and took some pictures and had a public display at the Smithsonian. As soon as these pictures were used on the floor of the Senate, somehow his exhibit was sent to the basement of the Smithsonian and got a lot less attention because somehow, I guess, this picture portrays for the American people something some people didn't want to see or didn't want to have advertised so specifically.

Here is another picture of the area that depicts what an unbelievable, pristine resource this is for the United States. We can see how delicate the ecosystem of this region is and how challenging oil drilling activity in this region can be.

I say to my colleagues that I believe the American people, and certainly the news media around the country, have gotten the gist of what this debate is about because they have expressed their opinions about this as well. I think they have been right on track about this issue. I would like to talk about some of those opinions.

The Milwaukee Journal Newspaper said:

..... This effort may succeed, not because it's good public policy but because supporters are trying to sneak it into a budget reconciliation bill ..... supporters of good government should not allow that to happen.

That is one newspaper in the Midwest.

Another from the South, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

..... As always, drilling advocates are using distortions and half-truths, claiming that awarding extractive leases on protected lands will significantly reduce the Nation's dependence on imported oil while having minimal impact on the region's fragile ecology.

That from a newspaper in the South.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, another newspaper that has followed this issue. I thought they hit it right on the head in today's debate because they say:

Congress has wasted years trying to enact this single proposal when, by now, ingenuity and investment in technology could have developed better answers. Whether the United States drills in the Arctic Refuge or not, this country has no comprehensive plan to wean itself from oil. That's what's really needed.

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Ms. CANTWELL. If I can finish for a second, and then I will yield to the Senator to make his request.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a summation of what this debate is about. We have debated this for years, and the reason it has been contentious is because a lot of people have concerns about this direction and proposal. But now to do this on the budget where the environmental safeguards that are applied to other drilling, where the NEPA process and other safeguards are ignored, where we are not sure what oil revenue the United States is really going to get to recognize in this budget, when we don't know whether we are going to keep this oil for economic security reasons, I agree with the Sentinel which said:

The reconciliation bill should be used to settle budget matters, not to abuse the public's trust.

I will yield now to the Senator from North Dakota for his proposal.

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the RECORD a National Congress of American Indians resolution that states their opposition to opening up drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

The National Congress of American Indians Resolution #BIS-02-056

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Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, while I am waiting for some of my other colleagues to speak, I point out a couple of things about this process. I showed a chart earlier that Americans across the country, and certainly the news media covering this, say this budget process is not the way to go about the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. More importantly, there are issues that are precedent setting and raise concerns such as, do my colleagues want to debate the fact that they think 50 votes versus 60 votes is the way to do this policy?

As a Senator from a State that now has to endure a survey for drilling off the coast of Washington, off the coasts of Oregon and California--and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee has been discussing opening drilling off the coast of Florida--this policy in the underlying reconciliation bill is a very dangerous precedent. That is, that if you can go to a budget process and open up drilling, why can't you open up drilling in any other part of the country through this process?

I guess it is no surprise that the House of Representatives has actually already moved on legislation trying to open up drilling in other areas of the country. It is not a fantasy on my part that other Members of the other side of the aisle could be promoting drilling and could use a budget process for the same maneuver being used here. It sets a very bad precedent, a backdoor scheme.

Because what we are basically saying is that those oil interests are above the public interests, and they do not have to meet the same requirements. For example, the National Environmental Protection Act. I have heard a lot about Scoop Jackson today. My colleagues should remember who wrote the National Environmental Protection Act and got it passed. It was Senator Scoop Jackson. We are very proud of that. Why would we take NEPA and limit the alternatives that could be considered under this bill for proposal impacts to the environment? That is what it does. By throwing this language in the budget resolution instead of a normal process, we are limiting NEPA. We are limiting judicial review. Why should we limit judicial review? We do not do that in other areas of oil drilling, but for this more pristine of areas we will limit judicial review? All because we are doing it through the Budget process.

We will also be limiting the role of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Aren't they an integral part of planning for production in various parts of the country? Why can't current Bureau of Land Management regulations that provide for the Fish and Wildlife Service be used to provide for the protection of fish and wildlife? The answer is the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service are out of their normal role because we put this in the budget process.

What about compatibility? Why does this legislation assume that oil and gas activities cannot be undertaken in a manner compatible with the Arctic Wildlife Refuge?

Transportation. The chairman has removed consideration in this underlying bill authorizing oil and gas from the coastal regions, which is unusual language considering there is a whole range of issues, including pipelines, ports, and systems. Again, NEPA, judicial review, Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, transportation, and other compatibility issues are not being addressed because we are throwing this in the budget process.

What about the leasing provisions? I have talked a lot about this and I would love it if my colleagues from Alaska would support an amendment I plan to offer that specifies this cannot go forward until we verify that it is a 50-50 split or that it isn't going to go forward. This Senator would love to know that my colleagues from the other side of the aisle are so certain this is going to be a 50-50 revenue split that they are willing to support clarifying in the language that the actual opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge cannot go forward unless it is a 50-50 split. If they are so certain that is going to happen, they should be willing to support my amendment.

As far as the economic issues, I guarantee my State constituents know very well where their oil comes from. In fact, that has been the big complaint for a good part of the last 36 months, the fact that the FTC and other entities keep reminding the Northwest they are an isolated market getting oil from Alaska, yet our prices have gone up to over $3 a gallon.

My constituents, who are getting squeezed at the gas pump, want two things. They want us to have a price investigation and make sure that price gouging is not going on and do something to protect them. And, two, they want something that will bring true competition to the price of fossil fuels and help them in not facing high fuel costs in the future.

Even the Energy Department says it is not going to help my constituents. The Energy Department says in the peak years of production it would reduce prices a penny a gallon. I guarantee my constituents want more than a penny a gallon reduction in gas prices. They are not going to wait 20 years to get that. My constituents want to see real action on a price-gouging bill that we can push out of here that gives the authority to pursue the activities of record profits and make sure price gouging is not going on. They want us to get about diversifying the sources of energy we use.

Diversification will mean a lot to our economy. I can say high gas prices are costing our economy today plenty. If you want to talk about the airline industry, which has seen a 293-percent increase in fuel costs over a 5-year-period of time, yes, there are people in Washington State who are losing their jobs because of that. They want aggressive action today. They do not want to see 10 years from now 6 months of an oil supply that is not going to help them.

I want my constituents to understand a budget process that is a backdoor scheme that basically does not leave them any better off today or in the future than they are today is not a responsible solution to our energy needs. They want to see us truly come up with something that is going to get us diversified off our dependence on fossil fuels. With 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, the writing is on the wall. The United States needs to take a more aggressive action than drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I remind my colleagues what the Milwaukee Journal pointed out:

The reconciliation bill should be used to settle budget matters, not to abuse the public's trust.

That is what we are doing in this bill, trying to pass a wildlife refuge off as an oil field drilling opportunity when we are not addressing important issues. We are not addressing the environmental protections, the judicial review, fish and wildlife, the transportation issues, or the Native Alaskan issues.

We are setting down a very dangerous precedent. I don't want to see the same gimmick used for Washington State, for Florida, or other areas when this Senate thinks by sticking something in a reconciliation bill they can open up leasing of oil in the United States.

Some of my colleagues, I know, are going to talk about an important issue as part of this debate, whether this oil that is produced out of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge should remain in the United States. If this Senate believes this debate is about oil and making America more secure, getting off of our 50-percent dependence on foreign oil is what we need to do. To do that, most people will say we have to get off the fossil fuel consumption.

If my colleagues who want to support this amendment want to drill in Alaska, they ought to be willing to say the oil ought to stay in the United States. If you think it is part of our national security plan, then say it is part of our national security plan and keep it in the United States. I would go further to even say, why not create a refined product, like a jet fuel reserve, as they have in Europe? The Europeans figured out jet fuel is expensive. They have not only a strategic petroleum reserve, they have a jet fuel reserve. They figured out they do not want their airline industry subject to and their economy ruined by sudden price spikes.

I would go further than many of my colleagues in saying not only can the oil not be exported, let's put it in a specific reserve dedicated to a particular, important sector of our U.S. economy--transportation and aviation.

I look forward to my colleagues who, in committee, did not think it was such a great idea, who certainly thought that oil should be exported, who now say it shouldn't be. I am glad to see that change of opinion if that is what is going to happen in the Senate. This budget process is a backdoor end to opening a 6-month oil supply we will not see for 10 years and will not do a darned thing to help consumers now or when it is at peak production.

We shouldn't fool the American people by giving them false choices in what is not a solution, and false budget choices when we cannot even guarantee to them the $2.4 billion that is assumed in this budget.

The difference between Alaska winning and the United States winning on this debate is the difference between $2.4 billion and $480 million. So I hope my colleagues, besides looking at this export issue and saying this oil should stay in the United States, will also look at the commitment in saying that, yes, we only think this should be opened up if the United States actually gets $2.4 billion. Because otherwise this whole scheme is a matter of false choices, false budget choices, false security choices, and false choices for the consumer. In the end, Americans are still paying high energy prices.

Mr. President, while my colleagues sort out who is going to potentially offer a second-degree amendment, I will yield the floor to discuss with my colleagues that process.

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Ms. CANTWELL. I will make a couple of comments in closing as we sort out the last on the Wyden-Talent amendment. This budget reconciliation act, as it stands now, without the Cantwell amendment striking the ANWR language, is a false promise to the American people. It is a false promise that they are going to have cheaper gas prices now or significantly cheaper gas prices in the future. It is a false promise on the amount of revenue that is going to be raised in the budget. It is a false promise that somehow this can be done in an environmentally sensitive way and that the area we have called for so long the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge can be preserved as it is. It is a set of false promises, and the American people deserve better. They know this is a time in which our country should be making serious plans to diversify our overdependence on fossil fuel and change, and they certainly don't want environmental considerations that have been long the standard for oil drilling in America to be tossed aside by a budget resolution.

They certainly don't want the fact that there have been, as one organization, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said, 405 spills annually in the North Slope since 1996. They don't want to continue the trend in Prudhoe Bay and other Trans-Alaska Pipeline areas of causing 4,532 spills since 1996. The American people want to have responsible production moving forward that meets the standards that production in America has lived by. That is, by the same standards of the National Environmental Protection Act, judicial review, fish and wildlife, transportation issues, compatibility issue, protection of indigenous rights. They don't want a backdoor gimmick into helping the oil companies, who have already been making record profits, continue to make record profits on something that is going to offer very little for the American people.

I urge my colleagues to support the Cantwell amendment and to support the Wyden amendment when it comes up so we can be true to this issue and say we don't want to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge as a way to get out of our problems. We want to make an investment in the right process and have oil companies live by the environmental standards they are required to today.

With that, I yield the floor.

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