PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT FOR EVERYONE ACT
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be recognized for up to 15 minutes as in morning business.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
HIGH GASOLINE PRICES
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I rise today as consumers in America-businesses and farmers and families-are facing gasoline prices at a record high. Prices for natural gas, which is used to heat our homes and workplaces, have gone through the roof.
In fact, I chair the Environment and Public Works Committee, and we had a hearing this week on the crisis we are facing, and that is our farmers are having to pay twice as much as they did 6 months ago because of the skyrocketing costs of natural gas. And all of this is due to the fact we have a lot of the far-left environmental groups trying to keep us from being able to produce more oil and gas, and it is a crisis. It is a crisis, as we pointed out in this committee hearing. Unfortunately, due to obstructionist tactics led by the radical environmental groups, bipartisan energy policy legislation continues to just be out of grasp of passage in the Congress.
Yesterday, those who are against domestic energy production and in favor of higher costing energy prices plaguing us today were given a boost by the presumptive Democrat for President who said in a speech in San Diego, CA:
We need a new direction on energy policy.
And went on to lay blame for the high cost of gas on the Bush administration, while attempting to put forth an energy plan of his own. Rather than advance a policy actually related to our Nation's energy needs and supplies, the Senator consistently suggested policies that would increase cost to consumers, that would consistently increase cost to businesses, that would consistently undermine our economy and force high-paying manufacturing jobs overseas. We have seen this taking place. It is taking place today. I heard our very eloquent junior Senator from Ohio talk about the number of jobs they have lost in the State of Ohio just for this reason.
His statements about the Bush administration are incorrect. One of the first proposals the Bush administration made was a comprehensive energy plan in 2001 that would increase domestic energy supplies and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
Congress took up legislation and incorporated many aspects of the President's plan, and I note that the Senator who finds it easier to criticize than do was nowhere to be found when the bipartisan Energy bill, H.R. 6, was debated and passed by the Senate by a vote of 84 to 14 on July 13, 2003.
It intrigues me that this issue is important enough for the Member to take time to discuss it out of his busy campaign schedule, but not important enough for him to be present and vote on the bipartisan legislation that was brought before this body. In fact, to my recollection, the junior Senator from Massachusetts, prior to yesterday, never once proposed comprehensive energy legislation during his 19 years in the Senate.
What we heard from San Diego yesterday was really less of an energy policy for the Nation and more of a checklist of how to increase energy costs to consumers. I am not surprised at that fact since it is clear from his voting record over the last many Congresses that affordable domestically produced energy was far from a priority of the Senator. His claim yesterday to aggressively develop domestic oil and gas supplies does not seem genuine to me as he has no specific plan to do so and has spent a lot of his time stopping us and this country from being able to explore such areas as ANWR and offshore that would allow us to be energy independent.
Let me be perfectly fair. This goes back a number of years. I can remember even back during the Reagan administration making talks about the fact at that time we were 35 percent dependent on foreign countries for our ability to fight a war. And yet now it is closer to 60 percent. So there we are only 2,000 acres of ANWR's Coastal Plain, about the size of Dulles Airport, for oil exploration and development; 2,000 acres that could provide the United States with enough oil to replace imports from Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years.
But actually, as the junior Senator from Massachusetts proposes to solve the energy crisis, for one he is going against his own advice and now calling for President Bush to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that would threaten our national security without any benefit.
We know from recent history that releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would have no impact on gasoline prices. On September 22, 2000, former President Clinton released 30 million barrels of oil from our strategic stockpiles. The effect, according to Energy Information Administration, was 1 penny savings per gallon of gasoline. So that does not work. It makes good conversation, it sounds good, but we know it does not work, and he knows it, too.
During that time, the junior Senator from Massachusetts stated himself that a release is not relevant. It would take months for the oil to get to the market, he said. Now he has flip-flopped and it is the cornerstone of an energy plan more about politics than meeting the real needs for American families and businesses.
Even experts such as the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Carter Energy Secretary James Schlesinger, and other top energy officials have warned for years that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should not be used as a market management scheme. It is there for national security. I think we all understand that.
Further, it is important to note while we have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve, we do not release our strategically held resources to fit political whims but should only do it to address a major supply disruption, such as political instability from a source nation, which is highly likely, and I think we understand that situation. The relative instability of supply nations is well known. Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve is our Nation's buffer, a safety net. The junior Senator from Massachusetts would have us squander our Nation's strategic reserves for his political gain, forcing our country into a far weaker position.
The presumptive Democrat nominee's call to release oil from our strategic reserves is also surprising to me because what he is really calling for is to increase our domestic supplies. Experts agree that one of the principal reasons that our Nation was able to weather the oil embargo of the 1970s was largely because new supplies were coming online from Prudhoe Bay, AK. Yet, as I said before, the Senator staunchly opposes developing oil from the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. The policy of the junior Senator from Massachusetts seems to be: Let us use our strategic reserves but not have any more oil to replenish them.
The Senator is also quick to praise himself for his foreign policy experience. Yet that experience must not have translated to the energy sector. Oil is a global commodity; therefore, the world market must be considered. What has happened in the global market? China's increased demand for oil has constrained world oil supplies which have only been exacerbated by OPEC's recent reduction restrictions.
We should also note that another key component of the Senator's plan to address our Nation's high gasoline prices is for the administration to get tough with or jawbone OPEC, the implication being that President Bush is not advocating America's interest, that he is too soft.
The foreign policy of the junior Senator from Massachusetts is interesting on this point. On one hand he criticized the President for not kowtowing to the United Nations and countries such as France in the war on terrorism and on the other hand suggests that the administration is too soft on oil-producing nations. You cannot have it both ways.
In addition, the Senator has been a supporter of drastic climate change legislation that would cripple our economy and legislation that would literally shut down powerplants in the United States, the outcome of which would send hundreds of thousands of American jobs overseas and seriously stress our supply of energy.
It was the Wharton Econometrics Survey that came out with the conclusion that if we signed on to the Kyoto Treaty, it would cost 1.4 million jobs-that is what we are talking about today: jobs-it would double the price of energy, it would cost an increase of 65 cents a gallon on gasoline, and it would cost the average family of four $2,700 a year. That is not Jim Inhofe talking; that is what came from the Wharton School of Economics.
In addition, the Senator has been a supporter of drastic climate change legislation that we have talked about that would be disastrous for this country. Again, since the Senator has not developed an energy policy before and failed to show up for the Energy bill vote, I must look to his words and not his actions to determine what is the intent of his energy policy.
The Senator's recommended energy and environmental policy seems to be tainted with an overriding intent to impose his utopian view of the future without any consideration on present reality at any cost. The junior Senator from Massachusetts makes nonhydropower renewable energy a cornerstone of his energy policy. Again, however, we must look to the Senator's words on the matter and not his deeds.
Last year's energy bill renewed a tax credit for wind and solar energy, a credit that expired on December 31. The Senator failed to show up for the crucial vote and the tax credit died. Prior to that vote, Randall Swisher of the American Wind Energy Association said: If the energy bill dies, extension of the wind production tax credit will also die for any time in the foreseeable future.
Swisher and many in the industry contend the credit is essential to maintaining their businesses. He said:
If we weren't in the bill, the credit that is the foundation of our industry was going to expire and with it our industry would expire.
So, yes, it was important for them to see the energy bill move forward. President Bush recognizes the valuable contribution renewables can play in our Nation's energy mix. The President dedicated $1.7 billion over 5 years to develop hydrogen fuel cells and related technologies. In 2005, in his budget, it includes $228 million for a hydrogen fuel initiative, an increase of $69 million, or 43 percent, over the 2004 funding to develop the technologies to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for the use of fuel cell vehicles, electricity generation, and other applications.
The 2005 budget proposes tax incentives totaling $4.1 billion through 2009 to spur the use of clean, renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies.
President Bush's plan invests in the future. He wisely recognizes nonhydropower renewable energy represents only about 1 percent of our Nation's energy mix.
The Senator, on the other hand, would mandate 20 percent of our Nation's electricity be generated with those very same renewable sources by 2020.
In 2003, DOE's Energy Information Administration concluded a 10-percent mandate could cost Americans more than $100 billion. However, the effect would likely be far more severe in certain regions of the country where "not in my backyard" and the risks seem to drive policy without regard to fixed and low-income residents.
The fact is wind energy, the most cost-effective renewable, is only effective when the wind blows. We already know where the rich elite stand on developing wind turbines off the coast of Cape Code in the Senator's home State of Massachusetts.
The presumptive Democrat nominee also supports legislation that would cap carbon dioxide under pollution-reducing bills as well as under the auspices of global climate change. Again, the Senator seeks to impose his utopian world view on people without bothering to consider our Nation's energy makeup, or more likely he is but does not seem to care.
Drastic carbon dioxide reduction strategies the Senator supports would effectively force coal out of use. I think we all understand that. Coal right now, whether the junior Senator from Massachusetts and his special interest radical supporters like it or not, makes up one-quarter of our country's energy mix.
Recently, it has been reported the junior Senator from Massachusetts supported a 50-cent per gallon tax on gasoline. The effects of such a tax on our country are obvious. However, I think it is important to note such a tax is another example of the Senator's overriding opposition to fossil fuels and his blind and unwavering support for nonhydropower renewables without regard to the state of our Nation's actual energy mix.
Nonhydropower renewable energy is a wonderful concept and with the administration's investments in developing technology, I am confident its use will increase considerably. However, today it is too costly, which leads me back to the Senator's overriding intent behind his suggested energy policies.
The presumptive Democrat nominee and his radical environmental group supporters also recognize renewables are not cost competitive compared with traditional energy sources today. Their answer: Embark on a strategy to make fossil fuel use so expensive and burdened with regulations that nonhydropower renewables suddenly become more cost effective by comparison.
Let's recap a few of the highlights of the recommendations of the junior Senator from Massachusetts. No. 1, empty the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. No. 2, do not produce domestic oil. No. 3, impose a tax on gasoline, some 50 cents a gallon. No. 4, impose a mandate increasing nonhydropower renewable energies from 1 percent to 20 percent in 15 years. No. 5, restrict carbon dioxide emissions, which translates to reducing U.S. economic production.
The Senator's energy policy is certainly bold, if nothing else. It is just that the Senator's utopian view of the future ignores our very real present.
Like his radical special interest supporters, the Senator's energy policies would increase costs on American consumers, disproportionately affect the low and fixed-income taxpayers, and drastically undermine the ability to compete in the global market.
If this were not a Presidential election year and we were asked to judge a man not on his words but on his actions, we would in large measure know what the Senator's energy policy would be: Do nothing but make speeches.
Some may scoff at what I am saying. We all know the Senator was too busy campaigning to do the job his constituents elected him to do and the job American taxpayers have paid him to do. Instead of actually doing some work and crafting an energy policy, the junior Senator from Massachusetts chooses to make outrageous allegations from the comfort of multimillion-dollar mansions in Beverly Hills.
I yield the floor.