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American Energy Act

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Location: Washington, DC


AMERICAN ENERGY ACT -- (House of Representatives - July 23, 2008)

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Mr. HALL of Texas. Dr. Gingrey, I thank you very much.

I rise today to talk about a bill that I introduced just today, this very day. And, yes, Dr. Gingrey is, I think, the fourth cosponsor on the bill. I have 40 or 45, somewhere in that area. Only four have failed to cosponsor it. They simply want copies of it, and they will cosponsor it. I didn't ask one single member of the Democratic Party to endorse it or to cosponsor it because I want to give them time to look at it, to talk to their Speaker, to see what she thinks about it. I don't want to put them in a bad situation with their Speaker. I hope she is going to accept this bill because I think all of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, want to solve the problem of high prices at the pump that are putting people out of business, that are costing jobs, that are causing airlines to fly full and losing money. And, yes, you have heard this before, a hundred and one times, that my bill's different. But this bill is different.

It's H.R. 6579. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about this bill just a little bit. It was just this day introduced toward affordable energy independence, and that's a word we have heard. Dr. Gingrey has been going over it here this evening. We hear it day in and day out. I hear it all the time when I go back to the Fourth District of Texas.

My bill is totally different from the multiple attempts to drill on ANWR. And just stay with me. I offer something different. I offer something that should appeal to anyone who believes in States' rights. This bill came to mind last week when I said to myself if we can't drill on ANWR, let's give it back to those who can. So stay with me. This is a little bit different. It's called the New Resources for Domestic Consumption Act. It transfers the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, called ANWR, to the State of Alaska. Give it back to them for their environmentally responsible work and exploration and development of oil that's to be explicitly used for domestic purposes or consumption only. By that I mean none of this is going outside the United States, and that's embodied in this bill.

According to the United States Geological Survey, there is an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil in ANWR, which equates to 25 years of Middle East imports that we have to rely on today. This would be one of the largest oil fields ever developed in the United States. This is the answer now and not 10 years from now. You hear it said, oh, we can't drill on ANWR and people are against drilling on ANWR. Many environmentalists who don't want us to drill on pristine ANWR say, oh, it would be 10 years before you would get any energy from them. That's just not true. That's not true at all. Let me just talk a little bit about it.

In addition to producing much-needed oil under this bill, the Federal Government will receive much-needed royalties if we give it back to Alaska. I'm saying transfer this by deed, transfer it back to Alaska, and let them make their own decisions about ANWR.

We have not been able to get a bill through, and there have been many bills tried. None of them have reached the President's desk except one. It reached Bill Clinton's desk 10, 11, or 12 years ago. He vetoed it or we might have some $2 gasoline today.

The Congressional Research Service has predicted that with oil at $145 a barrel, ANWR's 10.4 billion barrels would deliver $221.7 billion in corporate income taxes, not just wages, in corporate income taxes and royalty revenue to Uncle Sam.

So what's important about that? Well, I will tell you. This bill would mean more American dollars staying in the United States, not going to OPEC countries, and would result in more jobs for the entire country. A study from the National Defense Council Foundation says the figure could be as high as 1 million new jobs for Americans in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

A principal argument against it, let me talk about that for a minute. A principal argument against using oil from the Coastal Plain of ANWR to help bring down gasoline prices is that ``it will take 10 years to produce oil because it is on Federal Government land.''

Well, the State of Alaska has a lot better track record than almost anyone else I know about. In 10 years America's largest oil field at Prudhoe Bay, adjacent to ANWR, was discovered and developed, in 10 years. And the building of the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline that crosses two mountain ranges and many rivers was designed and constructed. The infrastructure is in place for expeditious and environmentally friendly development and production of oil, and the people of Alaska stand ready and willing to help, as they have helped in previous crises in American history.

The attack on Pearl Harbor spawned the construction of the Alaska Highway, a 1,522-mile-long highway stretch that was built in just 6 months in 1942. In the 1970s our Nation faced an energy crisis as a result of the Arab oil embargo, and in a close vote in the U.S. Senate, Congress finally approved construction of the Alaska Pipeline. Both times the people of Alaska stepped up to the plate on behalf of all Americans, and today we need their help once more. As a Texan in one of the producing States--ten States produce energy for this country and Texas is one of them--and as an American, I say let's not hold Alaskans hostage to congressional gridlock. Let's give it back to them.

Now, who's for giving it back to them? According to a Dittman Research Poll, more than 75 percent of the Alaskans support exploration and production, and these are people there on the ground in Alaska, on the Coastal Plain of ANWR.

As well, the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on June 23 of 2008, just several days ago, asking Congress to authorize development of oil and gas on the Coastal Plain of ANWR. More recently, Governor Palin issued this following statement:

``I strongly support environmentally responsible oil and gas development in the Coastal Plain of ANWR because production there would promote the economic and national security interests of the United States.''

She would know better than anybody, and she would have more say over who produced there and how they produced it and how environmentally perfect they were because she's there. She lives there. This is where they are.

``The decision on how best to accomplish this objective rests with Congress,'' she says. ``However,'' she says, ``I would support any reasonable approach, even including the possibility of State ownership of the Coastal Plain, to facilitate production.''

Governor Palin continued:

``The important thing is that Congress expeditiously authorize exploration and development in the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America. If Congress elects to transfer the Coastal Plain of ANWR to the State, I promise, on an expedited basis, to initiate a program to explore and develop the petroleum resources located there''--we have never had that promise before from anybody else--``subject to the safeguards,'' the safeguards that she is going to put in, ``designed to protect and preserve the natural resources of the Coastal Plain, including the fish and the wildlife.''

Now, who else is for this? Don Young was the second person to cosponsor this. He's the Congressman for all of Alaska. The two Senators are for it. I don't think there is any question that they will protect their own State.

Mr. Speaker, since the 96th Congress, there have been 19 votes on the House floor that pertained to allowing drilling in ANWR.

19 times on this floor this body has said yes, we want to drill on ANWR. And all of those times, except one time, when President Clinton vetoed it, it failed in the other body.

Votes in the House of Representatives on energy development within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are as follows, and these aren't all of them. I am just going to touch a few of them to let you know that we have been doing it a long, long time.

In 1979, in section 152, on a voice roll call, Udall-Anderson substitute for H.R. 39 adopted by the House, including provisions designating all of ANWR as a wilderness. H.R. 39 passed the House, 360-65.

Then on 11/12/1980 it was voice voted, a unanimous vote, Congress, of H.R. 39 passed the House.

In the 104th, in 1995, the House agreed 237-189, the conference report to H.R. 2491, reconciliation of a large bill that included the 1002 area development provisions. That is the ANWR development.

In 2001, the House passed the Sununu amendment to H.R. 4, to limit specified surface development of that same area in ANWR to a total of 2,000 acres, which we agreed, to which the Governor has indicated that all is the only amount she will take.

And yes, Dr. Gingrey told you a moment ago how really ridiculous it is to say that if you drill on 2,000 acres in 19 million acres, that that would ruin the beautiful pristine part of Alaska. That is outrageous. As he said, it is like putting a dollar bill in the end zone of Texas Stadium or in the Yankee baseball field, putting one in any part of the field and saying it ruins the whole baseball stadium or ruins the football field. It is just outrageous, it is not true, and it is almost silly.

In 2001, article 317, the House rejected the Markey-Johnson amendment to H.R. 4, to strike this 1002 area. That is the area we are wanting to develop. It was passed. They rejected Mr. Markey.

On 8/2 2002, H.R. 4, an omnibus energy bill, passed the House. Title V of Division F contained the 1002 area development provisions.

And again, in 2003, the House passed the Wilson amendment to H.R. 6, to limit certain features, but still to drill on the 1002 area.

Again, in 2003, again in November of 2003, the House passed a comprehensive energy bill.

And again, in 2005, the House adopted 218-214 the concurrent budget resolution, H. Con. Res. 95, which included spending targets that would be difficult to achieve unless ANWR development legislation was passed.

In 2005 the House rejected, again, the Markey amendments to strike the ANWR provision in its omnibus energy bill, again, saying we need to drill in ANWR.

Again, in 2005, the House passed an omnibus energy bill, and in 2005, in section 669, the House adopted the conference report on the defense appropriations bill which would have allowed oil and gas leasing in ANWR.

I could go on and on, but on 8/4/2007, the House rejected a motion to recommit H.R. 3221 to the Energy and Committee with instructions to report back with language authorizing ANWR development.

And then 5/14/2008, the House rejected a motion to instruct conferees for S. Con. Res. 70 to adjust budget levels to assure increased revenues from opening ANWR to development. That is 19 times I think that has happened. Not one of these votes has led to us letting an overwhelming number of Alaskans do what we have been asking them to do. Let's give it back to them.

I understand and agree with the desire and the need to maintain pristine environments in our great and vast country. But it is impossible for opposition groups to mislead, and it is irresponsible for them to mislead the public into thinking that the Coastal Plain is the wild and scenic area they would like to point to in photographs.

Let me show you, here is the wild and scenic area. Let me just show you this for a moment. This is the area that they are talking about, and it all looks just exactly like that. The truth is the Coastal Plain is just exactly what it says; it is plain. There are no trees or snow-capped mountains with streams running through them. This is what the Coastal Plain looks like right here. That is what they are talking about wanting to save. How many of you have ever seen it?

I doubt if there is anybody within the sound of my voice or reaching here that have seen that, have even been up there to see it. I have never been there. I bet there haven't been 10 people out of this Congress have ever seen ANWR.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is 19.2 million acres. The Coastal Plain is 1.5 million acres of that. And point to poster 2, right here it is. This is the wilderness right here. This is the little area that they have set out to send back to Alaska, and this is the area that there are no trees or no snow-covered mountains with streams running through them. The Coastal Plain, allowing the Alaskans to drill responsibly on the Coastal Plain in not going to ruin ANWR, nor will it ruin the experience of the average of 1,200 visitors a year to the refuge.

So I would just say to you, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. This is a different bill. There has never been a bill like this involving ANWR. And it will allow them to move through the legislative process and come to the House floor for a vote.

Actually, I tried to speak today to the Speaker. I have asked only Republicans to sign on to my bill. I have not asked a single Democrat to because I am not asking them to sign something that I think that their leader may object to.

I don't think she is going to object to it. Here is what I intend to do. I tried to see her today, but logically she had appointments. I went over and waited a while, but we were in session. I just missed her. She would have been courteous enough to give me a hearing if I could have waited for her. But I am going to talk to her again tomorrow. I want to impress upon her that this bill is different, that this is a different situation.

The President didn't set ANWR up for drilling when he encouraged us to do some drilling on some other areas. Neither of the aspirants for President have set up ANWR up.

Madam Speaker, you could be alone on this. You could be alone in giving back to the people of Alaska the right to protect themselves. They may not drill. You are not directing them to drill. You are authorizing them to drill.

I just hope very much that procrastination has cost Americans dearly at the gas pump. We can't afford to wait any longer. We have an emergency, we have a crisis, Americans need our help.

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