NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - July 31, 2008)
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Mr. ALLARD. Madam President, I wonder if I might ask the Senator from Kansas to yield because I would like to add additional remarks.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Yes.
Mr. ALLARD. I think the Senator from New Mexico, Mr. Domenici, has done a fabulous job with the energy issue, not just this year when it is fashionable--and this is the big issue--but he has devoted his whole legislative career to energy, making it available, how we can use research and technology to meet the energy needs of this country. He is recognized not only by me but nearly all Members of this Senate for his hard work on energy. We all should appreciate that work.
I join in the chorus of those who have congratulated Senator Domenici on a distinguished career. His dedication to energy--I cannot think of another subject one could pick up that would have more of a long-term impact on this country, whether we are talking about economic security, whether we are talking about military security, or whether we are just talking about a secure home where one can rely on utilities and everything to have a comfortable lifestyle in this country. The Senator needs to be recognized for that. It is a pleasure for me to do so, as I have served on several committees now with him. He is very articulate on this subject, and he does a great job.
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Mr. DOMENICI. Before I leave, I want to say to the Senator from Colorado, who is standing here patiently, that he might recall that the Senator from New Mexico went up and visited Colorado and Utah to see the oil shale before we had the big bill, where we put everything together.
Mr. ALLARD. I do remember.
Mr. DOMENICI. I was prompted to do that by you, to find out why we weren't doing anything with that shale. We found out that we didn't have any leasing laws that permitted it. I recall it was at your instigation that we put the first laws in the energy impact bill, the big bill, allowing leases for research and development. That is what has brought the development they are all worried about. It is a research and development lease.
Now they don't want to have any, as you put it, rules or regulations, so they can stop it dead after we got a good start. We understood that Shell Oil was ready to try a new process. They were going to spend more than a few billion dollars on it, and we found that out and said: Well, we ought to at least give them a chance. And we did, thanks to you. But now they won't let us vote on getting rid of the moratorium, so that is dead in the water too--that great big resource.
So I thank you.
Mr. ALLARD. Well, I thank the Senator from New Mexico for his gracious remarks and, again, it is a statement of his statesmanship to actually go and visit the site and find out what is going on. That is why he makes such a great legislator in the Senate.
I am with my colleagues. I am sick and tired of delays. It is time for us to move ahead. I have a chart: There have been six attempts by the Democrats to change the subject from $4-a-gallon gas, all while people are suffering at the gas pump and we are having dramatic adverse effects on our economy. We are getting ready for the school year, and school districts are struggling with how they are going to get fuel for the school buses. We have farmers and ranchers starting to put up their crops, and they are wondering how they are going to get money to pay for fuel, which is a major cost. It just doesn't balance out for us.
So I am very concerned that we have had these six attempts to move off of $4-a-gallon gas when it is such a vital issue. I can't think of another issue since I have been here that has had this profound an impact on people's lives. We shouldn't be delaying or stopping this matter.
There have been other subtle attempts on the other side, even if we move forward, to delay the development of energy, and let me cite a couple of examples.
One is the offshore drilling provisions, which we have in our Gas Price Reduction Act on the Republican side, where we look at the offshore drilling--the deep ocean drilling. We have had Members stand here on the Senate floor and say: Well, I am all in favor of that, but we haven't gone ahead and done the seismographic studies to figure out where our deposits are.
Well, we have been trying for years, mostly through Senator Domenici's efforts, to try to get the money to do the seismographic studies so we know how much and where those deposits are. But there is delay before we actually get to it.
So Members will stand up and say: Well, I am all for offshore drilling, but we need to do the studies. Well, they won't support the studies and the money to get it done. Let's take oil shale, for example. What we need to do is to put the regulations in place so that when the technology is developed and we are ready to move forward with development, we can do that in a phased process. But, no, we are not going to let the regulations go forward, which ends up being an additional delay when the technology is ready to go.
So I am hoping--and I want to thank the Senator from New Hampshire, who had proposed the amendment I had made in the Appropriations Committee a little earlier this afternoon--it was objected to on the floor--where we said, let's move ahead with rules and regulations. Then in the amendment it says that we will delay development until 2011 because the technology for development won't be in place any sooner than that. So that was acceptable. The Department of the Interior has got the rules and regulations. They are out there for public comment, but that is all the further they can go.
If we continue what we have been doing year after year, we have stopped the development of oil shale dead in its tracks. Even worse than that, when it is ready for development, we will have delayed it that much more because we haven't done the things up front that will allow the oil companies to begin to look at what their lease agreements might be, as the Senator mentioned from his visit, or what the royalty payments might be or what the remediation issues may be when they move in with oil shale.
I happen to think the technology we are developing in Colorado is environmentally friendly, and it is not a mining operation. You freeze out an area of the ground, you heat out the middle of it, and you get a high-quality fuel out of there which will help us meet our energy needs. The hydrocarbons we get out of the ground, I think all of us realize these are nonrenewable resources. At some point in time, we are going to have to do something else other than just rely on those. But right now they are the bridge. They are our bridge to renewable energies.
I have heard comments on the Senate floor against the Republicans; that all we are interested in is drill, drill, drill. Republicans, to a person, believe that we need to use our hydrocarbons to bridge, and they understand we need the new technology. We are not saying exclude anything. On the other side they are saying: We will just go with renewables. We will let $4 a gallon stand. Who cares. Let it go to $5. Let it keep going to $7.50, even to $10 a gallon. We don't care because the high cost of gasoline will encourage conservation.
I think there are other ways we can encourage conservation, and I think a lot of it is happening today. But that is certainly not the way to do it because it has such a dramatic adverse impact on our economy, and it has an adverse impact on the security of this country.
Both my colleague from Kansas and New Mexico talked about how all of our dollars are going overseas, more than $700 billion a year going overseas to support the economies of our adversaries. They are the ones who don't support what we are trying to do: to spread democracy around the world. They would like to see us go away.
So I think we need to take a serious look at our alternative energies, and we need to act now to do something to increase hydrocarbons and do something to reduce the price of gas at the gas pump.
There is one area of the economy that I don't think we have talked much about, and that is the trucking industry. Talk about renewables. What is going to provide the energy for trucks? What renewables do we have for trucks? I know some trucking companies are looking forward to going to propane to help a little bit, but there is not much substitute out there on renewables for the diesel engine right now. The diesel engine is what we use in trains, in trucking, in farming, and it is not going to be an easy solution for us to come up with an alternative fuel for diesel. We need to do what we can to hold down the cost of those kinds of fuels because that new technology is going to take a while to develop. We can't just shut it off today and expect our economy to function when it is such a vital part of what is happening in this country.
Mr. DOMENICI. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. ALLARD. I will be glad to yield.
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Mr. ALLARD. I thank the Senator from Kansas for his support. I couldn't agree more with him. It is time we stop these tactics that are causing the price of gas to get so high. Obviously, before the summer break, it doesn't look like we are going to have an opportunity to deal with the issue of bringing down the price of gas. Come September, we are going to have to do something more dramatic than what we have at this point. If it means we have to stop the continuing resolution with moratorium language in it, I think at that point in time we may have to make a strong stand--at that particular point in time. I predict we are not going to see that much of a decrease in the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel at the gas pump.
I thank the Senator from Kansas for his comments and for his support. We talked about how various aspects of the economy are being impacted by the high price of gas. I was at a press conference earlier. We had representatives speak on how the poor are getting adversely impacted, more than any other part of the population in the United States, because of the high cost of fuel. We had a member from the Congress of Racial Equality. We had Bishop Harry Jackson, who talked about the High Impact Leadership Coalition. We heard from the All Nations Pentecostal Church of God in Christ talk about how the poor they were dealing with were being so impacted by the high cost of fuel. We had a number of people from all aspects of life, including veterans. We had also consumer groups. We had the Farm Bureau and we had Americans for American Energy, all there at that press conference, talking about how letting the price of fuel get so high was actually a war on the poor. I thought that was a rather dramatic way of putting it.
We need to think a little bit about the fact, if we allow the price of gas to get high like this, there is a lower income section of our society that is going to be dramatically impacted because they do not have the reserve capacity to pick up the costs of fuel that is impacting their lives.
We need to act now. We should not be putting it off. I have been disappointed that we have not been able, as Republicans, to put our amendments forward on the floor. The majority leader has changed his view--we will go up to four, we will let in some amendments--and then all of a sudden we are at none. We are back to the none right now.
We need to move forward. I see my time is expiring.
I yield the floor.