ENERGY -- (Senate - September 16, 2008)
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Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Missouri for his comments this morning. I, too, wish to make some comments about our energy problems we are having in this country.
Before the August recess, I and many of my Republican colleagues came to the floor of this great body to make the case for a sound national energy policy that would make a difference to the millions of Americans struggling with high energy prices.
We just heard the majority leader mention energy as a critical problem in America. But, unfortunately, instead of dealing with this issue, it was set aside by the majority party in favor of a recess, and like the recess enjoyed by millions of American schoolkids, this recess was an opportunity for the majority party to run away from the hard work waiting for them on their desks on energy.
When or if we move to the energy debate again, I am hopeful we will be able to accomplish something. This is especially important because this will likely be the last opportunity for many months to offer relief to millions of Americans struggling with high fuel prices. It is relief to commuters, school carpoolers, it is relief for farmers, it is relief for small businesses, grocery shoppers, and all across the spectrum of American life where higher prices mean budget problems.
The price of oil has dropped from its summer high, and that is good, but the fundamental truth remains: America does not control its energy sources. Americans rely on overseas energy, and we pay billions and billions for it. We see those dollars go to countries that sponsor terrorism, which creates additional problems for the security of this country.
Our precarious position comes to everyone's realization when we deal with an interruption in energy. My esteemed colleague from Missouri just finished talking about the impact of Hurricane Ike and how it has had an effect, and that is when Americans realize how precarious our energy supplies are in this country.
For weeks now, dating back to before the August recess, Republicans have been pushing and prodding the Democrats in an effort to address this growing crisis.
I suspect that during the August recess Democrats got an earful from their constituents on energy. The citizens of this country told them to release areas off the coast for domestic exploration. They told them to open sections of ANWR to tap millions of barrels of our own vital oil and natural gas supplies. I heard those same concerns raised when I was back in my State during the summer.
Mr. President, the American people have spoken, and it is high time the Democratic Congress started to listen. We must open the Outer Continental Shelf for exploration. Unfortunately, Congress has enacted appropriations riders prohibiting the Department of the Interior from conducting activities related to production of oil and natural gas on much of the Outer Continental Shelf every year since 1982. The current congressional moratorium under which we are operating places nearly 86 percent of America's Outer Continental Shelf lands off-limits for exploration. No other country does that. Fortunately, the current moratorium is set to expire at the end of this current fiscal year; that is, September 30 of this year. In July, President Bush lifted the executive moratorium leaving only the congressional appropriations Outer Continental Shelf moratorium standing in the way of increased U.S. energy production. I encourage our Democratic friends to allow the moratorium to lapse. With the high cost of fuel, we must allow American companies to seek out new sources of energy off our coastal regions.
In conjunction with offshore exploration, we must open vital areas of Alaska and the West. Recently, in my home State of Colorado, the Roan Plateau was finally opened to the bidding process, and I am pleased the Bureau of Land Management was able to move forward with the Roan Plateau lease sale. This sale was important for the people of Colorado because it will generate millions of dollars of revenue for our State. But more importantly, Mr. President, the Roan Plateau development is one of the most environmentally conscious plans ever created, representing almost a decade of collaboration between local, State, and Federal officials. Also, more importantly, is what the Roan Plateau lease sale means for people around the Nation. The development of the oil and gas resources on the Roan Plateau will help secure the midrange future energy needs of our Nation.
The development of the Roan Plateau will be conducted in a staged approach in order to minimize wildlife habitat fragmentation, disturbances, and to encourage innovation in reclaiming many of our disturbed areas. The Roan Plateau is an example of how we can strike a balance between energy development and environmental protections.
While additional production of traditional oil sources is vital, we in Congress must continue to provide incentives for implementation of renewable energy and for the infrastructure necessary to support them. Our fossil fuels have become a bridge to better technology and much of what lies in the area of renewable energy. This is a necessary step in balancing our domestic energy portfolio, increasing our Nation's energy security, and advancing our economic prosperity.
The American people deserve an energy policy that calls for funding more domestic energy sources, including oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, as well as renewable resources and new energy efficiency technologies while not forgetting the conservation aspect of our energy problem and doing everything we possibly can to conserve our precious energy supplies. By investing in renewable energy research and development today, we will actually be saving money in future energy costs.
Energy runs the world in which we live, so without affordable, accessible sources of energy we open ourselves to dangers we simply should not allow to happen. I believe renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies help offset fuel imports, create numerous employment opportunities, develop our domestic economy, and enhance and create export opportunities. In addition, renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies provide clean, inexhaustible energy for millions of consumers.
But renewable energy alone is not enough. We still need additional sources of domestic energy. Mr. President, I disagree with my own Governor from the State of Colorado and the points he was making at the majority leader's energy conference in Nevada, where he stated that renewable energy was the main reason we were having many job opportunities and why our economy was doing well in Colorado. There is no doubt that the renewable energy effort in Colorado has created more jobs. It has created some diversity in our economy, and that is good. But it is the oil and gas industry that has provided the revenues for the State of Colorado and will continue to do it for some time. If we push too hard and too quickly to go to renewable energies before that industry has matured, we will create additional economic problems not only for the State of Colorado but for this country.
It is fascinating when one looks at the retirement portfolio for the employees of the State of Colorado. A large percentage of that revenue and that portfolio is coming from oil and gas companies. It is helping provide for the future retirement of employees who have worked for the State of Colorado. So although renewable energy is beginning to play a larger and more important role in the State of Colorado, it is not ready to replace the huge amount of revenue oil and gas is producing for my State.
One of the most promising sources of domestic energy in the Nation is found in my State of Colorado, and that is oil shale. This shale could easily yield 800 billion barrels of oil, which is more than the entire proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Now, the estimates on the oil shale in Colorado and Utah and Wyoming are estimated up to 2 trillion, but 800 billion seems as though it is the minimum amount that most people believe we can bring to the surface with the new technologies we have in oil shale, which, by the way, is environmentally favorable.
Unfortunately, we can't even begin to move toward assessing this unparalleled resource because Democratic obstructionism has effectively put this resource out of reach. Any Member of Congress who refuses to consider comprehensive solutions that include reducing energy consumption while increasing domestic supplies is ignoring the needs of this country.
I am very hopeful that within the next few weeks we will be able to find a commonsense approach to our energy crisis that addresses the basic economic law of supply and demand. It is simple: If we increase our supply while reducing demand, energy prices will go down. We shouldn't forget that we live in a supply-and-demand economy.
So, Mr. President, I urge the majority leader, and I urge the majority party to quickly get us on the issue of energy and onto reasonable commonsense solutions to move us forward. This country is dependent on our doing the right thing on energy because it is such an essential part of our economy. It builds into all levels of manufacturing, it builds into each individual American's life, and it is a driving factor when we talk about the inflation that is happening right now in our economy.
So, Mr. President, let's move forward. Let's do something about the energy crisis we have in this country, and let's not let the current election year environment in this country disrupt our effort to try to do what is best in making sure we have a safe and secure country and a secure economy.
Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I ask unanimous consent that the remainder of the Republican time be reserved.