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Public Statements

Republican Freshman Quarterly Report

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


REPUBLICAN FRESHMAN QUARTERLY REPORT -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2008)

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Mr. SCALISE. Thank you. And I want to thank my colleague from California for putting this together. I think it's very important that while our country is facing a national energy crisis, the only debate that's going on on the House floor is right here tonight with Members of the freshmen class that are sick and tired of the delays and the inaction of the leadership of this Democratically controlled Congress.

Madam Speaker, I think today might have been one of the lows of that 110th Congress, the fact that the only real vote that was taken today on this floor was a vote to adjourn Congress for 5 weeks. The fact that Congress passed a resolution to adjourn for 5 weeks and take a vacation at a time when our country is facing a national energy crisis--we should be here debating solutions to this problem. We should be here talking about the proposals that are on the table. And there are a number of proposals that are on the table to debate.

If the leadership doesn't want to have a straight up-or-down vote, there's going to have to be some reckoning because the American people are sick and tired of it. I think if you look right now--and it's ironic, and it is very unfortunate, that many of the families in my district, in my colleagues' districts, throughout this country, families are canceling their summer vacations because they can't afford the price of energy to go to the places that they wanted to go this summer.

So what is Congress doing to address that big problem that's facing our country? Today Congress voted by one vote, voted to take a 5-week vacation at a time when American families are canceling their vacations. I think that's a low point for this Democratically controlled Congress, and I think they're going to have a hard time answering to the people why they won't bring up a vote.

What are they afraid of? Are they afraid of debating these ideas that we put on the table?

I filed a bill called the GAS Act, Grow American Supply. Removes the barrier that exists. There's a congressional ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. I come from Louisiana. We know how to drill in an environmentally safe way. People know that you can drill and not do harm to the environment. In fact, now the environment thrives in the areas where drilling occurs. The best place to go fishing in south Louisiana is next to an oil rig because the fish congregate around that area. It's an estuary for them.

By the same token, when we went on that American energy tour when we were in Alaska, we went to Mile Marker Zero, the beginning of the Alaskan pipeline, and we saw three caribou approach about 40 yards away. They were just walking to us. They weren't afraid of us. They were walking towards the pipeline, and we found out back when they built the pipeline 30 years ago, some of these same radical groups that don't want to explore natural resources in America today, some of those same radical groups were saying, ``Don't build the Alaskan pipeline. You'll destroy the caribou population.'' They were there.

You can't find them now because guess what happened? After they built the pipeline, the caribou population increased by about five times, a five-fold increase in the caribou population because they like the warmth of the pipeline and they mate around the pipeline. So it's actually helped the environment. You can peacefully coexist with the natural habitat by safely and environmentally friendly drilling in exploration for our natural resources.

So we put all of those different solutions, the all-of-the-above plan that my friend from California talked about in a bill called the American Energy Act, and everybody in this room cosponsored it. I would encourage all of my Democratic friends to cosponsor the bill as well because it is a comprehensive approach to a major national crisis that's facing our country.

It doesn't just talk about exploration and drilling for oil. It talks about renewable sources of energy, the things that we found at the National Renewable Energy Lab when we went and looked at the wind and solar and the hydrogen technologies that are being advanced.

But even the people that are advancing those technologies will readily admit that those technologies alone will not meet the energy needs of our country 10 years from now, 20 years from now. You're still going to have to have a reliance on multiple sources, multiple approaches to this, including fossil fuels.

So we look at things like oil shale and tar sands where we know we can get billions of barrels of oil. Yet what's standing in the way? The Democratically controlled Congress will not let us have a vote on lifting a Federal moratorium that even exists on exploring those alternative sources of energy.

So I think the more that the American people see this, and the fact that they see every 2 weeks or so the Democratically-controlled Congress brings out another scapegoat, another person to blame. They blamed OPEC and said, ``Let's sue OPEC.'' And then the price rose. And then they said, ``What about use-it-or-lose-it, and oil companies are sitting on millions of acres of leases.'' And then people looked at that and researched it and realized that's not true.

In fact, it's some of these radical environmental groups that filed lawsuits to stop people from exploring for our own natural resources, and that's the biggest delay in bringing oil to the markets so that our people can see a lower price of gasoline.

Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. SCALISE. I will happily yield.

Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. I just want to ask the gentleman a question. He comes from Louisiana.

Isn't it true that the oil production facilities offshore in your State in the gulf that during Katrina, that terrible disaster that hit our country, hit your State so hard, but isn't it true those production facilities withstood that hurricane and there was no spill, no environmental hazard whatsoever during that entire storm?

Mr. SCALISE. My colleague makes a great point because that, in fact, is what happens.

Katrina was a horrible, horrible tragedy. Hurricane Rita came right behind it. So you had two of the worst hurricanes in our Nation's history, came through the Gulf of Mexico within a few week period of time of each other, and many rigs were knocked down. We saw the price of oil go up because our State supply is about 30 percent of the Nation's domestically produced oil. We would sure like to increase that percentage.

But when those rigs got knocked down, one thing that didn't happen is you did not see environmental spills because they do, they do drill today in an environmentally safe way, and you had no disasters because they know how to do it in a very technologically safe way, as my friend from California showed.

The platform, the footprint of an oil rig today is about one-fourth of the size of an oil rig just a few decades ago, and yet they can also drill in a wider area, directionally drill up to 8 miles. So the technology is there.

We have a plan that we've laid out, and if the Democratically controlled Congress has a better idea, put it on the table. Let's stay. Let's roll up or sleeves during this next 5 weeks and solve this crisis rather than taking a 5-week vacation, which is the plan, I guess, the only energy plan that the Democratically controlled Congress had.

That's why I'm proud to say no Republicans voted to adjourn because we want to stay here and work on the solution because, we know, we've got the ingenuity here in our country. We've got the technology to lower gas prices.

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Mr. SCALISE. Again, a lot of interesting points are being brought up, great points that you just brought up, and ultimately, this comes down to a supply-and-demand problem. And when you're talking about the price, you are exactly right, because when you talk to economic experts, what they will tell you--and anybody that understands basic market economics, and I think most people in the American country do--unfortunately, I think the Democratically-controlled leadership of this Congress doesn't understand that you've got an increase in global demand for oil all across this world, not just in the United States, and yet the supply is flat. OPEC's not going to increase their supply because they want a high price.

But we here in our country have the ability to increase some of those moratoriums that were arbitrarily placed by Congress. And you talked about the President lifting the ban on Outer Continental Shelf drilling. You saw a $10 drop in the price of a barrel of oil in just 1 day because of an executive ban, even though still now

and I think most in people in the country now see that the only thing standing in the way of opening up that Outer Continental Shelf to drilling is the congressional ban that's in place, and that's the ban that's part of the all-of-the-above strategy, and we're asking Speaker Pelosi to just give us a vote on that.

If she wants to disagree with it, if these radical environmental groups don't want to do that, that's their prerogative, but let's have a straight up-or-down vote. I think that a lot of Democrats would vote for that, too, as well as Republicans because ultimately you would see a real solution being placed on the table.

But in fact, what we're left with is this do-nothing approach and the leadership in Congress saying let's adjourn for 5 weeks rather than address this problem because they're afraid of the realization, and I think they realize that if we had a vote on this, we opened it up to all amendments so that we could actually talk about a full, comprehensive energy plan which our country doesn't have--the fact that if we did that, you would see an immediate drop, even bigger than that $10 a barrel drop you saw that one day. You would see a dramatic drop, as my friend from California talked about, at least a 20 percent drop, which our people, our constituents all across this country would realize very quickly in a lower price of gas at the pump, and that's ultimately what we should be trying to achieve.

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