AMERICAN ENERGY ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 16, 2008)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Scalise) for 5 minutes.
Mr. SCALISE. Madam Speaker, in the last 4 months, there has been a very intense debate going on here in this Congress, but also across the entire country, and that debate has been about energy; about what can be done to lower the price of gasoline at the pump and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It's a very healthy debate, a debate that we need to have, but a debate that we need to resolve here in this body with an open debate and vote on the options that have been put on the table.
Back 2 months ago, House Republicans put together a bill that actually has garnered bipartisan support, called the American Energy Act, a comprehensive plan to address this national energy crisis our country is facing, both to look at what we can do to increase the supply of American oil, to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil in the short-term, but also to look at the long-term objectives of how to move off of oil and move more toward alternative sources, like renewable sources of energy, looking at wind, looking at solar, and trying to advance those technologies so that they can become more viable in the marketplace so that somebody can go and buy an electric car and be able to drive back and forth to work without plugging it in for 6 hours.
Those technologies will advance, and in the American Energy Act we are encouraging those renewable sources of energy, to advance things like, instead of using products like corn for ethanol, using the biomass, the waste products of things like corn and sugar cane and other products, to make ethanol, which we can do. The technologies haven't advanced to the point where they are commercially viable. All of that is here in the American Energy Act. To look at doing things like increasing the ability to permit nuclear facilities so we can reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. All of the things that have been talked about in the last few months have been encompassed in a bill that has bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, the liberal leadership has not allowed a discussion, a debate, or a vote on the American Energy Act. So what we have said is, Bring it up. If you don't like it, let's bring up amendments. Let's have everything put on the table to address this important discussion that is so important to our country, and hurting our economy. Something that we can do to help the economy.
So what happens? What is the approach that is taken by the liberal leadership? By dark of night, last night, we finally saw what their plan was. It was this bill that was put together in a back room somewhere with who knows what groups, because nobody, even people on the other side, Madam Speaker, members of the Democratic Party who support a comprehensive plan, were not even allowed to have input on the bill that was filed late last night, dark of night, with a 10 o'clock filing of the bill. At 10:30, they had a meeting to decide that they weren't even going to allow an amendment to be brought up, and that today it would come up on the House floor for a vote. That is not the way you handle the most important issue in this country that we are facing right now.
When there's been an alternative on the table for a month, with active discussion, you don't by dark of night put something together that nobody's seen, and then say, Okay, tomorrow we're going to bring it up for a vote, and not one amendment can be offered.
Of course, once you start looking through their bill, you can quickly see why they did it by dark of night and why they don't want any amendments offered. Because this bill that they are going to have a vote on today, that nobody has been able to go through in great detail, the more you look at it, you realize this is a do-nothing bill. This bill will actually put our country more at risk to Middle Eastern oil. Why is that?
Well, there are a number of provisions. First, let's talk about revenue sharing. Right now, States have the ability to get revenue sharing for the drilling that they do. In my State, Louisiana, we drill about 30 percent of the country's oil. We have been doing it for a long time. Finally, after years and years of negotiation, we were able to get an agreement that there would be revenue sharing. That we would be able to participate in the revenue that is generated by the drilling that's done off of our own coast. It doesn't start until 2017. Their bill takes that away.
Why is that significant to States like Louisiana? Number one, it's a huge disincentive for anybody to want to drill. If a State that doesn't drill at all, like Florida, now wants to start looking at drilling, which they do, this takes away their incentive. We use those revenues in Louisiana. It's dedicated in our constitution to rebuilding our vanishing coast. That's our barrier against future hurricanes. Why would the Democratic leadership want to take away our ability to have revenue sharing that we will use to restore our coast and put our hurricane barrier back in place in Louisiana?
They don't do anything on oil shale revenue sharing. They don't do anything on the lawsuit abuses. Right now, lawsuits by radical environmental groups take up about a third of the time it takes to bring oil to market. They don't do anything on nuclear, to encourage more nuclear power, like in France. France uses 80 percent nuclear power for their energy in their homes. There's nothing in this bill to encourage and remove those barriers on nuclear.
So, clearly, OPEC could not have drafted a better bill than the bill that the radical environmentalists/liberals filed today. I would encourage a ``no'' vote.