McConnell Proposes Ways to Provide Relief at the Pump: Increase U.S. Production, Halt Job-Stifling Regulations

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: March 16, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding rising gas prices and the need to explore U.S. energy resources:

"The rising cost of gasoline has become a major source of concern for most Americans. And with prices in most states moving closer and closer to $4 a gallon, and already higher in some areas, Americans have a right to know where the President and Democrats in Congress stand on the issue.

"So let me just begin this morning with the simple observation that it's no accident that gas prices are skyrocketing at a time when Democrats control two thirds of official Washington.

"It's no secret that Democrat leaders in Washington don't particularly care for the issue.

"Ask them about gas prices, and chances are they'll tell you about some car they plan to build and have ready for production about 25 years down the road.

"Suggest that we tap some of our own domestic American sources of oil, and they'll give you 101 reasons why we can't, and how that's not a real solution anyway because it'll take too long to get it out of the ground. We've been having that particular argument for decades now.

"And then they have the audacity to step in front of the cameras and tell us they're all for reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil. With what -- windmills?

"It's time to be serious about a serious problem.

"Don't listen to what they say on this issue -- watch what they do.

"And here's what they've done.

"Over the past two years, the Obama administration has delayed, revoked, suspended, or canceled an enormous range of development opportunities.

"One month after the President took office, his administration cancelled 77 oil and gas leases in Utah -- once the review was complete the Administration refused to reinstate a single one.

"A month after that, the Administration shortened lease terms for offshore oil and gas production and raised fees for permit applications.

"Last January, it announced new restrictions for onshore oil and gas exploration in the Mountain West.

"Last February, it denied a permit to build a bridge needed to access an oil producing field in Alaska, after the Environmental Protection Agency designated a nearby river an aquatic resource of national importance.

"Last April, the Administration suspended 61 oil and gas leases in Montana that were issued in 2008 -- then announced that all oil and gas leases in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota would be delayed indefinitely.

"Last May, the President announced a 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling -- a moratorium that's been repeatedly struck down in the courts.

"The list of actions like these goes on and on.

"And that's to say nothing of the proposed new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on energy that would either cause oil refineries to pass along their resulting new production costs to consumers at the pump or drive them and their jobs overseas.

"So let there be no doubt: the White House efforts are costing jobs and putting even more pressure on gas prices. And paying lip service to the public's concerns won't solve the problem.

"But unlocking our own sources of energy here at home would help immensely.

"Just to give you an idea of the kind of resources we have right here at home, consider that just one 2,000-acre section of the non-wilderness sections of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, along with the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, have enough recoverable oil to replace crude imports from the Persian Gulf for nearly 65 years. So the problem isn't that we need to look elsewhere for our energy.

"The problem is that Democrats in Washington won't let us use it.

"The problem is that even with gas prices on the rise, they want to tax it even more.

"So let's make this simple:

"I'm going to propose just two, concrete, practical things we can do in Washington to give the American people some relief, create jobs, and help make us less dependent on foreign sources of oil -- two ideas that should have wide bipartisan support.

"Let's increase American energy production.

"And let's block any new regulations that will drive up production costs for energy.

"Two ideas that will create jobs and alleviate the increasing pressure on gas prices.

"Let's leave the ideology aside and do some practical good for Americans who are struggling out there.

"Let's increase American production of energy with American jobs and stop the job-stifling regulations."