BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about our Nation's energy policy, or, frankly, our lack thereof.
Georgians, as well as folks all across America, are shocked every time they pull up to a gas pump, both at the price of gas per gallon and at the jaw-dropping cost each time they fill up their tanks.
With rising food prices and a stagnant economy, skyrocketing gas prices could not come at a worse time. This situation illustrates why it is imperative for Congress to focus on creating a policy to expand and diversify our energy sources so the American people are no longer held hostage by prices at the pump.
The necessity of congressional action has become all too clear as we watch gas prices climb and unrest spread throughout the Middle East, potentially threatening major sources of energy we import.
It highlights the fact that we cannot afford to keep sending hundreds of billions of dollars per year to foreign countries--many of which are not America's friends--to meet our energy needs. It poses a threat to our national security and further harms our Nation's struggling economy.
This week we are considering two pieces of legislation that both deal with domestic production of oil and gas: the Reid proposal that aimed to stifle it, and one introduced by Leader McConnell that increases offshore production while improving the safety of offshore drilling operations.
Unfortunately, the Reid proposal would have increased taxes on domestic production of oil and gas, which would have discouraged domestic drilling and resulted in the loss of many American jobs associated with the oil and gas industry.
Without incentives to produce oil and gas in the United States, there is real risk that energy companies will take many of their drilling operations overseas. This goes directly against goals I know many of my Democratic colleagues share of reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil and encouraging job growth. Moreover, as we watch gas prices rise, why would anyone want to impose new taxes on energy which will only further increase prices Americans pay at the pump?
My colleagues across the aisle who support this legislation portray their proposal as a deficit-cutting measure. As much as anyone here, I recognize the importance of reducing our Federal deficit. But I do not support targeting one industry to bear the brunt of the deficit-cutting measures while others enjoy tax incentives.
Rather than hindering domestic production of oil and gas, we must encourage the development of abundant energy resources we have right here inside the United States, and we must do so in an environmentally responsible manner.
I was pleased the Reid proposal did not pass yesterday. As a cosponsor of Leader McConnell's Offshore Production and Safety Act, I will continue to support domestic oil and gas exploration and production. It is an essential component of a comprehensive energy policy that will enable America to become more energy independent.
As I hear more reports of new oil and natural gas deposits found within our borders and off America's shores, I am stunned we are not doing more to encourage the development of these resources. I cannot think of a better means of improving our economy by both reducing America's energy imports and encouraging job growth.
After the oilspill last year, the Obama administration reviewed its drilling and permitting process for domestic oil and gas production, and is still in the process of revising it. While changes clearly needed to be made, the Department of the Interior continues to hold up and unnecessarily delay approval of drilling leases and permits. Now is not the time to tie up valuable and much-needed American energy production in bureaucratic redtape. Senator McConnell's bill would actually streamline the permitting process while improving safety.
A responsible energy policy that will make gas prices reasonable, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and strengthen our economy will also result in increased domestic energy production, improved energy efficiency through technology, increased conservation, and a diversified energy supply through the use of renewable fuel sources.
Along with supporting America's oil and gas development, we must also focus on other domestic energy sources--including nuclear energy, wind, clean coal, and solar power--that will allow us to achieve sustainable energy independence.
I am hopeful that in the 112th Congress we will take on some form of comprehensive energy legislation. For the sake of our national security and our economy, we need to take this issue on now instead of kicking it down the road for others to handle.
I encourage my colleagues to support the McConnell proposal.
Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT