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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Well, let me thank the gentleman from Colorado for his dedicated service to not only the State of Colorado but to our Nation.
We have been coming to the floor talking about the increasing prices of energy across America. Since we came back in January, we have taken to this floor to talk about the very poor policies coming out of the administration.
And just to give you an example of that, on Inauguration Day of President Obama, AAA said the gasoline prices in America averaged $1.84 a gallon. Today, gasoline prices are averaging across this great land $3.73 a gallon. That is a 102 percent increase during the Obama administration. But yet he will claim, the administration will claim, that they have increased domestic energy production. They've increased onshore and offshore drilling, and apparently oil and natural gas are just bubbling up out of the ground and providing this. But, America, that's not the case. That's not the case. Gas prices are going up simply due to two factors--supply and demand. Those are the things that contribute to the price of a barrel of oil in the world. Supply and demand.
Now, I admit that world demand is up even while United States demand is lower than it was in 2008. World demand is up. So that's one factor. But the supply factor. Americans know that we are tremendously dependent on Middle Eastern oil. We've got the resources here in this country. If this administration will just get out of the way and allow us to harvest our natural resources, we would be energy independent.
But let me tell you what the administration apparently has as a policy goal, and this comes from the White House statement on the Keystone pipeline. The gentleman from Colorado has heard me say this--I think this is the fourth time--but America needs to hear it again because President Obama said this. He said:
Decisions here in Congress to force the decision on Keystone pipeline do ``not change my administration's commitment''--this is from the White House Web site, and I recommend you go look at it for yourself--``it does not change my administration's commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs''--and listen closely--``and reduces our dependence on oil.''
Now, at one time he was talking about these abundant supplies, this increased onshore and offshore drilling and production in this country. But yet his own words say ``commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil.''
Now, when you first heard that, you thought, I agree with that. He wants to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and Middle Eastern oil, but no, no, no. That's not what he said. He said lessen our dependence on oil, period. Not foreign oil, not Middle Eastern oil, lessen our dependence on oil.
So you take that with his Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu. Steven Chu, before he was appointed as Secretary of Energy in this country, said this: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.''
Now Europeans in England and Germany and France, they're paying $7, $8, $9 a gallon for gasoline. America, under these policies, that's where we're headed. Under the words of Steven Chu, the Energy Secretary, he said: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.''
It shouldn't surprise you that's what they want to do--lessen our dependence on oil, period. And that's propagating policies and giving money away to companies that supported him in his election campaign, companies like Solyndra, $535 million, gone, America, your tax dollars that I know you're working hard for every day.
In South Carolina, my constituents, they go to work every day. And they earn the hard-earned dollars. They go to work, and they're thinking when they're filling up their gas tank at $3.75 a gallon, $4 a gallon diesel fuel--I drive a diesel, so last week I couldn't fill my truck up, because I'm hurting just like other Americans, and how much I have to take out of my wallet to fill up my truck, and what I could use that money for in other ways, whether it's to take my family out to dinner or pay off some debt or do some things that we normally would do with that money, but now we're having to take more dollars out of our pockets to put fuel in our car to drive to work. And so Americans are thinking: How many hours of my workday on my job am I working just to pay for the gasoline I just paid to get to work and to get home?
Four dollars a gallon gasoline for diesel fuel, and America, think about this: Think about the farmers that are putting diesel fuel in their tractors to plant the food that you're going to buy at the grocery store. Input cost. Input cost on the front end affects the price on the back end.
Mr. Chu, the Secretary of Energy, said this. He's calling for gradually ramping up gasoline taxes over the next 15 years to coax consumers into buying more-efficient cars and living in neighborhoods closer to work. This European model where we'll all live close in town and we can walk to work or bicycle. That's the optimal thing in their eyes. We don't live that way here in America. We like our freedom. We like to get in our cars and drive ourselves to work. The policy of this administration is affecting what you pay at the pumps, and it's very clear using the President's own words about gasoline and about oil.
So we are seeing rising gasoline prices, and we've got the power to do something about that here in America. We have the capacity, the resources in this country that far exceed what's found in Saudi Arabia. Far exceed by hundreds of billions of barrels of oil more than what exists in the Saudi oil reserves here in this country. We've got them. We're buying a lot of oil from Canada. We talked about the Keystone pipeline. The gentleman from Colorado and I have talked about this numerous times. But instead of pursuing American energy independence, beyond that why can't we pursue maybe North American energy independence and buy from our largest and best trading partner, Canada, if our policies are going to keep us from drilling off our coast in South Carolina, or off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, places where there are proven reserves, and we've been pumping oil for a long time?
Or going onshore. North Dakota. North Dakota has an energy-driven economy. Their unemployment rate is 3 percent or less. They're pumping oil out of the Bakken oil fields there in North Dakota. President Obama is taking credit for increased oil production in North Dakota, but back up, because the oil that's being pumped out of the ground in North Dakota isn't on Federal land, and it isn't because of any policies of this administration. The permits were issued during the last administration and the one before that, and we're producing oil on State and private lands in North Dakota. It's not Federal lands; it's State lands. It's private lands. Unemployment is 3 percent. Good paying, long-term jobs, energy-driven economy in North Dakota.
But guess what? The Bakken oil field extends beyond the borders of North Dakota, and it goes into Montana and other States. Well, if you go across that artificial border between North Dakota and Montana into the same oil field known as Bakken, you're not going to find any energy production over in Montana. You know why? It's because it's on Federal land. And that Federal land has been off the table for energy production and energy exploration. But over where it's on State and private land, it's gangbusters. It's going gangbusters, 3 percent unemployment in North Dakota. That's a telling sign, America, on what you do when you go after your own resources and you produce American resources to meet our American energy needs.
I heard the gentleman from Colorado talk about an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I've heard the President here at the State of the Union say the same thing. But, you know, in my opinion an all-of-the-above energy strategy says (a) first, we're going to take care of a proven technology of oil and natural gas to meet our immediate energy needs. And then we're going to continue to expand nuclear power in this country because it's proven, it's tried, and we can expand that.
I applaud the new permit in Georgia for a new reactor. We're going to have one very soon in my home State. It'll be the second in about 30 years where we've permitted a nuclear power plant to provide electricity to this country. But the President, he likes this global warming cap-and-trade scheme. And he says that under his plan of a cap-and-trade system, ``electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.'' Electricity rates are going to skyrocket. Well, we've got the ability to build more nuclear power plants and permit those that are underway and provide good, stable electricity in this country. So all of the above includes oil and natural gas, energy exploration, offshore, onshore, where we have those resources, and expanding nuclear power plants in this country, looking at the things that are tried and true and allowing the free market, not your tax dollars, America, but the free market to determine the winners and losers with regard to green energy.
If it works, if it can be successful, I guarantee you, there are American investors and worldwide investors that would invest their own hard-earned dollars at their own personal choice to invest in that technology, and they will pick a winner because on the back side they're going to make a profit.
But that's not what's happening. This administration is taking your tax dollars, and they're making your investment decisions for you in companies like Solyndra. They're picking the winners. They're picking the losers. It's wrong. It's got to stop.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Gentleman from Colorado, that's a great example. I've never heard him talk about that. The administration talks about the exact opposite. They want us to pay for what Europeans pay for oil and natural gas. They want to see us move toward a green energy economy, and they want to create policies, tax policy and regulatory policies, that are going to force you, as Americans, to buy what they want you to buy, and that is an electric car.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. You're exactly right. These are about American jobs going overseas and American tax dollars going overseas, and American-earned income. Because, as I mentioned earlier, you're digging deeper into your wallet, taking out--instead of a $20 bill to fill up a gas tank, taking out a $100 bill. Americans know what they could do with the rest of that money, the difference there.
I get a little passionate about this issue, and I apologize to the ladies here in the Chamber that have to record what I say, but I'm not alone in this. America is passionate about this as well because they know we have the resources here and they know we can be energy independent and we wouldn't be giving money to Middle Eastern countries, who a lot of times don't like us maybe as well as the Canadians and other countries closer to home like us.
I spouted off some things about Federal land and State land and North Dakota and Montana a minute ago, so let me just tell you: in 2000, Federal oil production accounted for 32 percent of the total U.S. energy production. In 2010, after 2 years of the job-destroying Obama administration policies that I mentioned earlier, Federal production only accounts for 19 percent of the total U.S. oil production. That's an 11 percent decrease.
When I think about the year 2000, I think about some of our friends on the other side of the building, and John Kerry and some of these guys that said, you know what, if we decided to drill today and open up new lease areas and do energy exploration, whether it's the Outer Continental Shelf, it won't have any effect on the price at the pump for Americans because it takes about 10 years for that to come online and start producing oil. But, hey guys, that was 10 years ago. What impact would those policies of drilling in ANWR or off the Outer Continental Shelf or more onshore production, what impact would that have had on the price you pay at the pump today?
I think we've got to get serious about American energy exploration and production here. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. We need to take that step today. I'll tell you, the House Republicans have done that with numerous job-creating, energy-production bills that have passed out of this Chamber that are languishing in the abyss known as the United States Senate--that's failed to pass a budget for our country in 1,036 days, that's failed to take up American energy-independence bills, job-creating bills that we passed out of this Chamber.
So energy production is down on Federal lands, and the Obama administration is taking credit for increased production and saying we've opened up new offshore areas. But the data I have says there's less offshore acreage open for energy exploration and production now than when President Obama took office when nearly 100 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf was opened up under the Bush administration. They lifted the moratorium for energy exploration, let alone production.
Listen, I served for 18 months on what was known then, under the Mineral Mining Services of the Department of the Interior, the OCS, or Outer Continental Shelf, 5-year Planning Subcommittee where we looked at the next 5-year plan for this country on what areas we were going to open up offshore. What areas were available for us to even talk about were small grid squares in the western Gulf of Mexico, nothing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, nothing in the Atlantic Ocean, nothing off the coast of California, nothing off the coast of Alaska except for another small square.
This was prior to the latter years of the Bush administration when he decided, you know what, American energy independence means we need to open up the Outer Continental Shelf and really see what's out there and begin energy production. But the 5-year plan we looked at looked at these grid squares, and we were going to recommend a lease/sell, where we were going to offer leases to those areas, to the energy companies so they could go out there and explore and produce those resources.
Well, the Obama administration has taken a lot of that off the table. They haven't created a new 5-year plan. They're going to say they just came out with a new one, but I believe it's just all for looks.
The total onshore acreage--I was talking about offshore--but the total onshore acreage leased under the Obama administration in 2009 and 2010 is the lowest in over two decades. We're not talking about ultra-Deep Horizon accident-type offshore production.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Energy production might be up in this country, but it has nothing to do with the policies of this administration. It goes back to the previous administration that said, you know what, we're going to open up Bakken because the geological survey found a ton of oil reserves there. In your home State, the oil shale in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, could be the next Saudi Arabia if we were to allow onshore production for oil shale in the Rocky Mountains. I know the gentleman from Colorado probably wants to talk about the oil shales of Colorado.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. You're exactly right.
You know, we had a tragic accident. Nobody is running from the fact that Deepwater Horizon was very tragic in the Gulf of Mexico, and we'll learn from that. The oil companies, energy production companies will learn from that. But during that moratorium under the Obama administration--and then later he said he lifted the moratorium, but there was a de facto moratorium because they were failing to issue leases and permits for continued drilling out there.
For companies that already invested billions of dollars in purchasing the rights to those lease areas to explore for energy and produce energy, they were languishing out there, waiting on the drilling permits to come back from Washington. The Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior were slow-walking these permits. And so at some point in time those energy companies said, you know what, we're going to drag those drilling platforms out of the Gulf of Mexico.
They towed them to the shore offshore of Brazil, to the seas offshore Brazil and the seas offshore of Africa. Today, they are drilling for energy in other countries. And we had them here in the Gulf of Mexico producing American energy to lower the price at the pump for American consumers. It's very expensive to get those drilling platforms back to the gulf.
And so, as tragic as Horizon was, we learned from it. The Obama administration issued a moratorium to stop that drilling. Then they said, well, we're going to end the moratorium. But then when they failed to issue the leases, it's really a moratorium, it's instituting their policies. And it's going to be very difficult for us to get that production level back in the Gulf of Mexico because it's expensive for those companies to bring those rigs back.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Before do you that, can I just remind you that Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along that same line, said, there can be no national security without energy security. There can be no national security without energy security. That's a wake-up call, America.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. I've gotten Facebook posts. I've gotten phone calls in our office encouraging just that, for the President to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to help lessen the price at the pump.
But let me just tell America that it was during the 1970s oil embargo that I remember, as a small child, that Congress created this huge 727 million-barrel reserve that was intended for national security emergencies.
Before President Obama tapped the SPR, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, back in June of 2011, the reserve had previously only been tapped once for war, the other to combat a natural disaster, and the third time, quite similarly, for political opportunism. And the examples are this:
President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, the first Bush, used the SPR, the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, during Operation Desert Storm because we were going to war over there and he was afraid that would disrupt Middle Eastern supplies, and so he tapped those reserves just to make sure Americans didn't suffer because of our actions over there in Operation Desert Storm.
And then in 2005 we had, down along the gulf coast, which is a tremendous energy production area, in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, we had a little thing called Hurricane Katrina that came through and really disrupted supplies in the Gulf States and did a lot of damage there. And President George W. Bush opened up the strategic reserves to lessen the price at the pump for Americans because we knew there was going to be some supply disruptions.
So we had a natural disaster, and we had a war.
But then in 2000, just another example, President Clinton opened up the supply under the Strategic Petroleum Reserve right before a campaign, right before the Bush-Gore campaign. There wasn't any natural disaster. There wasn't a hurricane bearing down on us. We were not going to war. He was trying to stabilize the market to help him in a political game.
And then we see President Obama, in June of 2011, do the same thing. Instead of focusing on American jobs and American energy production and a long-term energy policy, they're playing games with tapping the strategic reserves which have an intended purpose, and that intended purpose is not to bring the price down at the pump. It's to stabilize the American economy in case of war or in case of a natural disaster.
Now, we've got these reserves sitting there, and we've got a lot of middle eastern unrest with what's going on in Iran and Iran cutting England and Germany or England and France, one of the European countries, off from any oil. It's actually a reverse embargo, where Iran's not going to ship oil to some friendly countries in Europe. And so we're seeing this volatility due to the unrest in Iran.
Shouldn't we, as America, keep that oil in reserve just in case there's a problem over there? Maybe--who knows, maybe there's further disruptions, Strait of Hormuz issue. Strategic reserves are there for a stated purpose, not for political gains.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. That's too much common sense.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. A Band-Aid, so to speak.
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Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. The gentleman from Colorado has been a stalwart and a leader in energy, American energy independence, as a leader of the House Energy Action Team. We call it HEAT, H-E-A-T.
Let me just tell America, if you want to find out some of these details, some of the facts that we've laid out for you in black and white, you can go to the Web site for House Energy Action Team, under the House GOP Web site, and find this data out. We're putting it out there for you. We're not shying away from it. We're not. We're providing this information for you Americans to make informed decisions to understand that these energy bills we pass through the House, they have merit and they would have results if we could get the Senate to take them up, and let's have a true comprehensive energy policy for this country that focuses on American energy independence, that does things right for you Americans to lessen the price that you're paying at the pump, to lessen the price that you're paying on your electricity bill every month.
House Energy Action Team is focused on this. The gentleman from Colorado is a leader on that. Our caucus and our conference is a leader on that.
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