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Public Statements

Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I will follow up on the comments of the Senator from Texas on an issue that we will be voting on this afternoon, I understand, regarding the construction of the so-called Keystone Pipeline.

I have been somewhat frustrated by the debate around this issue. Unfortunately, I think we are going to be confronted again with kind of a bifurcated choice that doesn't get to the possibility of us actually putting into place a comprehensive energy policy that will remove this Nation's dependence upon foreign oil and start to look at the ability over the longer haul to bring down the price at the pump and make sure we are truly a participant in the opportunities of a glowing, multifaceted energy policy going forward.

I support the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. I believe we need to have an energy policy that has an ``all-of-the-above'' approach. I do believe there are appropriate regulatory reviews that need to be made. I also, frankly, think any construction of the Keystone Pipeline should take into consideration the very serious environmental considerations that particularly affect the State of Nebraska, and there will need to be a route for this pipeline that would avoid that potential environmental damage.

However, because of the way this process is being laid out, I will not be voting for the Keystone amendment today because by making this a straight up-or-down issue, without taking advantage of the opportunity to put together the beginnings of an energy package, we are missing a great opportunity.

As I have mentioned, if we are truly serious about energy security, and if we are truly serious about reducing our dependence upon foreign oil, I believe we need an energy policy that has an ``all-of-the-above'' approach. Yes, that means more domestic oil and gas. But it means when we have an opportunity in an issue of controversy such as this regarding Keystone, we could have taken this opportunity to include a rational approach with appropriate environmental reviews to get to, I believe, a positive answer on Keystone but also link that with other energy policies that would make sense.

I know the Presiding Officer has in his State a number of wind facilities and solar facilities. Unfortunately, those areas that need, as well, to be part of our energy mix--the tax treatment that allows those projects to move forward have been put in limbo because of the failure of Congress to extend the so-called tax provisions, or tax extenders, on a going-forward basis. Wind projects all

across the country--in fact, I was visiting with some folks right before coming to the floor, and they have a variety of wind projects that are stopped dead in their tracks because of the uncertainty regarding whether Congress will act.

The ability to get the Keystone Pipeline passed, in combination with passing, as well, the extension of these appropriate renewable energy tax credits could have built the kind of bipartisan consensus around energy policy that would be needed. I also believe the lowest hanging fruit in terms of how we save and can have a rational energy policy in this country means a much greater involvement with energy conservation. There is a very strong bipartisan energy conservation bill, the Shaheen-Portman bill, that could have been included in this package as well.

I think if we are going to get serious about reducing our dependence upon foreign oil, if we are going to make sure we give the American taxpayers a vision that in the future we are going to see the ability to reduce our dependence upon foreign oil that results in higher gas prices, we actually could have put together around this Keystone proposal a true compromise, a bipartisan consensus that would have included construction of Keystone, with the appropriate environmental reviews, with making sure those key areas of Nebraska are protected, with the inclusion of the energy tax cuts and provisions that we do on an annual basis, and that we continue to allow wind, solar, and other renewable energy production to continue, and a meaningful energy conservation bill--the Shaheen-Portman bill.

I believe those three policies linked together would have resulted in a vote that would have been overwhelmingly bipartisan and would have been a demonstration to the American people that we are going to get out of our respective fox holes and put the beginnings of a truly comprehensive energy policy in place.

Unfortunately, I don't think we are going to have that happen. We are going to have a straight up-or-down vote on Keystone that dismisses any of the appropriate review processes and doesn't bring in the issues around the so-called energy tax extenders or the conservation bipartisan legislation that was put together by Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman. Instead of getting a more comprehensive vote this afternoon, which I believe would have passed overwhelmingly, we are going to end up with one more vote that will, for the most part, break down on partisan lines. I am disappointed in that.

I do believe we need construction of the Keystone Pipeline. I believe we need meaningful energy conservation legislation and meaningful tax policy that promotes renewable energy around solar, wind, and biomass. Unfortunately, we are going to miss the opportunity today to send that strong signal of a comprehensive ``all-of-the-above'' energy policy that would actually move this Nation forward.
I know my friend, the Senator from Texas, is no longer here. I would have loved to have been able to support a comprehensive package that would have allowed the Keystone effort to move forward in conjunction with these other efforts. Unfortunately, that will not happen. Perhaps later in the year we will have the ability to cobble together something that includes more of an ``all-of-the-above'' energy policy and we can actually get about the business of making sure we have a national energy policy.

But there is no silver bullet. We were going to need to make sure we take advantage of all of the energy resources we have in this country--oil, gas, offshore oil, nuclear, and appropriate revenue sharing with States--such as my State of Virginia--and energy conservation and renewables as well. The sooner we get to that debate, the sooner we can build the bipartisan coalitions that will allow that kind of policy to move forward.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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