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Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. LANDRIEU. It is a good thing. The Senator from Alaska is right on as usual on this subject and in the main stream of what most Americans, I believe, are thinking about.

I wanted to ask the Senator from Alaska, following his comments--I mean, why does my colleague think our friends on the Republican side want to spend this week beating up on the President as opposed to doing something that might help energy policy advance in the country? I do not know if they do not realize that people are very frightened and anxious and upset about these prices or what does the Senator think is driving this sort of theater on the Senate floor?

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Ms. LANDRIEU. I am surprised myself. I hope when we do go home constituents in all of our States will say: Stop the bumper sticker politics on the floor of the Senate and get down to passing an energy bill. I think we most certainly, if we stop electioneering and start legislating, could actually do that.

Now the Senator from Alaska and I--and I have been here a few years longer than the Senator, but he has been a most welcome addition to this issue because he is knowledgeable. He comes from a State that is larger than almost half of the lower 48. His State is rich in resources. I have had the great pleasure to go to Alaska. I am looking forward to traveling there again this summer and actually going to the North Slope because in Louisiana we build many of the ships that actually operate in Alaska for their exploration activities.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. That ship was just christened this weekend in Louisiana. So the relationship between Louisiana and Alaska goes back a long way. I am very happy to have the Senator here advocating for a smart and effective energy policy.

This debate some people are having--I do not believe I am included in that because we are having our own colloquy about serious issues. But this so-called debate that everybody else is having is going to result in nothing, just a lot of sound bites. There will be no energy policy that comes out of this because the fact is--and everyone knows this that follows this--both parties are guilty for not having the right kind of energy policy, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Democrats, from my perspective, do not appreciate the way they should the need for more domestic drilling. So they resist sometimes the need for more domestic drilling. I think Senator Begich and I have pointed out there are some places where there are people--Governors and Senators, Democratic Senators--who are open to drilling. We could go to those places and do a better job of developing onshore and offshore.

But Republicans are not good at all when it comes to conservation. They resist helping the auto industry, for instance, to retool itself, which we know has had an absolute direct bottom line on less petroleum products being used for gasoline.

Many of the new automobiles coming out of domestic manufacturers, because of what Democrats and President Obama, who led this effort--which he never gets enough credit for on the other side--have done to retool Detroit so that just this week in the newspaper, I believe it was the Washington Post--I wanted to ask the Senator from Alaska if he saw this article. The most amazing thing that has happened over the last 10 years is that our imports of foreign oil have decreased for 2 reasons: One, we are producing more oil and gas at home, although there have been some setbacks with this administration which we are not happy about, the two of us, but also because of the conservation we have done in this country.

Mass transit is a part of that, which many Republicans reject. Conservation initiatives are a major part of that, which Republicans reject. Helping the domestic auto industry, which they--even Mitt Romney, their leader on the Republican side, said that was a mistake to help Detroit, Ohio, et cetera, Michigan and places in Ohio.

So I am coming to the floor to say this blame game is not going to work because both parties are almost equally at fault. Senator Begich and I would like to believe that we represent a little bit of the Democratic side, a little bit of the Republican side, coming from States--both of us being Democrats but from States that know something about drilling.

I want to put up my map of Louisiana so people believe when I say that we know something about drilling.

This is what my State looks like. Some people might not like this picture. This is the oil and gas infrastructure in Louisiana. To someone who is a purist and does not like pipelines and does not like oil wells and does not like leases, they may recoil at this. But people in Louisiana like this because this is about money, and it is about domestic energy self-sufficiency and independence.

These are pipelines. There are 9,000 miles of pipelines under south Louisiana. We have been drilling onshore and offshore for the last 50 years. Until the Macondo Well blew up in spectacular fashion and killed 11 people, which is very unfortunate and the fault of BP and some of the contractors who were not doing their jobs correctly, it has been mostly successful. We have drilled 40,000 wells--40,000.

So when the Senator from Alaska says we know something about oil and gas drilling, trust me; it would be like asking the Senators from Michigan: Do you know something about building cars? We know about that. We have been fracking. We have been using horizontal drilling. We know there is a lot of oil and gas still to be found, and the Senator talked about some of his reserves.

I know the Senator is aware that Louisiana--just off the coast of Louisiana--produces just about as much oil as we import from Saudi Arabia every year. I do not know if the Senator knows that.

How are the reserves looking in Alaska?

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Ms. LANDRIEU. It is a very good paying job. This is a very good point because I have tried to remind everyone here that this oil and gas industry that exists in Louisiana and Alaska does not just support the people of our States. Think about it. There are only 500,000 people in Alaska. If that is going to create 50,000 jobs, that would be 1 for every 10 people. But people fly in and fly out. They will work for 2 weeks or a month and fly back. We have people working on our rigs that are from Maine or from Colorado or from New Mexico or from New York.

Most of the people who work offshore are from the Gulf Coast States, I might say. You can tell this when you drive through the parking lots and see the license plates which are easy to spot. But I can tell you there are people from all over the country who work in this industry.

If I showed you a supplier line, you would see supplies coming from all over the United States to fund the operations like, for instance, the boat that is going to be operating in Alaska was built by people from Louisiana. Some of those boats are built in Mississippi, and some of that may even come from the east coast. I do not know if the Senator is familiar with that.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. It is also producing great wealth. I do not think people understand because a lot of the land in the West is public land. So we hear this debate about public land, et cetera. But most of the land in my State is private land. In fact, the Federal Government owns less than 2.5 percent.

Now, we are at polar ends of this debate. We are at opposite ends because in Alaska the Federal Government owns 90 percent of that State. It only owns 2.5 percent of my State, and the farther east you go it is less and less and less.

So when there is more drilling, like in Louisiana, it is private land owners who are getting wealthy. In many of these instances, such as in the Haynesville shale, which is up along this area in Louisiana, northwest Louisiana, farmers whose land was virtually worthless or who were growing crops but not really making it very well, now the gas has been discovered on their land, so they are getting royalty checks for $10,000 a month, $20,000 a month. That is more money that people have made or ever dreamed about making. I have heard of royalty checks of $50,000 a month that people are getting. So they take that $50,000, they are not even drilling for oil and gas; they have just leased their property. They go out and start a business in their hometown or they go out and buy two new automobiles for their family or a new pickup truck for their operations.

I know the Senator understands the indirect impact. It is not just the direct jobs for the industry, but the wealth that is created personally, and the U.S. Government collects quite a bit of taxes from this industry as well.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. We don't have to drill everywhere. The resources are so spectacularly promising. I have to get back to this blaming President Obama. I don't know if my friends on the other side remember who the President was when the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, a Republican, opposed drilling off the eastern gulf. The President at the time, his brother, George Bush, honored that no drilling pledge. I remind my friends on the other side that their party is not blameless in this debate. They could do a lot better for the country if they would stop trying to throw President Obama under the bus every minute--although I don't agree with all his energy policies; I didn't agree with the moratorium in the gulf and other things. I think they made some strong points. But this should not be about hurting anybody; it should be about helping our country. We do that by using a balanced approach, such as the Senator from Alaska said. It is how we came together on the Transportation bill. It was balanced, a compromise, and it was a little of this and a little of that. We put a jobs bill together that will help our Nation.

We could put an energy bill together if we have both parties stop beating up on people. One beats up on the companies and the other beats up on the President and the poor people are the ones who suffer.

I wish to show you something about oil and gas taxes. People say: There goes Landrieu again; she is defending the oil and gas industry. Frankly, some of them, and the industry itself, should be defended because it is an honorable, good industry. It has provided jobs. It provided the oil we needed to win World War II. How do you think the allied troops got across Europe? They didn't do it on a wish and a prayer. That oil came out of the Permian Basin in Texas. We have a long patriotic history in that industry. We get our dander up when people beat up on the industry.

People say the oil industry gets these subsidies. I wish to put two things into the Record. It says that according to the Energy Information Administration--which is our administration, not a third-party spinmeister group. It says in the study published in 2008 that oil and natural gas received only 13 percent of the subsidy but produced 60 percent of the energy needed to power our country. I will repeat that. The oil and gas industry receives only 13 percent of all the subsidies, but we produce 60 percent of the energy that keeps the lights on in this building and powers everything in the country. We spend about $16.6 billion on U.S. energy subsidies over the course of 1 year on everything, and renewables, refined coal, nuclear, and others accounted for more than 85 percent of the subsidies.

So the oil and gas industry got less than 13 percent of the subsidies, but they continue to be the bogeyman in all this. In addition to receiving only 13 percent of the subsidies--and my friend from Alaska will know this as well--look what tax rate they pay. ConocoPhillips paid 46 percent. This was the effective tax rate from 2006 to 2010. Chevron paid 43 percent. They made a lot of money. They are absolutely making a lot of money. These are public companies, and their executives are paid well. I think they are probably paid a little more than I would pay, but that is what they are paid. These are public companies, and the shareholders are making money as well. But they are paying this very high rate in taxes.

Look down here on the chart. Walmart only paid 33 percent. Philip Morris only paid 27 percent. PepsiCo--a very good company--only paid 24 percent. These are effective tax rates. My favorite--although I like them very much, but GE only paid a 9-percent effective tax rate.

When the Senator says we need tax reform, we most certainly do. If you came to me and said in a major bill we are going to have an energy bill and have some tax reforms to balance this out, I would be for that. But in good conscience, I cannot take away the subsidy from oil and gas when they only represent 13 percent of the overall subsidies but produce 60 percent of the energy. I certainly don't want to raise taxes on an industry now with prices at the pump being so high. If we do, we are just going to drive them up, which is the last thing we want to do, particularly when this is the truth about the tax rates. The Senator from Alaska is again absolutely correct. This debate we are not having but everyone else is having is not getting us very far.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. We don't have to drill everywhere. The resources are so spectacularly promising. I have to get back to this blaming President Obama. I don't know if my friends on the other side remember who the President was when the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, a Republican, opposed drilling off the eastern gulf. The President at the time, his brother, George Bush, honored that no drilling pledge. I remind my friends on the other side that their party is not blameless in this debate. They could do a lot better for the country if they would stop trying to throw President Obama under the bus every minute--although I don't agree with all his energy policies; I didn't agree with the moratorium in the gulf and other things. I think they made some strong points. But this should not be about hurting anybody; it should be about helping our country. We do that by using a balanced approach, such as the Senator from Alaska said. It is how we came together on the Transportation bill. It was balanced, a compromise, and it was a little of this and a little of that. We put a jobs bill together that will help our Nation.

We could put an energy bill together if we have both parties stop beating up on people. One beats up on the companies and the other beats up on the President and the poor people are the ones who suffer.

I wish to show you something about oil and gas taxes. People say: There goes Landrieu again; she is defending the oil and gas industry. Frankly, some of them, and the industry itself, should be defended because it is an honorable, good industry. It has provided jobs. It provided the oil we needed to win World War II. How do you think the allied troops got across Europe? They didn't do it on a wish and a prayer. That oil came out of the Permian Basin in Texas. We have a long patriotic history in that industry. We get our dander up when people beat up on the industry.

People say the oil industry gets these subsidies. I wish to put two things into the Record. It says that according to the Energy Information Administration--which is our administration, not a third-party spinmeister group. It says in the study published in 2008 that oil and natural gas received only 13 percent of the subsidy but produced 60 percent of the energy needed to power our country. I will repeat that. The oil and gas industry receives only 13 percent of all the subsidies, but we produce 60 percent of the energy that keeps the lights on in this building and powers everything in the country. We spend about $16.6 billion on U.S. energy subsidies over the course of 1 year on everything, and renewables, refined coal, nuclear, and others accounted for more than 85 percent of the subsidies.

So the oil and gas industry got less than 13 percent of the subsidies, but they continue to be the bogeyman in all this. In addition to receiving only 13 percent of the subsidies--and my friend from Alaska will know this as well--look what tax rate they pay. ConocoPhillips paid 46 percent. This was the effective tax rate from 2006 to 2010. Chevron paid 43 percent. They made a lot of money. They are absolutely making a lot of money. These are public companies, and their executives are paid well. I think they are probably paid a little more than I would pay, but that is what they are paid. These are public companies, and the shareholders are making money as well. But they are paying this very high rate in taxes.

Look down here on the chart. Walmart only paid 33 percent. Philip Morris only paid 27 percent. PepsiCo--a very good company--only paid 24 percent. These are effective tax rates. My favorite--although I like them very much, but GE only paid a 9-percent effective tax rate.

When the Senator says we need tax reform, we most certainly do. If you came to me and said in a major bill we are going to have an energy bill and have some tax reforms to balance this out, I would be for that. But in good conscience, I cannot take away the subsidy from oil and gas when they only represent 13 percent of the overall subsidies but produce 60 percent of the energy. I certainly don't want to raise taxes on an industry now with prices at the pump being so high. If we do, we are just going to drive them up, which is the last thing we want to do, particularly when this is the truth about the tax rates. The Senator from Alaska is again absolutely correct. This debate we are not having but everyone else is having is not getting us very far.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. Yes. I wish to reemphasize too the importance of getting back to the basics on energy policy. I have been privileged to be here long enough where I have helped to pass comprehensive energy bills. I remain hopeful when I wake too. I am a person with the glass half full and not half empty, and I try to remain optimistic in the face of evidence to the contrary. I remain hopeful we can continue on the path of more energy independence for our country. That is why that article, written this week, which I will put in the Record, was very telling to me, because I have been saying, similar to the Senator from Alaska, are we making any progress? I believe if we cannot manage, we cannot measure. What is the measurement? One of the measurements is, are we importing more or less oil from dangerous places in the world.

And when I saw that had dropped by 15 percent, I was very encouraged.

And the article pointed out two reasons, not one--not drill, baby, drill or conserve and conserve only but both, because America has been doing a better job. Despite the setback of the moratorium, despite the setback with the Deepwater Horizon, despite some of the President's slow policies on drilling, and despite the Republican resistance to conservation, we have been doing something right, because we have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, which is good.

We don't want to be dependent on Venezuela, and we don't want to be dependent on the Mideast, particularly Saudi Arabia. They have been somewhat of an ally, but they do not share all our values, let's be honest. Women just got the right to drive this year--no, actually, to vote this year. I don't think they have the right to drive yet officially. So do we share those values? No.

So why don't we kind of get back to the basics here of drilling more at home, promoting and expanding our nuclear industry safely. And I mean drilling where it is safe and not everywhere, as some Republicans suggest--let's drill everywhere. We don't have to drill everywhere; we just have to be smart and strategic about where we drill, compromise some about the places that are really opposed to it. We can drill more, have revenue sharing, which makes sense with the coastal States of Alaska, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama because that builds a strong partnership and stakeholders between the local, State, and Federal governments.

I think we could do more on building efficiency. We can do more on natural gas vehicles. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the kinds of vehicles that run on electricity or on--and I don't know if this is possible yet, but we could experiment on electricity, on natural gas or on petroleum fuels or on diesel or bio so that if the price of natural gas was low, you would just sort of power yourself on natural gas. If your electric bill is low because you are on nuclear and the nuclear price is low and you are getting your electricity from your nuclear powerplant, you just plug in your automobile and you pay very little.

Why can't we break this dependency by producing more of everything at home and transforming our auto industry, which is the big pull on fuel. You know, our industries run on coal or natural gas or some oil, but the real pull on this oil is our automobiles.

So that is why Republicans are wrong. They do not want to fund this transformation, but we have to fund the transformation to help America move from an old-fashioned petrochemical, where we just fill up at the pump because we only have one thing to get--and that is petroleum--to where we can fill up with several other things. This isn't pie in the sky, this is happening right now. But with a little more government investment, it could happen more, and wouldn't that be a relief?

The Senator from Alaska will know this, and I don't want to misquote here because I could get in trouble, so I will be careful, but if we had a system like that and the price of gasoline was $10, no one would care. Do you know why? Because they wouldn't have to use it. Think about that. You wouldn't have to buy it. You wouldn't need it for your airplanes, you wouldn't need it for your trucks or your cars because we would have created a system of choice. And choice is power for the consumer--really good choice. They could fill up their car with natural gas or they could fill it up with another source. That is where we need to go. Then we will break it. We will break the dependency because it could be $10 or $100 a gallon and who would care, because no one would have to buy it.

So that is where we need to go. We can get there. We are sort of creeping there. That is what this article also said--inch by inch we are getting there, but we could accelerate it--no pun intended--if we get off this ridiculous ``blame the person in the White House so you can win the next election and then get back to doing nothing.''

So I will turn the conclusion over to the Senator from Alaska by saying that the debate with sound bites for elections coming up and bumper stickers to put on cars will not help, but I am ready for a real debate.

We have introduced several pieces of legislation. I have been a cosponsor of every piece of legislation since I have been here on any kind of major Energy bill, but it has to have a conservation component, it has to have an environmental safety component, it has to have more drilling, revenue sharing, and then I think an expansion of nuclear power would be very important and the right subsidy mix for the kinds of energy we would like to produce in this Nation. That would make our Nation much stronger when it comes to energy, but it would make us so economically powerful and it would make us militarily more powerful because we would negotiate treaties differently if we didn't have to get on our hands and knees and ask countries that don't even share our values to pump a little more gas for us when we could pump it ourselves.

I yield to the Senator from Alaska.

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Ms. LANDRIEU. I thank the Senator.

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