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Energy Issues

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. POE of Texas. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Tonight, I and other Members of the House are going to talk about energy issues in the United States.

Probably a timely thing to start with are the recent comments by one of the individuals who works for the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA. The more we learn about the EPA, the more we learn that they are hostile to real American energy for various reasons. Let me give you some historical perspective that makes this continuous assault on the oil and gas industry make sense to us now in 2012.

It seems that back in 2010, 2 years ago, EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz stood up on his bureaucratic pedestal of power and spelled out the true intentions that he had and the goals of the EPA. He declared that the EPA--and he declared this from his marble palace here in Washington, D.C.--that the EPA would target the oil and gas industry, calling it an ``enforcement priority'' as if, Madam Speaker, the oil and gas industry were made up of criminals.

He went on:

I was in a meeting once, and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I'll go ahead and tell you what I said.

And here is what he said, Madam Speaker:

It was kind of like how the Romans used to do--you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere. They'd find the first five guys they saw, and they'd crucify them.

That's right--they would crucify them--as if he is advocating crucifying the oil and gas industry. What a thing to say from somebody who works for the Federal Government.

He said he would make examples out of the people in the oil and gas industry. Probably unknown to him, his speech was all caught on videotape that recently surfaced. In fact, it was on the Internet YouTube last night; but today, mysteriously, it seems to have disappeared and is no longer on YouTube. That was in 2010.

These comments help us to understand the EPA's belligerent attitude against energy--American energy--against the oil and gas industry. What came after was one of the most aggressive assaults on the oil and gas industry we've ever seen. As a Wall Street Journal editorial once said, the EPA is at war with Texas. I think the EPA probably should change their name to the War Department because they are at war with America's energy. They certainly aren't concerned as much about the environment as they are about putting American energy out of business.

The oil and gas industry supports 9.2 million jobs in the United States. I wonder how many of those workers Mr. Armendariz wants to crucify all in the name of his political agenda.

Madam Speaker, we need a fair EPA, one that brings a balanced approach to the environment and to our energy industry. An attack on the energy industry is an attack, really, on the American people and American jobs. Mr. Armendariz seems to be at war with America. He does not want to really help the oil and gas industry become environmentally safe. It seems to me he wants to kill it, and the effort will kill American jobs, kill our energy, and kill our national security.

The video also shows he is not concerned about real science, not about true environmental science or, really, the facts. He just hates the oil and gas industry. So, Madam Speaker, he needs to go. He needs to be replaced with someone who cares more about the environment than personal crusades against industry.

Madam Speaker, I would like to place in the Record the Forbes article that was published today regarding the EPA official that I just mentioned.

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Mr. POE of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Burton, for your comments. I appreciate the gentleman from Indiana.

Several comments about what you said are important. The administration, the government, says drilling is up in the United States. That is true. But drilling on Federal lands is not up.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Down 11 percent.

Mr. POE of Texas. The drilling is taking place on State-owned property or private property, but other lands other than Federal lands. If it wasn't for that, drilling would be down in the United States. If we go back to the Gulf of Mexico, the same situation we have in the Gulf of Mexico has been ever since the BP incident.

Permitting is taking too long. It takes a record amount of days, sometimes months, to issue a permit in the deep water and in the shallow water. The shallow water guys operate with a very small amount of capital. They can't stay and wait around for the government to make a decision on a permit or not, so they aren't able to drill. In the deep water, those deepwater wells, those rigs, they cost $100,000 a day whether they're operating or they're sitting there, and that's why some of them have left the Gulf of Mexico to never return. They've gone down to South America; they've gone to off the coast of Africa, to drill where countries are friendlier to the drilling safely off of their coast.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. If I might, we sent $3 billion of American taxpayers' money to Brazil at a time when we have almost a $16 trillion national debt, and they're drilling in deepwater areas like we would be drilling in off the coast of Mexico. But we can't drill there because of the oil spill and because we can't get permits, so we're sending our taxpayers' dollars down to Brazil so they can do what we can't.

Mr. POE of Texas. If the gentleman will yield, we're not only sending money down there to develop their oil industry, when they develop it, we're going to buy their oil back. So we're paying them twice.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. That's right.

Mr. POE of Texas. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Now, I don't know and I don't really suspect that drilling would be the only answer for raising or lowering the gasoline prices, but it's one factor because of supply and demand. It's not the only factor, but it's one of those. It just seems to me that the United States is the only major power in the world that has an energy policy that is: We're not going to drill in the United States for all these reasons, but we want you to drill in your country your natural resources and we'll buy them from you. It seems a little bit arrogant on our part as a Nation.

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Mr. POE of Texas. If the gentleman will yield, as you mentioned about ANWR in Alaska, years ago we came up with this idea of a pipeline from Alaska bringing crude oil into the United States, and the same people that opposed that pipeline still exist today and are opposing the Keystone Pipeline. It took years for the vetting of the environmental lobby to finally be put to rest. They were concerned about the caribou. Of course, I think the caribou are doing quite well now. Finally, Congress decided not to wait on that administration and go ahead and make an approval. But Congress went ahead and approved the Alaska pipeline on its own, which became law in spite of the administration. It didn't wait for its approval. And now we know the rest of the story--it's a success 25 years later. And that's what Congress needs to do with the Keystone Pipeline.

No one has ever accused Canada of being environmentally insensitive. Their regulations are as tough as the EPA's--or even stronger. But yet they've developed a way that they can bring crude oil through a pipeline down to southeast Texas--Port Arthur, my district--in a safe, environmental way, and also one of the newest and finest pipelines. But the administration says, Not so fast. And it's unfortunate because the jobs will stay in America. Create that pipeline. Canada is not a Middle Eastern dictatorship. They're kind of a normal country.

We should approve that as soon as possible. I understand the concern in Nebraska. I'm glad to see the folks in Nebraska are working with TransCanada to reroute that 60 miles so there are no environmental issues and get this pipeline approved and start shipping that crude oil down to southeast Texas so we can use it in the United States.

It would seem to me that the United States should maybe think about this type of energy policy: we should drill safely in the United States for oil and natural gas. And I say ``safely'' because that is important. But we should also partner with the countries next to us--the Canadians to the north, who have natural resources, and the Mexicans to the south, who have an abundance of natural resources--and the three of us work together on a North American OPEC-type philosophy and be energy independent. Not just energy independent, but it will help out our national security.

And if we do that, if we work with Canada, Mexico, drill in the United States, where it's safe, we can make the Middle East irrelevant. We can make that little fellow from the desert, Ahmadinejad, and his threats about closing the Strait of Hormuz, we can make him irrelevant. We don't care what he does. We don't need to continue to send our money to other nations over there that don't like us. So maybe that's something we need to do in the United States.

Lastly, and then I'll yield to the gentleman, because of American technology, because of those folks that know how to drill safely for oil and natural gas, the United States now suddenly is becoming an abundant Nation with natural gas. And we could, if we developed it the way that we can, the United States--primarily Texas, but other States--we could become the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. We could export natural gas, we have so much of it, and bring that money into the United States, rather than constantly sending money throughout the world, all because we don't take care of what we have and use what we have.

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Mr. POE of Texas. I thank the gentleman for his participation.

Madam Speaker, it seems to me that the United States can make some decisions and solve some of our own problems. We can start with finding people in the EPA that do not have their own personal vendetta against the oil and gas industry, replace those individuals like Armendariz and get some fair and balanced bureaucrats to make sure we have a clean environment to work with our energy companies rather than against them, and stop the war against the energy companies in the U.S.

We can work and bring down the price of energy in the United States. One way, not the only way, is to make sure that we have a supply. A greater supply, as we all know, of anything, does help reduce the cost of energy, so that people in southeast Texas who have a hard time getting to work and who are paying more for products that they have to buy, just like Americans throughout our Nation are having tough times because of high gasoline prices, we owe it to them to do that, to take care of ourselves and to work with Canada and to work with Mexico so that the three countries can be a strong ally, not just politically, but that we can be strong allies with our energy economy.

With that, I'll yield back to the Chair.

And that's just the way it is.

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