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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARDNER. I thank the Chair and I yield myself the balance of my time.

Sixty four thousand eight hundred five jobs, $4.3 billion in wages, $14.9 billion in annual economic impact. That is the number of jobs, the amount of wages, and the economic impact that we would have seen today if not for the backlog of BLM projects over the past 3 years.

Sixty-five thousand jobs. There are 22 proposed projects in the Western United States that would create nearly 121,000 jobs.

Over the past few years, we have seen gas prices increase dramatically: $3.50, $3.60, $3.70. Since we've heard debate on the House floor tonight, they're going down. Even a flood can be lowered by a foot the next day, but it's still a flood. Our constituents who are paying $60, $70 to fill up with a tank of gas to drive their families to school, trying to put food on the table, to get to work, cannot afford high energy prices year after year.

This bill presents us with an opportunity to create jobs to build on American energy independence, to make sure that we are doing the one thing that we set out to do, and that is improve the economic chances of this country, our competitiveness, and the lives of our constituents. But they can't do it with gas prices exceeding $3, $4. What's next? Because here we are again.

The policies presented in this bill will allow us to cut through red tape and to increase exploration on our great lands in the Western United States across this country in an environmentally responsible fashion. It will allow us to make sure that when we access the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because of a supply problem that we're also addressing a long-term supply fix instead of just quick-fix politics.

We have an opportunity to make sure that when it comes to the regulations that are driving up the price of gasoline--and they have a real impact; we have both heard before our committee testimony from EPA administrators who say, yes, it will increase the price of gasoline--we stop and take a look before we leap to make sure that we are analyzing to understand the impact they will have on our constituents, who continue to suffer.

The best way to improve our economy is to make sure that we are unleashing every sector of our economy. And yes, that means renewable energy. This bill includes renewable energy. It takes a 4-year look at renewable energy on public lands, to take advantage of our opportunity with solar on Federal lands, with wind on Federal lands. But we will not sit idly by while our constituents pay thousands of dollars a more each year to put fuel in the tank, competing with the food on their table.

And so, Mr. Chair, this bill presents us all with a great chance to increase our energy supply, create American jobs, and make sure that we understand the full ramifications of regulations and drawdowns of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve before we act. And I think it's important that we send one strong message to our constituents that we've heard you. We've heard you loud and clear. And we are going to do everything we can to improve our economy, bring down the cost of energy, create jobs. That's when this Congress will do our job. This Congress will do our job when we pass this legislation, and I urge passage of H.R. 4480.

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Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, we had a discussion on this very issue in the Energy and Commerce Committee, and we made very clear that the language dealing with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve did not affect existing land management policies or management policies, or those policies in place to protect our resources.

So, again, we actually adopted an amendment by Chairman DINGELL, the gentleman from Michigan, the chairman emeritus, to make sure that we restated that this does not change or affect our Federal land management policies and those intended to protect our Federal resources. So we made that clear in the Energy and Commerce provisions in this bill as well.

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Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, we heard a lot of powerful words there: ban, bar, block. The fact is that this bill does not ban, bar, or block these regulations. In fact, nothing prevents and nothing bars, bans, or blocks the EPA from developing rules on their current schedule. And nothing bars, bans, or blocks the EPA from protecting the public health and the environment as the law requires them to do so. In fact, it's quite commonly known that the EPA is unlikely to even finalize these rules prior to the completion of the study.

We've already got tremendous protections in current law, stringent regulations, some of which were just issued in the past few months. But I think we ought to take a look to understand what impact regulations are going to have on the cost of people's energy.

Our colleague mentioned picking up the tab. I'll tell you who else is picking up the tab: people in poverty are picking up the tab of increasing energy costs, which is making it more and more difficult for them to make ends meet. They are picking up the tab of rising gas prices, costing $50, $60, $70 a tank to fill up with gas to drive to work. That's who is picking up the tab, our constituents who are trying to lift themselves up and out of poverty and are having difficulty trying to make ends meet because of rising energy prices, because this Congress refuses to enact legislation that says, Hey, let's look before we leap and understand the impact these regulations are going to have on the price of gasoline.

Again, the purpose of the bill is to require a study. Nothing in this bill relieves the administrator of the EPA from the responsibility to issue rules required by the Clean Air Act or any other legal obligation. Nothing in this bill changes the EPA's obligation to protect the public health. Nothing in this bill prevents the EPA from developing and proposing new regulations, taking public comments, or from preparing a final rule, a process that typically requires at least a year. In fact, it would be highly unlikely, as I said before, that they could even both propose and finalize this rule before the study was finished.

Our colleague also mentioned that we don't know enough information about proposed regulations to study them. EPA's own action development process--the internal ways that the EPA works, their own internal action development process--requires that the analysis of a regulation start early in the rule development. So they're already talking about what impact these have, including the President's own executive orders that require agencies to perform analysis and consider the cumulative effects of regulations. So this is an unnecessary amendment.

Our colleague mentioned some of the most toxic emitters of air pollution. There's a lot of people around the country that believe the most toxic emitter of air pollution is Congress. In this case, some of those arguments have been used in the bill on this amendment.

I would just urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

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Mr. GARDNER. Reclaiming my time, again, I'm not in a position to tell constituents who may find it tough to make ends meet that it's okay if we increase your price of gasoline by a penny here and a penny there, a couple of pennies, maybe even a nickel.

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Mr. GARDNER. Reclaiming my time, we know that a penny increase in a gallon of gasoline, the Federal Trade Commission has said, can be a significant burden, meaning as much as $4 million to individuals and businesses around the country for every single penny in the increase of the price of gasoline.

Again, this does not prevent the EPA from developing rules on the current schedule. It says, Look before you leap. That's why I object to this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARDNER. Again, I believe this amendment is unnecessary, talking about ambiguities and the silence in the law when it comes to the Clean Air Act in the determination of cost. Here the issue of cost was silent, and we are simply saying we ought to have the issue of cost brought into this.

When the term ``public health'' appeared in the first Federal Clean Air legislation in 1955, its ordinary meaning was ``the health of the community.'' In the American Trucking decision, as you pointed out, the Supreme Court affirmed that the definition of public health is ``the health of the public'' and does not refer to the health of nonliving entities.

The Clean Air Act requires that ambient air quality standards be established to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety. Nothing--nothing--in H.R. 4480 changes the definition of ``public health.'' Again, let me say that: Nothing in H.R. 4480 changes the definition of ``public health'' in the Clean Air Act or any obligations. It doesn't change any obligations to set such human health-based standards.

So I would urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and with that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, I have great respect for my colleague from Texas. We've worked on a couple of pieces of legislation together over the year and a half that I have been on the committee. I have the honor of serving with him on the Energy and Commerce Committee. But I also must rise again to oppose the amendment from our colleague from Texas.

Once again, under this bill, nothing in the gasoline regulations act stops the EPA from developing rules on their current schedule. Nothing in this prevents the EPA from protecting the public health and the environment, as the law requires them to do.

But as we talked in the previous amendment, consideration of the cost and the feasibility of these major rules is elsewhere throughout the law. And it is warranted because, in this case, a failure to consider those costs could hurt jobs and the economy. We need to know.

In fact, costs are required in other parts of the Clean Air Act. And EPA must consider costs in the context of setting New Source Performance Standards, automobile emission standards, aircraft emission standards, fuel additives, and reformulated gasoline standards. And it's also a matter that you have to consider costs when setting future drinking water standards in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

And if you hearken back to last year when President Obama decided that he was going to withdraw his last ozone rule, one of the comments that he made when he was withdrawing that ozone rule, which we argued would have greatly imperiled our economy--here's a quote from President Obama:

I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.

So when the President was talking about the Clean Air Act, he recognized ozone; he recognized the importance of taking a look at our economic uncertainty and the economic uncertainty of his last ozone rule.

So I appreciate our colleague's amendment, but I certainly have to oppose it at this time. I urge the rest of my colleagues to oppose it as well.

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Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, again, to repeat, to reiterate, to restate this point: Nothing in this bill--nothing in this bill--changes the EPA's obligation to protect the public health with an adequate safety margin. Nothing changes the obligation to protect the public health.

And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, I want to tell a little bit of a story. I grew up and live in a very small town in the eastern plains of Colorado. There are about 3,000 people who live in this small town. And when I was growing up, there was a mother and her daughter who lived across the street from where I was growing up in a little home. They had an older car. And in this small town, the grocery stores, gosh, can't be more than four blocks away. But when they went to the grocery store, they walked.

As the years went by and the mother got older, they still walked to the grocery store. In the winter, a lot of times they walked. And in the summer, they walked. I remember asking them one time, they have a car, how come they're not driving? It's just four blocks away. And as she got older and it was more difficult to walk, her response was because we can't afford the gas. That's four blocks of driving. It can't use much gasoline. But the fact is, the price of gas mattered to that family. It made the difference of getting groceries, putting food on the table.

We talk about people's ability to afford health care. If you're left with the option of getting to work or buying health care insurance, what are you going to do? What choice are you going to make?

By making sure that we have abundant, affordable energy, we are making sure that families can make ends meet easier, that they can make those choices to go see the doctor when they need to, because high prices of energy certainly impact the ability of families to lift themselves out of poverty to make sure that they're improving their own lives.

Your amendment would stop the look that we're asking to take at what regulations do when it comes to the price of gasoline, when it comes to the price of energy. Nothing in this bill prevents the EPA from developing rules on their current schedule, but it does say we need to understand the impact that they are going to have on the price of gasoline, because I bet those neighbors of mine are very interested in what government is doing to increase the cost of them getting to the grocery store or not, and maybe they could drive when it's cold outside.

Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, I want to tell a little bit of a story. I grew up and live in a very small town in the eastern plains of Colorado. There are about 3,000 people who live in this small town. And when I was growing up, there was a mother and her daughter who lived across the street from where I was growing up in a little home. They had an older car. And in this small town, the grocery stores, gosh, can't be more than four blocks away. But when they went to the grocery store, they walked.

As the years went by and the mother got older, they still walked to the grocery store. In the winter, a lot of times they walked. And in the summer, they walked. I remember asking them one time, they have a car, how come they're not driving? It's just four blocks away. And as she got older and it was more difficult to walk, her response was because we can't afford the gas. That's four blocks of driving. It can't use much gasoline. But the fact is, the price of gas mattered to that family. It made the difference of getting groceries, putting food on the table.

We talk about people's ability to afford health care. If you're left with the option of getting to work or buying health care insurance, what are you going to do? What choice are you going to make?

By making sure that we have abundant, affordable energy, we are making sure that families can make ends meet easier, that they can make those choices to go see the doctor when they need to, because high prices of energy certainly impact the ability of families to lift themselves out of poverty to make sure that they're improving their own lives.

Your amendment would stop the look that we're asking to take at what regulations do when it comes to the price of gasoline, when it comes to the price of energy. Nothing in this bill prevents the EPA from developing rules on their current schedule, but it does say we need to understand the impact that they are going to have on the price of gasoline, because I bet those neighbors of mine are very interested in what government is doing to increase the cost of them getting to the grocery store or not, and maybe they could drive when it's cold outside.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GARDNER. Mr. Chairman, if I could reclaim my time so that I can have the ability to close on my amendment, and I appreciate my colleague's debate on this.

But again, this issue is not about stopping or blocking the EPA from doing it, because they're fully able to develop rules on their current schedule. Nothing prevents them from protecting the public health and the environment as the law requires them to do--nothing. So your amendment, though, when you talk about rules affecting gas prices should be delayed until the report is completed because those rules could increase gas prices; that's all we're trying to do. Allowing a single member of this committee, which your amendment would do, to circumvent the analysis would defeat the purpose of the act.

Gas prices impact, as we know, all parts of our economy, and we need to have multiple experts. But the EIA, of which your amendment deals with, doesn't have the expertise in national competitiveness. They don't have the expertise in job impacts or agriculture or health benefits analysis.

Again, I think we have just got to be at the point where we let the American people know what's happening to the price of gasoline because of these regulations.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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