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Transportation, Housing And Urban Development, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014 - Motion to Proceed - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my distinguished colleague from West Virginia in this discussion of an energy source that is vital to our Nation, and that is coal. North Dakota, like the great State of West Virginia, is a major coal-producing State and a major energy-producing State.

I think my distinguished colleague from West Virginia hit the nail on the head when he said we need a comprehensive energy plan in this country that is truly

``all of the above.'' We need to use all of our energy resources. And different States have different types of energy, and every type of energy has different strengths and weaknesses. The kind of energy we produce in one part of the country or the source of producing that energy is different than in another part of the country.

But the point is that if we take an ``all of the above'' approach, we can be truly energy independent in this country, but also think of the jobs and the economic growth that come with it. My colleague just went through how coal, for example, creates tremendous jobs, and he is right--good-paying jobs. So when we talk about an ``all of the above'' energy approach, we are talking not just about national security in terms of energy independence--not depending on the Middle East or Venezuela or these other places for our energy; that is national security--but it is also about economic growth and jobs and opportunity, a great living for families, a great way to earn and generate income for families across this Nation. That is what a real ``all of the above'' energy approach is about.

So when the administration talks about an ``all of the above'' energy plan, they have to not just talk about it, they have to do it. It is not just talking about it; it is making it happen. The way you make it happen is you have a clear legal, regulatory, and tax climate that encourages investment, does not hold it up, encourages investment, does not tie it up in redtape and regulation that prevents that investment. When you make that investment, what happens is you not only produce more energy, but you deploy these new technologies that do it with better environmental stewardship.

So let's go back to the issue of coal. My distinguished colleague is talking about coal in his State. Well, coal in North Dakota--we are a major producer of coal, and we are a powerhouse for energy in this country--not just coal but oil and gas. We do renewables, solar, biodiesel, ethanol. We do wind. We do all of them. But in the area of coal, we are one of the leaders in deploying these new technologies, and as a result we are one of 14 States in the Nation that meet all ambient air quality requirements nationally. Think about that. Here we are, we are a major coal-producing State, we are a major electricity-producing State, yet we are one of 14 States in the country that meet all ambient air quality requirements.

What am I saying? What I am saying is that when you empower that investment that gets that capital invested in these new technologies, you deploy that technology, you produce more energy, you create great jobs, you grow our economy, and you get better environmental stewardship.

Mr. MANCHIN. Will the Senator yield for a question.

Mr. HOEVEN. I will.

Mr. MANCHIN. If I may ask the Senator this, the Senator and I know the facts of what we do in our States and how we do it and how much energy we produce. Both of our States are energy-producing States. We are net exporters of energy, correct?

Mr. HOEVEN. Correct.

Mr. MANCHIN. Here in Washington, in the atmosphere that you are looked upon, let's say, in the atmosphere you enter into, do they believe we just throw caution to the wind and we do not care about the environment because we come from an energy State? Is that what the Senator is finding when he talks to other colleagues who might not know what an energy-producing State is about, but they sure like what we do?

Mr. HOEVEN. I would respond to my colleague, that is exactly what I am saying. Here we are, a major coal-producing State. We are one of 14 States that meet all ambient air quality requirements. We are No. 1 in surface reclamation, land reclamation--No. 1 in the country. We are rated right at the top in terms of our water and saving our lakes and protecting our water programs.

That is the point the Senator is making. That is the point I try to make all the time. With a States-first approach, States are the ones that can not only encourage that investment but take tremendous pains to make sure they are protecting the environment, growing the economy, and taking care of people who live in those States as well. That is why what we need to do to truly have an ``all of the above'' energy plan for this country is to empower States and empower that investment that we are talking about for all types of energy. Do not say ``all of the above'' as a Federal Government and then come up with regulations that prevent, block, preclude the very investment we need to deploy these technologies and produce energy from coal and other sources.

Mr. MANCHIN. Let me ask another question. If the plan the President has put forward makes it almost impossible to build another coal plant--and maybe shut down many in this country--is there still going to be a demand for our coal overseas? Will we be exporting that coal? It will be burned somewhere in the world.

Mr. HOEVEN. Again, my colleague makes a great point and a factual point; that is, what we are seeing happening as a result of the redtape and the regulations the administration is continuing to put forward and is proposing again to add to in its most recent policy pronouncement on energy--the net effect of that is to preclude investment, is to preclude not only developing new plants with the latest, greatest technologies that will help us take steps forward, exciting steps forward in clean coal technology, but it is forcing existing plants to shut down because the requirements are not feasible, they cannot be met with the current technology. As you shut those plants down, you not only lose the energy, lose the jobs, lose the economic growth here at home, but the coal then is still mined and now exported to other countries, where it is consumed in those other countries that have lower standards than we do.

And think--and think--if, instead, you empower the kind of investment in technology I am talking about in this country, other countries would follow us, so that then when they use their coal, they use these new technologies as well, and on a global basis you start to actually reduce emissions and produce better environmental stewardship.

Again, I would turn back to my colleague for his thoughts.

Mr. MANCHIN. Let me just say this to the Senator. I found out today--the information I received today was most disturbing from this standpoint: We all know that if we could develop and have a partnership with our government--with the EPA, with the Department of Energy--of finding the latest, greatest of technology that helped us still be able to use the most abundant resource--and the resource that is in the most demand for the whole world, correct--if we could do that, then we could truly make a difference in the global climate--we truly could--worldwide.

I found out today--I am going to make sure these figures are accurate--that there is $8 billion. So the administration can tell me and you: Senators, guess what. We still have $8 billion for clean coal technology in a line item for the Department of Energy.

Guess what. That $8 billion has been line-itemed since 2008. Not one project has been approved for which to use the money. I do not know if you found that. We have not had the technology perfected on a commercial basis for carbon capture sequestration. You have a coal-to-liquid plant, I believe. It has worked well for how many years?

Mr. HOEVEN. I would say to my colleague, he is exactly right. He hit the nail on the head. We are talking about clean coal technology and encouraging development in clean coal technology. But to do it, we have to have regulations that are attainable and feasible that encourage the kind of investment we are talking about.

The project the Senator is referring to is the Dakota Gasification Company, which has been operating now in our State successfully for years. It actually takes coal and converts it to synthetic natural gas--natural gas. That natural gas then goes into a pipeline, goes for all different uses, and meets the CO2 requirements the administration is talking about attaining right now because it is natural gas.

So it meets that natural gas standard. The coal, we burn. Then we capture the CO2, we compress it, put it in a pipeline, and it goes into the oilfields for a tertiary or secondary recovery. So we are also producing more oil for mature oilfields. That is an example of the technology and the capital investment and kind of regulatory environment that encourages technology development to not only produce more energy, more jobs, and growing the economy, but as my colleague is pointing out, better environmental stewardship.

That is how to get it done, not just in this country but globally. So the Senator is exactly right.

Mr. MANCHIN. I want to ask my friend this question: Does he believe he could have built that plant in North Dakota today under the regulations that the EPA and this administration were to put in front of him?

Mr. HOEVEN. This is exactly the point. We need these kinds of projects. Work with us as States to empower that kind of development, not shut it off. The Senator is exactly right.

Mr. MANCHIN. What we are saying is how many people would think in West Virginia we have one of the largest wind farms east of the Mississippi? How many do you think really understand that? They think we are all just a one-horse show. We have wind, we have gas, we have coal. We have hydro and biofuel. We are all in. We are trying to use every resource we have the best we can.

All we are asking for is a partnership. It is so hard to find. The people cannot understand. There is an old saying back home: You cannot live with me, and you cannot live without me. I guarantee you will live a lot better with me than you will without me.

This country cannot live with us today and cannot live without us, but they have lived pretty darn good and will live a lot better if they will work with us than against us. I think that is what we are seeing. Our little States are doing the heavy lifting. Our little States have done the heavy lifting. We are providing the energy this country needs. We are providing the economic opportunities to compete globally. If they continue to overregulate to the point they strangle us, they are strangling the economics of this country.

I am just praying to the Good Lord they will listen to us.

Mr. HOEVEN. I would say to my distinguished colleague, I have been to West Virginia. It is an absolutely beautiful State. It is breathtaking, with its hills and valleys and bridges over rivers. It is just a gorgeous, beautiful State.

As my distinguished colleague was saying, what we are talking about is an opportunity. We have a real opportunity to do this and do it right, but we have to get the Federal Government to work with us, whether it is the great State of West Virginia, the great State of North Dakota, or across this country. And it is not just in coal. It is in all of these different types of energy. But you have to work with the States. You have to take a States-first approach that empowers them, that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of this country. That is what we need, not a big regulatory maze that nobody can get through. We are talking about common sense that empowers us to do things that can make a big difference for this country.

Mr. MANCHIN. The only thing I would say to my good friend is, we are a Democrat and a Republican from two energy States. It is not bipartisan. Energy should have no partisanship. Energy basically is something we all need and we all use. When you open that refrigerator, you need that energy to keep it cool. When you go into a house out of 100-degree weather, you need to be cool and comfortable. You need energy as a basic quality of life. That has basically made us different from most every Nation.

Every developing nation today is trying everything they can to deliver what we take for granted. All we are asking for is for our President--he is my President, he is your President, he is all of our President. We want to work with him. We want him to be our partner. Do not be my adversary; be my ally. Work with me. We can do it. But we have to be serious about it.

If there is $8 billion sitting on the sideline at the Department of Energy, and you are telling me you are going to use that for clean coal technology, let's start using it. Let's be a leader of the whole world and show the other 7 billion tons of coal that is being consumed in the world how you can do it and do it better. I think that is really what we are saying.

To my good friend from North Dakota, I appreciate so much the approach he has been taking, a most commonsense, a most reasonable, responsible approach. We have been friends for a long time. We were both Governors of our respective States. We worked together. We tried to solve problems. It is exactly what we are still doing here in the Senate. I thank the Senator.

Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I would like to thank my distinguished colleague not only for his work on energy--he is already recognized as an energy leader in this body--but also most recently for student loans. He has taken a bipartisan lead on student loans that I believe has produced a great product, which I am pleased and proud to cosponsor, and on which I believe this body will come together next week and pass.

I think if we pass it, the House will take it up and pass it right away. It is so important for students, so important for our students and their families. It is just such a great example of what we can do working together. I

think the good Senator from West Virginia does this so well. I thank him. Whether it is energy or student loans or just a lot of other issues, I want to express my deep appreciation and my fondness for working with him on these important issues.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 5 minutes on another very important issue.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

THE FARM BILL

Mr. HOEVEN. I rise today to speak on an issue of great importance to our country, and one that we need to act on and we need to act on now. That is the farm bill. We in the Senate have passed a strong farm bill. It saves $24 billion to help reduce our debt and our deficit. It streamlines our farm programs to make them more efficient and more usable for our farmers and our ranchers. It ensures that our farmers and ranchers continue to have good risk management tools that they need to manage their operations, particularly enhanced crop insurance which is so important for our farmers and ranchers.

Now the House has also passed a farm bill and sent it over to us in the Senate. So we have it. I rise today to urge my colleagues to join with me and form a conference committee with the House now to get this farm bill done for our farmers and ranchers--not just for our farmers and ranchers but for the American people. This really is about serving the American people, and it is about making sure that we continue to have the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world.

That means every single American benefits from good farm policy. We need to move on this bill. We need to act. The current farm bill expires September 30. We are already operating under a 1-year extension. It is time. We need to get going. We need to get this done. We need a long-term farm bill in place for our farmers and for our ranchers.

As I said right now, all Americans benefit from the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. But the farm bill is more than just a food bill, it is a jobs bill as well. Right now in our country there is something on the order of 16 million jobs on a direct and indirect basis--more than 16 million jobs that depend on agriculture. So businesses large and small across this great Nation depend on agriculture.

In addition, agriculture has a favorable balance of trade for our country. Let me just give you a few of the statistics. This year it is estimated that we will export almost $140 billion worth of ag products. Think of all the dollars, the revenue that comes back to our country, the job creation, the economic growth, the employment, at a time when we need to create more jobs in this country, $140 billion that we export in food products all over the world supporting jobs and economic activity in this country.

A favorable balance of trade helps us in terms of our financial situation--a favorable balance of trade of almost $30 billion. In 2012, exports, more than $135 billion; in 2011, more than $137 billion in ag products from this country supporting jobs and economic activity in this country, and a favorable balance of trade of more than $40 billion.

Finally, agriculture is about more than just food. It is about fuel and fiber, and it is about national security. We do not have to depend on other countries for our food supply because our farmers and ranchers take care of it right here at home. So it is even a national security issue as well, making sure that we have the food supply that is dependable, nutritious, the highest quality, lowest cost in the world right here available to us at all times.

One other point I will make before I conclude; that is, our farmers and ranchers are stepping forward at a time when we have a deficit and a debt, and they are doing their part to help address this deficit and debt--$24 billion in savings, when the actual portion of the farm bill that actually deals with farmers is actually less than 20 percent of the whole bill.

Our farmers are stepping forward and helping the deficit with $24 billion in reduction. Just think for a minute. If we can do that across government, think of the impact it would have in terms of helping us to reduce this deficit and get our deficit and debt under control in this country.

It is time to move forward with the farm bill. The next step is to go to a conference committee with the House. We need to get that done. We need to get that done now and get a long-term farm bill in place for our farmers, for our ranchers, and for this great Nation.

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

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