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Energy Plan for America

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Location: Washington, DC


ENERGY PLAN FOR AMERICA -- (House of Representatives - April 20, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is recognized for half the time until midnight as the designee of the majority leader.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, what a day we have had here in the House. We have talked about energy policy. And having an energy bill come to the floor of this House is something that we have waited for for quite a period of time.

I want to congratulate the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) and our colleagues on the Committee on Energy and Commerce. As we have had this occur today, it has been quite an effort. Our Energy Committee, last week we talked about it earlier in the week and we talked about it the past week. We had about a third of the Democrats in the House join us in voting that bill out of committee last week. They did it because it is a good bill. And they did it because it is time for us to have an energy bill, and it is the right step in the right way at this point in time.

I know that we have some across the aisle, many who are going to follow the liberal leadership there and walk in lockstep with the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi), but I think we are going to see more of the House Democrats join us to make this energy bill a reality for the American people.

I would like to remind my colleagues that over the last few weeks we have seen quite a bit of bipartisan support on some of our legislation. We had 122 Democrats vote with us on the continuity of government bill, 50 Democrats voted with us on the class action bill, 73 Democrats voted with the Republicans on bankruptcy reform, and 42 supported our repeal of the death tax and the REAL I.D. Act.

So we look forward tomorrow to having our Democrat colleagues from across the aisle join us as we move forward on our Nation's energy policy.

We have several Members who have joined us tonight to talk about energy and to talk about energy policy. One of those is the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall), and I would like to yield some time to the gentleman to talk with us about the energy bill. I also want to thank the gentleman for the wonderful leadership that he has shown on this bill.

At this point, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall).

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman so much for his thoughts, and I thank him for his leadership on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the gentleman from Texas is exactly right. This is an issue about the future. It is an issue that affects our children, and as he said, it is an issue about the economy, about security and how we need to look at our sources of oil, our security, and many times we feel we are too reliant on foreign oil, which we are.

Right now, 62 percent of the Nation's oil supply is coming from foreign sources. If we do not take action and pass an energy bill, it is going to be 75 percent by 2010. So we know that action is necessary and it is needed now.

The gentleman from Texas also mentioned new technologies, new ways of doing things, and that is something that certainly we have to have our eye towards. We look at the needs for today and then as we bridge to the future.

At this point, Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Terry) who will talk with us a little bit about liquefied natural gas and about turning that corner, beginning to look at things a little bit differently.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his leadership on this issue and for his diligent work on behalf of his constituents and on behalf of all Americans as we are working on this bill and bringing it forward to the House, getting it ready to move forward and looking forward to the time that the President signs this into law, so that we do have an energy policy.

A couple of points I would like to highlight with my colleagues that the gentleman from Nebraska brought forward to us, this bill is, as he said, forward thinking and it is now thinking, and it is important as we look at these two provisions that we realize it is this way because we have to think about small business. We have to think about farmers. We have to think about the impact of this on the economy.

Madam Speaker, as the gentleman from Nebraska has said, this is about jobs. We think about our economy. This wonderful free enterprise system that we have in this great Nation of ours has created nearly 3 million jobs in the past 2 years, and we need to continue that. This economic engine needs to continue working.

We do not hear enough about the jobs creation that has happened. We do not hear enough about the tax relief that has happened over the past couple of years, but we know that jobs creation is such an important part and an energy policy will serve as a boost for that jobs creation.

I thank the gentleman from Nebraska, and at this point I yield to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Beauprez) who has been a leader on the energy issue, has done a wonderful job for his constituents in the State of Colorado and is going to talk with us for a few minutes about ANWR and the implications of ANWR.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado for the explanation of this. I think it is so important for us to keep this in perspective. We are talking about 2,000 acres when we talk about ANWR, and it is in many hundreds of thousands of acres. It is like putting a quarter on the dining room table, that is the relationship of that space. So I thank the gentleman from Colorado for his work on the issue.

The gentleman from Idaho, who is a member and a leader on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, has certainly worked on some of the issues dealing with refineries and permitting. We have not had a new refinery built in the country in 30 years, Madam Speaker. And as I mentioned earlier, the bill addresses our needs for today and looks toward the future.

Obviously, there are some in this body who would like for us to flip a switch and tomorrow start driving hydrogen fuel cell cars and to start doing things we would all love to see happen, to look at more alternative sources. But we have to think about where our economy is today and meeting those needs for oil and gas today while at the same time we are planning for the future.

The gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Otter) is going to talk with us for a few moments about refineries and permitting and some of the points that are covered that address the needs of today and of our economy today. So I thank the gentleman for joining us and I yield to him.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Otter) for his leadership to our committee.

To mention a couple of things that the gentleman highlighted, and one is the amount of time that has gone into this bill. During the 107th Congress that the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Otter) spoke about, that was 2001-2002, the Republican-led Committee on Energy and Commerce held 28 hearings related to a comprehensive energy bill. In 2002, the committee spent 21 hours marking up an energy bill and considering 79 amendments. In 2003, there were 22 hours and 80 amendments. In 3 years the Republicans in the House have held 80 public hearings with 12 committee markups and 279 amendments. That is the amount of work and energy that has gone into what the gentleman so appropriately describes as a total-concept bill.

Another point was about the permitting. One of the things that we have all learned so well in our public service is if you want less of something, pile on the taxes, pile on the regulation because you are going to get less of it. If you want more of something, you have lighter regulation, lower taxes; and you are going to see that flourish.

Those are certainly points that we take to heart as we look at the energy bill. I thank the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. Otter) for his good work on this effort.

A gentleman who has been a leader on the issue of small business and taxation and regulation and how that affects our economy is the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King). I certainly welcome him to our debate tonight. I appreciate the leadership that the gentleman shows in the Committee on the Budget and in the Republican Study Committee as we work to lower taxes and spending and address appropriate regulation.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from Iowa for spending some time with us. He is exactly right, Madam Speaker. This is a homeland security and an economic security issue. We realize that. Competitiveness is important. We know, just as the gentleman said, we are meeting today's needs. We cannot not address the needs of today. That does require us to address oil and gas. At the same time we have to build that bridge to the future. This bill does that and does put the focus on biodiesel, biomass, ethanol, wind, hydropower, hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, and all of those alternative and renewable energy sources so that we will have a goal of reducing that dependence on foreign oil.

Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) who is going to talk with us about the economic issues that affect his district in Texas.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) for participating with us tonight.

He is exactly right. The estimate is that 500,000 new jobs will be created over the next year by the changes made in the energy policy for this Nation.

As I close this time that I have had tonight, I do want to certainly draw some attention to provisions of the bill, and tomorrow we hope that everyone is going to be able to talk with us and work with us as we go through the bill. And we are going to address so many things not only with our small business, but we are going to hear about electricity transmission and capability and reliability of our Nation's electricity and the electrical sources. Everyone was concerned, and we all are, when we hear of brownouts and blackouts and the series of blackouts over the past decade. So electricity is something that we will be addressing.

I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. Foxx) for her comments on the bill.

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her comments.

As we continue with our debate, as we were saying earlier, we will be looking at electricity, and we are going to have some provisions in this bill that the Federal Government is going to lead on energy conservation issues.

One of our colleagues talked earlier about clean coal technology and renewable sources. Those will be addressed in the bill also. And we will look forward tomorrow as we come to the floor to being able to continue our discussion and to draw attention to these issues.

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