ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - April 21, 2005)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment to make this junk food energy bill just a little bit healthier.
Members, help me with this quote: "I tell you, with $50 oil, we do not need incentives to oil and gas companies. There are plenty of incentives." No, this was not some liberal, left-wing environmental activist. You are right, it was the President of the United States, who comes from the oil industry, that recognizes that the oil companies are awash with profits.
During President Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign, he railed against the so-called royalty holiday saying that it was, and I quote, "Giving major oil companies a huge tax break."
Agree with the President of the United States, agree with us, accept this amendment.
Section 2005 waives Federal royalty collections from offshore oil and gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf. Added to the rest of Title 20, this will put $483 million of taxpayer money into the already deep pockets of big oil during a time in which they are reaping record profits. In fact, an April 8, 2005 Wall Street Journal article relates the news that Exxon Mobile recently reported a fourth-quarter profit that amounted to the fattest quarterly take for a publicly traded U.S. company ever: $8.4 billion.
Do big oil companies like Exxon really need taxpayer-provided "incentives" to explore and drill? President Bush doesn't think so.
In addition, the oil royalties the Federal Government does not collect from big oil will starve the Land and Water Conservation Fund of critical financial resources. The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides special protection for some of our most precious wildlands and has been a valuable tool for nearly 40 years. A portion of revenues from oil royalties is dedicated to this special fund for acquisition and conservation of natural places and habitat. Without these oil royalty revenues, State environmental protection efforts will suffer.
In a time of serious budget deficits, immense war costs and a sluggish economy, we cannot afford to grant such outlandish subsidies to some of our Nation's largest corporations. I urge my colleagues support the Grijalva amendment.
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the Energy Policy Act. The bill before us today, full of the same objectionable policies, such as providing liability protections for MTBE makers and taxpayer-funded largesse for the big fossil fuels industries, reminds me of the proverb provided by Saint Bonaventure who said, "the higher the monkey climbs, the more you see of it's behind." Mr. Speaker, this ugly bill has repeatedly scaled the tree and the view hasn't improved any.
I believe the American people expect more from their elected representatives than to simply rehash an energy bill whose flaws have been exposed and it's economic and environmental price tags too high to pay. Yet, once again, the majority refused to work in a bipartisan fashion to craft a balanced and sensible energy bill that meets America's needs.
Every day, millions of American families struggle to keep up with soaring energy costs. Motorists see soaring prices at the pump. Farmers working to provide a secure future for their children watch as their operating margins are squeezed even further. And all too many low-income and elderly Americans are being forced to decide between adequately heating and cooling their homes or purchasing the food and medicines they need.
The American people understand that we face both a short and a long-term energy crisis and that we must develop a comprehensive and balanced plan for our Nation-a plan that finds 21st century solutions to deal with our 21st century energy needs. A bill that directs needed resources to renewable energy sources and efficiency programs. It is unfortunate that the best the majority believes we can do is pass a bill better suited to the start of the industrialization era.
The bill, inexplicably, provides little to promote renewable energy sources or reduce energy use. Instead, it funnels ever more tax benefits to energy companies already making huge profits from high energy prices. In fact, an April 19, 2005 wall street journal article relates the news that Exxon Mobile recently reported a fourth-quarter profit that amounted to the fattest quarterly take for publicly traded U.S. company ever: $8.4 billion. Of the $8 billion in tax incentives, less than $500 million would go to promote renewable energy sources or foster efficiency and conservation programs. After sticking it to the consumers at the pump, do big oil companies like Exxon really need taxpayer-provided "incentives"? President Bush doesn't think so. In a recent interview, President Bush said, "I will tell you; with $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies. There are plenty of incentives." I agree.
The few bright-spots of the bill: like tripling the amount of gasoline sold that contains enthanol by 2012; promoting safe and clean nuclear energy; developing the liquified natural gas infrastructure needed in our country; ensuring electric reliability and easing transmission-all have been overshadowed by the bloated excess and taxpayer-funded subsidies for some of our nation's largest oil and gas companies.
Mr. Chairman, there are unfortunately many more very bad provisions for American taxpayers in H.R. 6, and title 20 in particular-much of which is premised on a 'drill at taxpayers' expense approach to the management of energy resources on public lands.
Perhaps the best example is the issue of drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge. As my colleagues know, the arctic national wildlife refuge was set aside over 40 years ago by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the clear and express purpose of protecting its remarkable wilderness and wildlife values. I, like a majority of Americans, oppose developing one of our nation's last remaining pristine areas for a short term energy fix.
And there are other provisions that, standing alone, make this a bad bill: such as the "royalties in kind" provision; granting broad authority to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior for permitting alternative energy-related uses on the Outer Continental Shelf; and reimbursing oil and gas companies for doing the environmental impact studies that are required under law. I know there are a number of my colleagues who are anxious to speak on some of these provisions, so I welcome their comments and lend my support to their wise concerns.
One of the most egregious provisions of this bill is what is being called "royalty relief" for some of our Nation's largest oil companies. This provision waives federal royalty collections on huge amounts of publicly owned lands. Simply put, Title 20 will put billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the already deep pockets of big oil. The amendment offered by my friend from Arizona, Mr. GRIJALVA, would strike section 2005 and restore the collection of royalty payments to the Treasury for offshore oil and gas production on the Outer Continental Shelf-a measure I helped lead last year and one that I strongly urge my colleagues' support.
And buried deep in this bill, under the title named "miscellaneous" there is another provision that could have major consequences for communities struggling to clean up their dirty air. This provision allows cities and towns whose air pollution comes from hundreds of miles away to delay meeting national air quality standards until their offending neighbors clean up their own air. In considering the most significant change in the Clean Air Act in 15 years, I must note the irony that we are just days away from celebrating the 35th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day, begun by Wisconsin's own Senator Gaylord Nelson, provided the impetus to President Nixon signing the Clean Air Act.
In addition, the majority party has stuck in the bill a provision that would limit the ability of coastal states to challenge offshore oil and natural gas production. Apparently, the majority party in Congress no longer has much regard for the 10th amendment.
So that is the back-side of our monkey. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this energy bill that does little to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels-or the fossil fuels' industry dependence on taxpayer dollars.
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