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American Energy Independence

Location: Washington, DC

AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE -- (House of Representatives - June 24, 2008)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio) for 5 minutes.

Mr. DeFAZIO. I agree with the gentleman. We should be doing more drilling in the United States. The oil companies should begin to develop the 6,391 offshore leases they already have that are environmentally approved, that are sitting idle, but the industry is not moving to develop those leases despite the vast resources available. In fact, the estimates of the Minerals Management Service are that they could access 80 percent of the available oil off the shores of the United States of America from their existing leases. They just don't want to do it. Now, why might that be?

Well, maybe it has something to do with their making piles of money the way it is. So why would they want to provide relief to the American consumer by cutting into their obscene profits?

Second, there's some pressure on that side to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There may be a fair amount of oil under there. We don't really know. There was one exploratory well drilled 30-some-odd years ago. Proprietary. No one knows. But we do know that right next-door to the west of the pipeline is a vast area that used to be called the Naval Petroleum Reserve. Why was it called that? Because we know there is a huge amount of oil under there. We've known that for 70 years. In fact, Bill Clinton, as President, decided to lease that to the industry to bring on line over 10 billion barrels of oil, of U.S. oil, for the American people.

Now, first, of course, we have to do away with the little loophole the Republicans created when they allowed the ban on the export of Alaska oil to lapse. I have a bill, and I've had a bill for a number of years to reinstate a bill on the ban of the export of Alaska oil.

But how about that known 10-billion-barrel reserve? The oil industry has drilled 25 exploratory wells and then has capped them, and they have no plans to provide transit from there to the existing pipeline, which is just to the east of that reserve.

So how about the industry takes some of the 20-30 billion barrels that are available off of their existing leases that could double our domestic supply for the next 20 years and then develop that? Then we can talk about more leases or, hopefully, by then, we will have transited into a new energy future that isn't going to require the same massive amounts of oil that the current economy requires.

There is something else the Republicans have left out. Had we started down a new energy path after 9/11, the lesson there would have been we don't want to be dependent upon the Middle East and Saudi Arabia. Most of those were Saudis who attacked us.

Who's giving hundreds of billions of dollars a year to the Saudis? Well, unfortunately, American consumers are, and we're dependent upon them, and the President goes over and begs for oil. Even though they're violating international law, he won't file complaints against them. We treat them with kid gloves. We need to be free of those people, so we need to be looking toward a different energy future, but in the short term, we don't need to be price-gouged, which brings up a third point which the Republicans don't want to address.

It's estimated that 50 cents of every gallon today is pure speculation for Wall Street. We could do away with that by closing the Enron loophole. Remember Ken-Boy Lay, the President's principal financier throughout his political career? He's dead now. Ken-Boy ran Enron. He wrote our energy policy behind closed doors with Dick Cheney. Enron is bankrupt, but the Enron loophole lives on, and other major firms on Wall Street--Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others--are now fully utilizing that loophole.

According to today's Washington Times, 99 percent of the premium crude in America is controlled not by ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and others but by Wall Street and futures speculation. They're making a pile of money at the cost to American consumers. So let's close that loophole. But, no, the Republicans never want to take on Big Oil and make them do what they should do, which is to develop existing leases which they're sitting on, and they don't want to take on Wall Street and close the loophole that was created for Enron's Ken-Boy Lay, the President's best buddy.

Those are things we could do to provide short-term relief of, virtually immediately, 50 cents a gallon. Then in the medium and short term, by developing the 6,391 offshore oil leases and the former Naval Petroleum Reserve, with known reserves of over 10 billion barrels, we could make them develop that. Use it or lose it.

I think we're going to have a discussion about that later this week. Let's see where the Republicans come down on that. These are already let leases, and they can be developed much more quickly than new leases could be. Let's see what they're really all about.

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