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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY -- (Senate - July 15, 2008)

Mr. ISAKSON. I wish to commend the Republican leader on his remarks. I wish to follow up on those remarks on what is the crisis of the day in the United States of America, which is that the Congress of the United States has chosen, all of us--I am not pointing fingers at anyone--to argue about partisan politics over energy while the American people are paying numbers they have never had before in their lives. The future of oil is only looking higher and higher and higher.

Quite frankly, in the United States of America, the Congress of the United States is sitting on a ham sandwich starving to death.

This is a problem we have solutions for, if we will put our partisan differences aside and develop a comprehensive mandatory plan to address the supply and demand on petroleum. Yesterday the President removed the executive order prohibiting offshore drilling. That is absolutely something we ought to do. We need to be exploring our domestic resources to reduce our dependence on foreign imports. It is good for America not only because it is our energy, it is good because it is in the geopolitical interests of the United States. Every barrel of oil we are dependent on from the Middle East is a geopolitical problem, not just an arithmetic problem or a cost-of-oil problem. We should be exploring every resource we have. Some Members of the Senate have come together to realize there are things we can do and things we can't. We should be focusing on the things we can do. For the purposes of my remarks, I want to outline all of those things that are doable today.

No. 1 is offshore exploration with the States and their general assemblies and Governors having the authority to authorize it. We know we have significant offshore resources in terms of both natural gas and petroleum.

Second, we ought to reenergize the nuclear energy business. It is absolutely ridiculous that the most industrialized country in the world, the country that brought nuclear power and nuclear electric generation to reality, now sits on the sidelines while the rest of the world generates safe, carbon-free, inexpensive energy on a daily basis. In the Nation of France, 87 percent of their energy is generated for electricity by nuclear energy. It emits zero carbon. The French use the MOX system to recycle their spent fuel rods and use them a second time, reducing nuclear waste by 90 percent and getting the maximum use out of the uranium to generate energy.

Synthetic fuels. It is absolutely important that we work as hard as we can to have the tax credit, tax incentive, and depreciation necessary to incentivize companies to rapidly develop synthetic fuels that do not depend on petroleum. Our military has proven this can be done. It is a matter of Congress directing tax policy and research and development to see to it that we do it.

Wind and solar. There are those who say that won't solve our problem. Well, they won't, but they will help. In those States, 40 of them where wind energy actually will produce a significant amount of energy for the grid, we ought to be incentivizing it through tax credits, rapid depreciation, and other procedures that the Congress has the power to do today. Renewable sources of energy, ethanol, both cellulose and corn based, are essential. It has its place. It won't solve the problem, but it will help.

It is very important for us to understand that if this Congress decided to adopt a comprehensive policy to increase the supply of resources for energy, the cost of petroleum would begin coming down immediately, because those who speculate on the future would understand the United States has finally had enough. We are going to develop our resources. We are going to incentivize the private sector, and we will get the job done. This country has accomplished amazing things in difficult times. These are difficult times, but we know what the solutions are, and we know where they lie. They lie domestically with our own production of petroleum. They lie in research and development and ingenuity, and they lie in a Tax Code that needs to incentivize the development of energy.

I wish to share a story that opened my eyes to the importance of exploring our own resources. I am ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa. Earlier this year I traveled to Djibouti and to Equatorial Guinea. I saw a good example that the people of the United States ought to know about. Equatorial Guinea 10 years ago was the poorest nation in Africa and the poorest nation in the world. Today, it is the seventh fastest growing economy in the world. They came to America and asked American oil companies to come and explore in the Gulf of Guinea to see if they had any gas or any oil. Marathon Oil went over there, along with other smaller companies from Texas, and found gas in the Gulf of Guinea. Ten years later, when you go to Equatorial Guinea and the island of Malbo, and you go to the Marathon plant that liquefies natural gas for shipment around the world to places such as the United States, Russia, wherever it might be needed, you see tanker after tanker after tanker anchored in the Gulf of Guinea, loading up $25 million, the value of a tanker full of liquefied natural gas, to go around the world.

Equatorial Guinea has gone from a country that could not feed itself or take care of its people to a country building hospitals, universities, schools, highways, building the prosperity of their people, all because they had the willingness to explore. From an environmental standpoint, there has been no environmental impact. We know and have learned that we can drill offshore safely and securely and proved we can withstand even the most dangerous of hurricanes as happened in Katrina. There is no excuse for the United States not to be exploring offshore and be exploring today, no reason whatsoever we should not be reenergizing nuclear energy, no reason we should not be working on renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar, no reason we shouldn't expedite the development of synthetic fuels, coal liquefaction, and clean coal technology. America has every resource we need to be energy free, from coal to petroleum. All we to have do is have the political will and common sense to make it happen.

I call on my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to put their elephants and donkeys in the barn and look at the needs of the American people, understand if we leave this year without a comprehensive declaration for energy policy and energy independence, we have done a disservice to the people of the United States, and we will not have fulfilled our constitutional responsibility. It is time to get out of the chair, get off the ham sandwich, and understand that we have everything we need here to begin an end to high gas prices, high oil prices, and dependence on the Middle East for foreign oil.

I yield the floor.


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