DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2010--Continued -- (Senate - September 22, 2009)
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MOTION TO RECOMMIT WITH AMENDMENT NO. 2508
Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I find this very frustrating. As I understand it, the Chair who is handling the bill on the floor is not objecting personally but on behalf of Senator Nelson of Florida. I find it frustrating because this is a completely germane amendment to the bill. It is a limitation amendment which is completely germane to the bill. I don't think there is any reasonable argument that something so directly pertinent and germane should not be open for discussion and vote on the Senate floor.
I think, quite frankly, it is unreasonable for Senator Nelson to block an amendment in this way. Having been forced to do this, I now send to the desk a motion to recommit with instructions so that this amendment can be considered and heard in that manner.
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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I will be happy to explain the substance of this amendment. Again, I am forced to file this motion to recommit simply to have this germane, relevant amendment heard and voted on with regard to the bill.
What does the amendment do? The amendment is very straightforward. It simply says:
None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to delay the Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program from 2010-2015 issued by the Secretary of the Interior under section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
We all know we face enormous energy needs in this country. That became particularly acute and particularly obvious last summer when the price at the pump went through the roof and rose to $4 a gallon for gasoline. At that time, people rightly became enraged that we were not doing more to control our own destiny and our own energy future. People started demanding that Congress act, that Congress do something with regard to oil and gas and other energy resources we have right here at home.
That is when the petition began: Drill here, drill now. That is when every Member of this Congress was deluged with calls and e-mails and letters saying: Let's get ahold of our own destiny and produce that energy which we have right here at home.
In that time period last year, Congress heard that message loudly and clearly. So for the first time in years, the moratorium on offshore oil and gas production was lifted by Congress, and President Bush similarly lifted a more limited executive moratorium on offshore production. So those barriers and those hurdles were finally lifted because of the demands of the American people, when the American people said very loudly, very clearly: This is ridiculous. We have resources here at home. We have domestic energy. Let's use that domestic energy rather than being held hostage by foreign powers.
That was real progress. That was moving, certainly, in the right direction.
The problem is, the new administration and the new Secretary of the Interior have made it clear that--despite all of those actions, despite all of that clear communication by the American people, despite Congress taking that historic action of lifting the moratorium, despite the previous administration lifting the executive moratorium--they are not in any hurry and they are not going to take any action in the near future to move forward with the 2010 to 2015 offshore planning area and lease sales.
So what, unfortunately, Secretary Salazar has said pretty clearly is he is not going to take action in the foreseeable future to actually move forward with that going after domestic production and domestic resources. That is really a shame because, while the price at the pump has stabilized somewhat from last summer, and that is a good thing, the need--particularly the medium- and long-term need--is still there. Over the next 20 years, U.S. demand for energy is only going to grow. It is particularly going to grow as we get out of this recession and come back into a more normal economy. Overall, it is expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.4 percent. That is going to demand more energy. We need to conserve. We need to develop new technology. We need to develop new energy sources. But that need is still going to grow, so that short term we will have increased demand for the types of energy we use.
We have enormous potential right here at home. The question which this amendment poses is, are we going to tap that potential or are we going to use the resources we have so that we cannot be held hostage any longer by hostile foreign powers.
According to conservative estimates from MMS, there are about 288 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 52 billion barrels of oil in the OFC, off the lower 48 States. That is an enormous amount of energy as yet untapped. That is enough oil to maintain current production for 105 years. That is enough natural gas to maintain production for 71 years. That is enough oil to produce gasoline for 132 million cars and heating oil for 54 million homes for 15 years. It is enough natural gas to heat 72 million homes for 60 years or to supply current industrial and commercial needs for 28 years or to supply current electricity generating needs for 53 years. Further, the MMS reports that the waters off Alaska's coast hold about 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is in addition to all of the potential, all of the resources I was just talking about.
Make no mistake about it, we need to move to a new energy future. We need to develop new technology. We need to develop new sources of energy. But we need a bridge to get to that future, and certainly current fuels--oil and natural gas, particularly natural gas, which is a relatively clean-burning fuel--are an absolutely vital bridge to get to that future.
The American people are scratching their heads. We have enormous needs, particularly the need to build an energy bridge to a new, exciting energy future. The good news is we have enormous domestic resources that can help get us there, particularly natural gas. So why are we not matching those two things that should match up so well? The American people demanded that last summer. Because of their loud and clear voice, they got dramatic action out of Congress, lifting the moratoria. The problem is, the new administration and the new Secretary of the Interior are simply saying: We are not in any hurry to get there. We are not going to lift a finger to actually move forward with the concrete work that needs to be done.
That is really inappropriate. That is ignoring the clear clarion call of the American people. So, again, that brings us to my amendment, amendment No. 2454, which my motion to recommit would add to the bill. It simply says:
None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to delay the draft proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2015 issued by the Secretary of the Interior under section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
The American people have spoken: Drill here, drill now; build an important bridge to the future. No, it is not the future, but it is a necessary bridge to get us there. Let's adopt that common sense of the American people. Let's respond to that clear call of the American people dating back to last summer. Let's pass this clear limitation amendment, perfectly germane to this bill, so we can move forward with developing our domestic energy resources right here at home to build a more stable energy future.
I yield my time.
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