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Public Statements

Rising Gas Prices

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately in what has become a time-honored tradition, the President and my Democratic colleagues that are here in Congress find it more convenient and politically expedient to make targets of energy companies. These are companies who invest their own capital and resources to increase our country's energy supply and the security of our Nation. They want nothing more than to operate in a free market environment without excessive government regulations.

However, in a move to deflect the spotlight from this administration's own failings and the Democrat Party's own failings and their incompetent policies, this administration and many in Congress find it easier to attack the success of the energy companies than to actually confront the challenges that we face, often espousing policies to increase government interference in the marketplace that do more harm than good.

Recently, companies like Koch Industries, which employs more than 10,000 people in my home State of Georgia, contributing more than $700 million to our State's economy, along with tens of millions in community and environmental philanthropic efforts, have come under attack by several Democrats in this body and this administration just because Koch's work provides for an easy red meat target to throw to their radical environmental friends. It's also a sad state of affairs when other energy companies actually post a positive profit report, even though most of these profits go back into more energy exploration as well as clean energy development. I'm also sure that you won't hear many attacks on how those profits help boost the retirement accounts of millions of Americans and put more into our struggling economy than any government stimulus program has or could.

According to the new Washington Post/ABC News survey out today, more than seven in 10 Americans are suffering financial hardship from the skyrocketing gas prices. In fact, we've got a chart here tonight, the first one in a series. This is the gas price, the average retail price in America when Barack Obama took office. The average price at that time was $1.84 per gallon just as recently as January of 2009, a little over 2 years ago. Look what's happened. As of April 25 of this year, the average price per gallon was $3.88. The average price 2 years ago was $1.84; now it is $3.88, $2 higher, over twice. It's over double in just a 2-year period of time.

Gas prices don't just affect the price at the pump. I was talking to a Member just a few minutes ago. She was telling me that she just fueled her pickup truck, and it cost her over $100 to fill the gas tank of her pickup truck. She and her husband own a ranch. They are active ranchers out west. Never before has she had to pay $100 to fill the tank of her vehicle, and I filled the tank of mine, and it was almost $90 in my GMC Yukon that I've used to make house calls as a medical doctor. This is unsustainable.

Our gas prices impact our grocery bills, job opportunities, travel plans, and thousands of other decisions that businesses and families make. In fact, according to an analyst from Cameron Hanover, every penny increase in the price of gas costs consumers, American citizens, consumers, more than $4 million per day. A one-penny increase costs consumers over $4 million per day. And, folks, who are hurt the most by this? The people who are hurt the most are poor people and people who are on limited incomes, our senior citizens.

As the cost of fuel and gas and oil go up because of the misplaced policies of this administration, this winter, fuel prices are going to be out of the roof. In fact, the President said while we were talking about his cap-and-trade bill not long ago, he said that energy prices, to use the President's words, ``would necessarily skyrocket'' for his policies. ``Necessarily skyrocket.'' Under President Obama, the cost of energy has skyrocketed. That's what he has said in a national speech.

The national average price of gasoline, as I just mentioned, was $1.84 when President Obama took office. Today it is $3.96. Rising gasoline prices are hurting families and small businesses. They are costing jobs. In fact, I just talked to a manager of a restaurant in my hometown of Athens, Georgia, just this last weekend. He was telling me that when he orders food for his restaurant, his suppliers are adding a fuel surcharge, a fuel surcharge onto the cost of groceries, food for his restaurant. That's happening in all the grocery stores, and that's happening all across this country. It's threatening our economy and our economic recovery.

While the new House majority is taking steps to address gas prices and help create jobs with the American Energy Initiative, the Obama administration's anti-energy policies are driving up prices, and they are threatening our economy by blocking American energy production. We have had a 16 percent decrease in American energy production under this administration. It is 16 percent lower than it was projected to be. Future projections show continued decreases in domestic production and more and more reliance upon foreign imports for our energy sources, particularly for gas and oil. We're getting those energy resources from countries that hate us, that hate our American free enterprise system, that hate the liberty we have here in this country.

More than a 200,000-barrel-per-day decrease in Gulf Coast energy production, this is according to the Energy Information Administration's March 2011 short-term energy outlook. Production from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to fall by 240,000 barrels per day in 2011 and a further 200,000 barrels per day in 2012. A reduction. And 27 billion barrels of oil are under lock and key in Alaska. According to a recent FOX News report, the EPA's refusal to grant permits for energy production in Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf has limited access to an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. With Alaskan oil production already decreasing by 7 percent annually, continued delays could force the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to shut down.

What's that going to do to our cost of gasoline, heating oil, natural gas and all of our other energy sources? What's that going to do to the cost of food? It's all going to skyrocket.

More than 40 American energy projects have been stalled by this administration. As the House Natural Resources Committee notes, 10 months after the Obama administration's official moratorium on American energy ended, over 40 projects remain stalled, and people are left without work. This administration's energy policy is killing jobs in the Gulf Coast, as well as all over this country. We're sending American jobs overseas. Twelve rigs have already left the Gulf.

Before we change, let me go to this quote here from Michael Bromwich, the Chief Regulator of U.S. offshore drilling. Even if we permitted the hell out of everything tomorrow, every pending permit, some permits that haven't even been filed yet, it would not have a material effect on gas prices, Bromwich said. That's the simple, clear reality.

The simple clear truth, the simple truth is Michael Bromwich is absolutely wrong. And, in fact, as soon as the first drill bit starts hitting dirt or ocean floor, you will see oil prices plummet in this country, in my opinion. Why? Because OPEC will get a message that we're going to produce our own energy resources here in America.

Mr. Speaker, I submit any country that is not energy independent, if it cannot produce its own energy resources, if it cannot produce its own food and its own clothing, is not a secure Nation. And the American people need to know that we are not a secure Nation today, and it's because of policies of this administration that are making us less secure. We need to go in the opposite direction of the direction we're going today, that this administration's taking us.

According to James W. Noe, Executive Director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition, at least 12 offshore rigs have already departed the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a significant and precipitous reduction in domestic employment and energy production.

In January, the moratorium forced seven oil rigs to abandon the Gulf and head overseas, costing American jobs and forcing the U.S. to import more foreign oil. These rigs have left. You see where they've gone. Nigeria, Egypt, the Congo, Brazil, French Guyana. They won't be coming back. Thousands of American jobs left with them. In fact, as many as 12,000 American jobs have been lost, and more than 36,000 jobs are at risk.

I hear my Democrat colleagues talking about it's jobs, jobs, jobs. In fact, we heard that just today in the Science Committee. One of my Democratic colleagues talked about jobs are the number one issue. Well, she's absolutely right. But it's her party's policies that are running jobs overseas. It's this administration's policies that are making these rigs leave the Gulf of Mexico and go to Nigeria and Egypt and Congo and Brazil, French Guyana.

According to the study at Louisiana State University, monetary economist, Dr. Joseph Mason, the Obama administration's de facto ban, and it is a ban, he says he's lifted the moratorium but they're not putting out the permits. It's a de facto ban on American energy production, could cost as many as 24,532 jobs in the Gulf Coast and 36,137 jobs nationwide.

By the administration's own admission, the first 6 months of the official moratorium alone has resulted in as many as 12,000 American jobs have been lost. They're gone. They've left the Gulf Coast. They've gone to other areas. They've gone to produce energy, if you look at this chart, in the Middle East, in Africa, South America and Brazil.

In fact, the President just sent billions of dollars to Brazil for them to produce their energy and create Brazilian jobs at the cost of American energy and American jobs. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense.

Recently, in a trip to Brazil in March, President Obama pledged to help with technology and support to develop the Brazilian oil reserves so that America could become one of Brazil's, quoting Barack Obama himself, Brazil's best customers. He wants us to become Brazil's best customer.

How about those American jobs that he is killing and his administration is killing?

His Energy Secretary, Dr. Chu, a couple of years ago said, we have to find some way to make gasoline prices in America the same as they are in Europe. We'll talk about that in a bit, and remind the American people that the President himself said that energy prices under his policies that he's promoting would necessarily skyrocket. He wants Americans' energy prices to skyrocket, putting people out of jobs, costing all these thousands of jobs, costing our economy millions and millions and trillions of dollars in all probability eventually. Certainly billions.

He just gave a loan to Brazil, $2 billion to produce jobs and produce oil in Brazil instead of producing oil in the Gulf Coast and off Alaska. And his EPA just denied any production off Alaska. It makes no sense.

According to stories from the Gulf Coast residents shared at a recent Natural Resources Committee hearing, the President's policies already are helping make good on his pledge, with one offshore boat company employee reporting that his employer is sending 100 vessels overseas to Brazil to keep them working, Brazilians working. With those transfers go many American jobs.

This administration's policies are destroying jobs. The Democrat Party policies under the former Speaker, Ms. Pelosi, the Majority Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, are destroying jobs, destroying our economy. And they want more of the same. They want more stimulus, more government, less American jobs in the private sector, less American energy production.

Mr. Speaker, the American people need to know very clearly, they need to know the simple truth. They deserve the truth; that the policies created by this administration, the policies created under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are building a bigger government but destroying our energy. They're building a bigger government, even higher prices for housing in Washington, D.C. to destroy jobs in the private sector all across the country. And their energy policies are going to harm the most vulnerable Americans, poor people, people on limited incomes, our senior citizens.

Recently, President Obama and Washington Democrats trotted out two blame-shifting strategies that Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to use in the past to deflect blame for their failed anti-energy policies.

Just last month, Democrats recycled their so-called ``use it or lose it'' argument that has already been debunked as nothing more than a hoax. It is political fodder that they are utilizing. And I have heard it in our Natural Resources Committee. I have heard it on the floor of the House. American people are sick and tired of this kind of political dialogue.

Americans are demanding all over this country, not only in the 10th District in Georgia, my district, not only in the State of Georgia, but Americans all over the country deserve for this Nation to be energy independent. They are crying out for energy independence.

The Carter administration established the Energy Department to make us energy independent as a Nation. The Department of Energy has failed miserably, failed miserably in that task, and has failed miserably in that task under both Democrat as well as Republican administrations.

Now, President Obama is trying to shift blame to oil speculators just as he did back in 2008. And this is in spite of the fact that, as Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin notes: It is the administration's own policies that are contributing to yet another drain on the wallets of average Americans.

The Washington Post has not been a particularly conservative newspaper that has promoted conservative policies. That is what Jennifer Rubin said: The administration's own policies are contributing to yet another drain on the wallets of average Americans. And she is absolutely correct in that assessment, and I commend her for saying so.

Earlier this month, the House passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act, H.R. 910, to stop the Obama administration from imposing a backdoor national energy tax that will further drive up gas prices. President Obama says he is going to veto that legislation, proving that he won't let skyrocketing gas prices get in the way of his administration's job-crushing anti-energy agenda regardless of the cost to American families and small businesses.

I have got a small business in the timber industry in Lincoln County, Georgia, and the owner of that business recently told me he parked all of his trucks because he cannot afford to put fuel in those trucks, and that has cost several jobs in Lincoln County. Lincoln County has an unemployment rate that is way, way higher than the national average. In fact, the State of Georgia's unemployment rate I think just recently was reported to be over 10 percent.

This administration's anti-energy policies are crushing jobs, crushing small businesses, crushing family budgets, and it is anti-American. House Republicans are making strong efforts to create jobs and lower fuel prices in this country.

Recently, CNN did a poll. They found that seven in ten Americans support increased offshore drilling for oil and gas--seven in ten. I wonder about the other three in those ten. Forty-five percent strongly favor.

Here is the question. They asked how Americans feel about increased drilling for oil and natural gas offshore U.S. borders, and here is how they responded: 45 percent said that they strongly favor us doing increased drilling for our own oil and gas in the gulf coast offshore, 24 percent mildly favor, 16 percent strongly oppose, and 15 percent mildly oppose.

Now, that 15 percent and 16 percent, I wonder if they have looked at their checkbook. I wonder if they have looked at the cost of bread and milk, cabbage and potatoes in their grocery store. Because the prices of those goods that we all depend upon when we go to the grocery store are markedly affected by the cost of gas and oil in this country.

Increasing American energy production will help create new jobs, and it addresses the rising gas prices. And Americans know it. The House is prepared to vote on legislation to boost offshore energy production.

As I said, seven in ten Americans support offshore drilling for our oil and natural gas. It belongs to us, it belongs to the American people, and we are being prohibited from tapping into that by this administration and the Democratic Party policy.

Implementing a comprehensive plan to build a more stable supply of petroleum from our own North American resources, along with reforms that end litigation, the endless litigation, and reveal policies that artificially inflate cost will provide immediate relief to the price of gasoline. The market knows that more energy means lower prices.

When President Bush removed the executive moratorium on offshore drilling in 2008, as a good example, crude oil futures by the speculators fell more than $9 almost immediately. It is not the speculators that are causing the rising cost of oil. It is not the speculators who are causing the rising cost to Americans when they go to fill their cars and pickup trucks. It is failed policies by the Obama administration, failed policies by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and their cronies here in the House and in the Senate.

We can create good jobs. We can insulate the economy from energy price shocks by actively producing our own energy resources here in this country. And we can do that, we must do that, while we are good stewards of our environment, repealing Federal mandates and the prohibitions that artificially drive up the cost of gasoline and stopping the EPA's backdoor energy tax. They are trying to implement what I call tax-and-trade by EPA edict in a dictatorial manner when they could not pass that bill through Congress in the last Congress. And by halting the President's drilling permatorium, as some of us call it, it has been described, and unlocking our own energy resources that God has given us here in America both on- and offshore, all these will help alleviate the pain at the pump, the pain at the grocery store, the pain for every good and service, even the pain in the doctor's office and the pain of all the higher energy costs and the pain of all the increased costs of every good and service in this country.

Through the American Energy Initiative, House Republicans are actively working to increase American energy production in order to do a number of things: to lower the cost of gasoline, to create American jobs, to generate revenue to help reduce the debt and this deficit that's unsustainable, and to strengthen our national security by decreasing our dependence on foreign energy, particularly on foreign oil.

As I mentioned just a few minutes ago, I believe very firmly that, if a country is not energy independent, it is not a secure nation. We are not secure today. We must make America energy independent, and we do that by developing our own energy resources--all of our energy resources, not only oil and gas but coal. We need to develop clean coal technology. We need to look at alternative energy resources, such as wind and solar and waves, and all of those things. We need to have research and development on nuclear energy and on all of the things that are critical for us to be energy independent as a Nation.

Republican bills would create 250,000 jobs short term and 1.2 million jobs long term, according to Louisiana State University's Joseph Mason. We've got to create jobs, but the energy policies that this administration and our Democratic colleagues are promoting are killing jobs, not creating them. Republican policies want to create jobs.

Under the Republican bills that we have introduced, one of which is H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, we would expand American energy production and create jobs by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico as well as offshore of Virginia that have been delayed and cancelled by the Obama administration.

H.R. 1229, Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, will end the Obama administration's de facto drilling moratorium in a safe, responsible and transparent manner, and it will put thousands of Americans back to work, increasing American energy production to help address the rise in gasoline prices that Americans are facing every single day. Every single day, we see gas prices jump.

H.R. 1231, Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, will lift the President's ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the administration to move forward on American energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources.

Many organizations support the three bills I just mentioned: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity, Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Limited Government, the National Federation of Independent Business, the 60 Plus Association, the American Trucking Association. I could go on and on and on. Gulf organizations are supporting the passage of the Outer Continental Shelf legislation, and I could list organization after organization.

I won't continue with those right now because I've been joined by a good friend who is stalwart on this issue and who, I think, has probably done as much or more than any other Republican Member of Congress to try to help make us energy independent as a Nation and to help us create jobs here in America.

My dear friend, John Shimkus, I yield to you.


Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Thank you, Mr. Shimkus. I appreciate it. And I appreciate your efforts over many Congresses since I have been here. I am in my third Congress, as you know. You have been a stalwart fighting this issue all along, and I appreciate the hard work you have done for the people in your district in Illinois and for this Nation. So thank you so much for what you have been doing.

I have also been joined tonight by another friend of mine who has been very active in this issue because he is from Louisiana. He has been on the floor many times talking about the moratorium and the permatorium that has been going on, as some have called it. This has cost people jobs in his home State of Louisiana.

I yield to my good friend Steve Scalise from New Orleans.


Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, the rules that were presented by Mr. Bishop from Utah from the Rules Committee are the two bills that Congressman Scalise was just talking about that will start forcing actually this administration to start letting out leases and helping us to develop our own energy resources here in America.

But I wanted to ask Mr. Scalise before he leaves, I am on three committees. I am on Natural Resources, I am on the House Homeland Security Committee, and I am also on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Just today in Science, Space, and Technology, I heard Democratic colleagues talk about the number one issue in America today. One lady said, it is jobs, jobs, jobs.

And I have heard it in my other two committees. I've heard that from Democrat after Democrat. I know the gentleman is on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the question I wanted to ask Mr. Scalise is, Have you heard in that committee, one of our eight committees--one of the most important committees dealing with energy production--have you heard that same mantra from our Democrats on Energy and Commerce? Has it been jobs that we need to be focusing upon?


Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Absolutely. In fact, I'm not a good lawyer--I'm not even a lawyer. I'm a medical doctor, as the gentleman knows. In law school they teach you not to ask a question if you don't know what the answer is. And I didn't know what your answer was going to be, but I felt sure you were going to answer the way you did, for the simple reason that we hear our colleagues on the other side, the Democrats, keep talking about wanting to create jobs. But their policies are destroying jobs--American jobs, private pay jobs. Their policies are developing bigger jobs, bigger government here in Washington, D.C., so much so that the only city in this country that real estate prices have not gone down is Washington, D.C. They've gone up.

Why? Because this administration, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their colleagues in the House and the Senate in the 111th Congress are creating bigger government, more regulations, more taxes, more attacks on jobs in the private sector, more attacks on small businesses, and it's creating a bigger government. Thus, higher real estate prices here in Washington because we've created government jobs. They claim about all the jobs created with the stimulus bill, et cetera, but it's government jobs is pretty much what we're creating.

We've got another problem. In fact, I introduced H.R. 1032, the RELIEF Act, because we have excessive and frivolous lawsuits against our own energy production and it has significantly delayed and in many cases prevented our
energy resources from reaching the American marketplace. H.R. 1032, the RELIEF Act, doesn't stop people from having their day in court. But what it would do is it would allow the environmental wackos that are trying to stop energy production here in this country from having this endless plethora of lawsuits that stop the permitting and stop the production.

What it would do is it would require that all lawsuits be filed within 60 days and that the courts would have to have a determination or solution to that case within 180 days, and that if the district court ruling was appealed, that it would go to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court would have a ruling within another 180 days. It would also allow some relief from the frivolous lawsuits by allowing the prevailing party to be able to seek legal fees and other expenses under the Act. This is the kind of bill that we need to pass. I've been asking Members of Congress to cosponsor this because we need to pass this kind of legislation.

We hear from our colleagues, Let's stop the subsidies to the big oil companies with all their billions of dollars of profits. I would like to stop subsidies to everything, including ethanol, which has not made sense. I'm a good southern boy. I love my grits and cornbread. And it makes no sense to me to drive down the road burning up my grits and cornbread in my Yukon. It's destroying engines, it's destroying food prices, it's destroying jobs here in this country. We need to stop all of this. We need to start developing our own energy resources.

Mr. Speaker, what can the American people do? What American people can do is contact their Members of the Senate and the House and demand that we start producing American energy. America is not secure as a Nation because we're not energy secure. We've got to start developing our own energy resources here in America. All of them. We need to have an all-of-the-above energy policy. It's up to the American people to demand that from their Members of the House as well as the Senate.

Former U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen one time said when he feels the heat, he sees the light. The American people absolutely must contact their Senators and Congressmen to say: We need American energy. We've got to start developing our own energy resources--all of the American energy resources--coal, oil, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear energy. Every single energy resource. It's absolutely critical. It's critical for us to lower the cost of American energy, lower the cost of groceries in the grocery store and in restaurants, lower the cost of all goods and services by lowering the cost of energy production, make us secure as a Nation. It's up to the American people to demand it from your Member of Congress, from both your U.S. Senators as well as U.S. House Member. If we get enough heat upon Members of Congress, particularly heat upon our Democratic colleagues in the House as well as our Democratic colleagues in the Senate, as well as the Obama administration, we can be a secure Nation, we can be energy independent. We must. And it's up to the American people to demand it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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