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A Future Where We are in Control of Our Own Energy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the privilege and the honor to be recognized to address you here on the floor of the United States House of Representatives and to follow the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus) here in the well.

I want to first say that he makes clear sense with the argument he makes. We don't hear these arguments enough. Too often, this Congress is dealing with superfluous issues, political issues, rather than practical solutions.

It brings to mind for me the President's speech last night from in front of where you are right now, Mr. Speaker. Very early in his speech, the President said he wants to see a future where we are in control of our own energy. Part of that solution is encompassed by the delivery of John Shimkus here a little bit ago with what to do with nuclear waste. I would say also there are other things we can do from a technical perspective to utilize that, recycle that.

Some of the nuclear waste is tied up because of an Executive order that was signed by President Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago. We haven't cracked the code on how to resolve that even though the science has caught up.

We have a long ways to go, and we need to have an administration that actually means this: A future where we are in control of our own energy. The instant that I heard that statement last night, it occurred to me that the President is in control of our energy, but the American people are not in control of our own energy.

I would point out the Keystone XL pipeline as an example. I heard an instantaneous rumbling here on the floor of the House of Representatives when the statement was made that we were going to be in control of our own energy.

The President also said he wants to see an all-of-the-above energy policy. The all-of-the-above policy includes responsible utilization of all of the nuclear fuel that we have and then responsible positioning of it when we can no longer utilize the energy within it.

But it also includes drilling offshore, and it includes drilling the nonnational parks public lands in the United States, and it includes bringing in energy from other places on the North American continent from our friends, our number one trading partner, Canada, our good friends to the north.

They are in energy-export despair right now because they have listened to what the President had to say. For 3 years, the study has gone on about the Keystone XL pipeline, 1,666 miles of pipeline that runs from Canada down to the gulf coast. It allows for a spur to go off of that to a future refinery that I hope is built in southeastern South Dakota and which would be able to transfer refined oil that would come from the oil sands in northern Alberta and be able to distribute that across the country, primarily to points from there south and east.

Mr. Speaker, the President has blocked the Keystone XL pipeline. He announced last night that he is opening up 75 percent of the--I have forgotten the exact word he used--75 percent of the Federal lands that are eligible, I think would be a fair way to characterize his statement, to drilling for oil. That is news to all of us. It is news to the oil industry, I believe. In the previous State of the Union address that he gave, if I recall correctly, he mentioned that he has opened up drilling in the gulf coast again. In at least one of these addresses that he made, that's what he has said.

But when you look at the permits, it is a different story. They say they are opening up permits again after the BP spill; but we have lost a lot of deepwater rigs to other parts of the oil-developing world, including outside the Western Hemisphere. The industry tells me that once you lose a big rig from a location, it takes about 4 1/2 years to transition it back into the gulf coast again. That has happened to rig after rig down off of the gulf coast.

The announcement that this is the most oil that we have produced or most petroleum that we have produced domestically in 8 years may be true. I don't know anyone else that knew those numbers in this Chamber either. And I am wondering how they defined it, how they quantified it.

In any case, we have a lot of oil that is being produced up in the Bakken region of North Dakota. The reason for that is because they found the oil up there. It is on private land. The Federal Government has not as many tools to obstruct the development of oil production in the Bakken region of North Dakota as they might have in 75 percent of the Federal property that the President addressed last night.

I don't know that any of us believe that he is serious about wanting to develop American energy, especially American petroleum energy. If he were serious about it, why would he not direct the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton--whom he spoke kindly of last night--why would he not direct her to sign the agreement with Canada so that we could go ahead and build the Keystone XL pipeline? The only Federal procedural obstruction left in the way is the permit that is the agreement between Canada and the United States. All that is required to do is to drop that last section of pipe in place right there at the 49th parallel, at the border of the United States and Canada. The rest of that is all green light.

And so if it weren't for the fear that the billions that would be invested for a real return--not to mention the 100,000 jobs that would be created, if you look at the iterations that come forth from not just the construction of the pipeline but the operation of and the economic development that flows from it, 100,000 jobs. But his speech last night was about jobs, and we can't have the 20,000 jobs instantaneously lit up by the Keystone XL pipeline or the additional 80,000 jobs that flow from the economic development from the Keystone XL pipeline. Why? Not because there is a legitimate environmental concern. There is not one left. Not because, as the President said, he needs more time to study it. There has been 3 years to study it.

Think about how this works if you're the President of the United States. You're constantly barraged with decisions that must be made, and you have set up a network, a pyramid of advisors that filter that. You're only dealing with the most difficult problems that there are. Your subordinates take care of all the other decisions. No one--no matter how smart, no matter how quick--really has the mental space to deal with all of the things that go on here in the United States of America. It is humanly impossible. The President has a series of advisers. They advise him.

The President has said, I haven't had time to study the Keystone XL pipeline. The President of the United States is never going to have time to study all of the nuances that have to do with all of the components of the Keystone XL pipeline. Hardly any Member of Congress could dedicate a career to know all the things there are to know about the Keystone XL pipeline. It isn't how we make decisions in the real world. It isn't how the President makes decisions in the real world.

What if the Iranians launched a nuke and it was in the air? Would the President say, ``I don't have time to make a decision''? I would like to think not.

I'd like to believe, Mr. Speaker, that the President would make that decision in a split-second heartbeat. In fact, I'd like to believe he had that delegated so there could be instantaneous action and a response, and we could shoot that missile down before it could get over the continental United States and be within the cone of its target. I'd like to think that would happen.

I'd like to think the President had fail-safe systems in place to protect us for national defense. And I'd like to think that he has a system in place where he can trust his advisers to look at something that is conceptually like the Keystone XL pipeline and be able to say, Mr. President, we've studied this for 3 years--if I'm listening to that briefing, it's already cleared a lot for me at that point, and ``what have you found out?'' would be my question if I had to ask it. And the answer would be, there's no environmental risk. Zero.

We have tens of thousands of miles of pipeline that pump a lot of things more toxic than crude oil through it underneath the ground of the United States of America, and the average number of problems we have that I hear about is zero. And so if we had had spills from an oil pipeline, I guarantee you the environmental extremists would have let us know, and they would have embellished it to the point where everybody in America would know about how horrible it might be if one of those pipelines got a crack in it and some oil seeped out.

But instead, environmental extremists come with this argument. My gosh, it goes over the Ogallala Aquifer. It's an important aquifer, a wonderful, freshwater aquifer. They pump water out of it to irrigate and water cattle and people. That's all true.

But also, it's true that there are hundreds of miles of pipeline that run over the top of the Ogallala Aquifer now, and some of them have things in it that are less digestible than the petroleum that's coming out of the oil sands in Northern Alberta. So I don't have heartburn over that because we have already established we can build pipelines effectively and we can build them safely, with a very, very, very minimal risk of any spills. Statistically it's almost zero.

And by the way, Mr. Speaker, I'm not just speaking as someone who has an opinion, having read a briefing document put together by someone else. I'm actually a guy who's gone out and worked on a pipeline, built pipelines. I've been down in the ditch, I've been up on the bank. I've been a swamper on a bending crew. I've been a welding helper. I've built pipelines in Kansas, I've built them in Iowa, and I understand the mechanics of it, and I understand the system. I understand the labor structure, the business component of it.

And by the way, I'd say this to the Keystone XL pipeline people. Let's do this. Let's take the risk. There's a lot of money invested now anyway. This country needs to move forward. This pipeline will be built. It'll either be built with the approval of this President, or it'll be built after the disapproval of the American people elects us a new President.

So why wouldn't we just take this risk and move this ball down the field a little ways, start that investment and build this pipeline in the United States, build all of it that's appropriate. The only thing that can't be done is you can't cross the 49th parallel. You can come down from Canada right up to that line. We don't know how wide our border is. You know, it's infinitely narrow, at least in theory. But let's say a 20-foot section of pipe--that's what I'd leave out.

Build it down from Canada, stop 10 feet from the 49th parallel, take the GPS locator out there, drive a stake in the middle at the border. Step over to the other side. Oh, wait a minute. Bring your passport, then step over to the other side, and start 10 feet south of the 49th parallel and build that pipeline all the way down to the Gulf Coast.

Now we have it all built, except for 20 feet, and we've done it all within the law, all within the regulations. Everything else is all cleared and wide open. That 20-foot section of pipe can sit there then on the spoil pile, can just sit there, and we can look at that for a while. Let's set up a Web cam and a Web site, and then all the American people and everybody around the world, including the oil sheikhs and the oil cartels and those tyrants that are rich with oil money that are getting more and more belligerent in proportion to the oil price, they can watch too on the Web cam, on the Web site, as that piece of pipe 20 feet long sits there waiting for the President to let Hillary Clinton sign the agreement with Canada so that 20-foot section of pipe could be set in place and welded, and then we could open up the valve and send that oil down to the refineries. And oh, what a breath of economic fresh air that would be.

Mr. Speaker, that's what should be done, and with the Web site and the Web camera watching this still piece of pipe sitting there on the spoil pile right at the 49th parallel, what we need to have also is a little counter on there; that is, how many days they've stalled, how long does he have to think about it now, and how much money is being lost and how many jobs are being lost, three little counters there on that Web site, along with the Web cam shot of the still photo of--well, we can make it a video, can't we--of the section of pipe 20 feet long that's sitting there, 10 feet of it to go in Canada, 10 in the United States.

By the way, somebody's going to sign that permit some day, sooner rather than later, whether it is the new Secretary of State that will be appointed by the successor to Barack Obama, or whether it's Hillary Clinton that might sign that agreement.

I'm standing here, Mr. Speaker, saying this will happen. The Keystone XL pipeline will be built. The American people support it. They know it's environmentally safe and sound. The labor unions want it. There is a tugging of war going on within the political support base for the President, and he found himself in a situation where he had to decide between environmental extremists, a very strong base for him, or the labor unions, another strong base for him. He essentially said to America, I'm making a political

decision here, and I'm going to go with my environmental extremist friends, and the labor unions are going to have to just swallow this one for a while. That's the answer.

He told us he didn't have time to study, and Congress said you shall come back with an answer within 60 days of whether this is an economic security risk for the United States, this pipeline, whether it needs to be built for economic security reasons or not, national security reasons or not.

Twenty-eight days into the 60 days that he had to study--now, remember, he had all of those 3 years to study like everybody else did, and all of those advisers to synthesize this for him, boil it down and give him one or two or three points, all he really needed to know. But instead, he opted to jump the gun, go only 28 days into the 60-day period of time he had and then say, I didn't have time. How would that be?

What if he had to go out and run a race that was 30 or say 60 laps long, and you run that race for 28 of the 60 laps, and then you go, well, I didn't have time to finish the race so I'm quitting now. Cut this thing off, shut it down.

We know the difference. The American people, Mr. Speaker, know the difference between reasons and excuses. The President has given the lamest of excuses. No thinking person in the country believes that it was a reason that he didn't have time to study the Keystone XL pipeline.

It will be built. We need to build it all within the United States and within Canada, leave out that 20-foot section. For the people that might want to set it as a 50-foot section or a 10-foot section, I'm good with all that. I'm not going to quibble.

I'll just tell you here's what I'll do personally, if you'll let me. I'll go up there and swing that section of pipe into place myself, and I'll go down there and grab the welder, and I'll weld it in place myself. I'll weld my initials on that pipe, too, while I'm there and the date, and that date and the time will coincide with the last date and time that will be on the Web site that will be ticker tape rolling through, telling us how much money it's costing not to complete that Keystone XL pipeline, how many days it's been, how many jobs it's cost, and this economic development piece.

So a President that comes to the floor and says last night, I'm for all-of-the-above energy policy, well, let's see. Except for the Keystone XL pipeline, except for drilling offshore, if that means actually issuing permits, except for this mystery that how much public lands he's going to hold off of the production. I think we ought to drill all the nonnational park public lands where there's oil. We don't know how much oil there is in the United States. We haven't been able to examine it. We have not committed the resources to do the inventory. We used to have an inventory that there were 406 trillion cubic feet of natural gas available in the United States. We know that number's a lot higher than that now. We've learned how to develop it.

When we look at the fracking technology, that's another thing that the President didn't speak to last night. But if he's for all of the above, the EPA should not be turning over every stone, looking at every geological nook and cranny trying to come up with a way to block fracking, the fracking technology that's opened up so much energy to this country, developed by Americans. We have about 1.2 million utilizations of fracking, and now the EPA has found some elements that could have been potentially used in fracking in a shallow water location someplace in Wyoming that they say could have actually come from a fracking utilization in a well somewhere. They've not tied it together; they just run that red herring up the flagpole, and now the environmentalists can hyperventilate and they can try to find another way to shut down energy production in America.

Why? Mr. Speaker, what's going through the fixed goals of these people. And to the American people, why do they have patience with that kind of thinking, the effort that goes after the economic development efforts in the United States? What's going on?

And here's what's behind it. The President alluded to that last night, too, come to think of it. He said he doesn't think the votes are in this Congress to pass cap-and-tax. Oh, wait a minute. I might have amended the President's quote a little bit, Mr. Speaker. So I'd back up just a little and say he didn't think the votes were here to pass his proposal or his version in his speech last night of cap-and-trade.

No, they aren't. They aren't because the American people have wised up and so have a lot of Members of Congress. And we have 89 new freshman Republicans in this place, many of them the result of what happens when you try to advance bad policies through this Congress.

So the votes aren't there for cap-and-tax, that's true. The EPA is looking to implement it by order of the President, and his public statement that they could implement and promulgate rules and end up with the same thing as cap-and-tax. So underneath that is the almost religious belief by environmental extremists that if you burn petroleum products and these hydrocarbons release into the atmosphere CO2--and it does, by the way. I can concede that point, the CO2 in the atmosphere--they believe that is the cause of global warming.

Now, first you have to come to a conclusion that global warming is taking place, and then you have to come to the conclusion that it's an unnatural global warming taking place caused by activity of man. Then you have to conclude the activity of man that causes it is the release and suspension of CO2 into the atmosphere.

So I listened to all of that, and I say there's a tough equation to make. And it was really hard for the people in the University of East Anglia and Penn State, Michael Mann and some of those other people to make that case. They had to fabricate, remember? Mr. Speaker, they had to fabricate the case for the actual data that would support even that the Earth was getting warmer, let alone the calculations that it's being caused by CO2 suspended in the atmosphere, let alone that that CO2 is sourced from industry, let alone that that industry is primarily U.S. industry.

So I just ask a few--you might call them dumb--questions, Mr. Speaker. I might call them simple questions, the basic questions that I sometimes find out nobody asks. Everybody is a specialist nowadays, and they only deal with a component of the overall picture. They don't look at the big picture, be it generalist, they say wait a minute, arrange this all for me so a logical rational deductive mind can come to a conclusion, do that first and then we'll get to the details.

And so the physicists deal with the formulae that are handed to them by the meteorologists; and the data, it comes from other places. They accept what comes to them, and they work within their zone. And then who picks up the whole picture? I don't know.

So I just ask this question: tell me if CO2 is suspended into the atmosphere by U.S. industry, is the cause of the theory that global warming exists, then would you tell me how much CO2 is in the atmosphere from the U.S. industry? Because they propose they are going to cut it by one-seventeenth each year until the year 2050.

So if they know the formula that's going to turn down the Earth's thermostat--and, by the way, I spent a lot of my life cold, so I'm not sure that that's a good idea--but I do know that on their comparison chart they have a whole list of bads on one side of the ledger and no list of goods, good things that might happen from a warmer Earth.

So I look at this and I say, all right, so show me, I want to know how much atmosphere has the gravity of the Earth attracted throughout all this time of it orbiting around the Sun and floating through the galaxy. So we get this answer back: it's not a disputed number. The gravity is pulling it so many metric tons. I don't have the number committed to memory, Mr. Speaker, but that is okay. So, fine.

Now we know how much atmosphere there is. Now I'd like to know how much of that atmosphere is CO2 suspended in it as a result of the cumulative effect of U.S. industry since the beginning of the dawn of the industrial revolution. So that calculated out to be, when we did this, 205 years of industrial revolution.

So we add this all up. I said, now, take all of this atmosphere of the Earth, draw it in a circle for me, two sheets of drywall, so to speak, an 8-foot diameter circle, a little bit higher in my hand all the way around. That's the size of the Earth's atmosphere in your pie chart.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'd ask, think about it. How big a circle would you draw in the middle of that 8-foot diameter circle in order to demonstrate the total volume of the CO2 that's suspended in the Earth's atmosphere, a cumulative effect for 205 years of the industrial revolution, this thing that we're going to reduce by one-seventeenth of its emissions each year? By the way, that's one-seventeenth of one-two hundred and fifth the first year. We're going to adjust that, and we're going to use that to turn the Earth's thermostat down.

How big is that circle of CO2 suspended in the atmosphere, 8-foot circle is all the atmosphere? Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to put you on the spot, but I'll just say, here's the answer. One might imagine that it's a 4-foot circle of CO2 suspended or something that could really impact the Earth's temperature.

Well, it's not. It is .56, Mr. Speaker, just a little over a half an inch in diameter. That's the size of the CO2 that's suspended in the Earth's atmosphere, the cumulative effect for 205 years of U.S. industry, some of those times that we were belching a lot of the smoke out into the atmosphere from burning raw coal in ways that aren't nearly as clean as they are now.

So I looked at that and I thought, are you kidding me. An 8-foot circle is the Earth's atmosphere, and we're going to take this .56 circle of all the CO2 that's in there from the U.S., and we're going to reduce that by one-seventeenth, which is actually one-seventeenth of the 205 years that it has accumulated, remember, and we're going to do that for the next 50 years and dial the Earth's temperature down?

What utter arrogance to think that we could do that. Haven't the physicists looked at this, also? I don't think they have.

Then I go back and--see, I'm a generalist, so go across some other studies, Mr. Speaker. I found a book called ``Human Universals,'' and it's written by a Professor Brown from the University of California at Berkeley. I don't usually go there to find my enlightened authors, but he's the only one I could find that actually has written a book on human universals.

What are the common denominators of humanity? What do you see in human beings that has been true since the beginning of time, the first civilization? What did Adam and Eve do, and what did every generation of humanity do that was common to them then that's common to us now and common to every generation across all cultures, civilizations, continents and tribes?

There are a list of about 123 things in his book, and he explains almost all of them. But one of them, Mr. Speaker, this human universal is every generation of man has tried to not just worship the weather, or was affected by the weather. Every generation of man has tried to change the weather, to change the weather. You know, they sacrificed virgins down in Central America and sometimes ripped their heart out and threw them down in the pit, and that was going to change the weather and get it to rain or not rain, as the situation called for.

I just wonder, Mr. Speaker, if this cap-and-tax is not the modern version of the rain dance. And the weather is probably not going to change because we argue in here--and it's probably not going to change because we change the emissions. I think we should, though, put our factories together and control our emissions and have the cleanest atmosphere we can have because it's good for the air we breathe.

But I think it's utter arrogance to believe we're going to adjust the Earth's thermostat with the methodology that we have here. We do know the methodology of cap-and-tax that was advocated by the President last night is a methodology that will transfer our wealth in our industry to countries that care a lot less about the atmosphere, which is my point, Mr. Speaker.

I didn't really intend to go down that path, but I thought it was important to bring it up, and I make another point that came to my attention last night, and it was in the very early part of the President's speech. He spoke of this being the first time in two decades that Osama bin Laden doesn't threaten the American people, a very good thing. I give the President maximum kudos for that and the SEALs, of course. It was the right decision, it was the right order, and it was the right result, a very good thing.

But he went on to say--and, by the way, he delivered that in a subtle fashion that was becoming of the President of the United States in a speech he gave last night--but he went on to say the Taliban's momentum has been broken. I disagree, to this extent: the Taliban's momentum has shifted from military tactical to political.

They have a lot of political momentum. It's not been broken. Their political momentum has been accelerated, Mr. Speaker. I would make this point that if we look at the country of Afghanistan and look back through its history, starting at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties--well, when the Russians invaded Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance, the mujahedin, many of them at the time, took on the Russians and fought them through that decade with the help of Charlie Wilson and at least one Member in this Congress seated today, the help from U.S. missiles that took out Russian helicopters.

But the tenacity of the Northern Alliance today, the tribes from the northern part of Afghanistan that took on, that took on the Russians and drove the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance leaders today, the men who mounted horseback and then themselves led the cavalry charge on horseback and attacked Russian tanks with AK-47s in their hands, these courageous men are the men that drove the Russians out of Afghanistan and, at that point, there was a power vacuum.

The Taliban filled up Afghanistan, and we remember what they did. They blew up the Buddhist temples, and they drove the life expectancy of a woman down. The only country in the world to have a lower life expectancy for women than men was Afghanistan. They treated them horribly. Afghanistan was digressing back to the Stone Age. It was a fertile area for al Qaeda training camps. We got hit on September 11. The United States went in to help them with Special Forces. The Northern Alliance rose up again and, with our help, drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan. Then they handed over their heavy weapons and embraced the constitution that was proposed by the United States State Department, accepting that we would look out for their political interests.

And what do they have?

These warriors, who defeated the Russians and the Taliban, who lost their political influence because they trusted the constitution to represent them and who gave up their heavy weapons, are now watching the White House and President Karzai negotiate with the Taliban.

The Taliban's momentum has not been broken. It has been transitioned into political power, and they are looking today to hand political power over to the Taliban in Afghanistan so that the Afghanistan Government will reflect the wishes of the Taliban and less reflect the wishes of the Northern Alliance.

Mr. Speaker, I would inquire as to how much time I might have remaining.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. KING of Iowa. So I will take 10 seconds to thank you for your attention and for the opportunity to address you. I appreciate that privilege.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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