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Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Unfortunately, according to the Congressional Budget Office, these drilling measures the Republicans are bringing out on the House floor today, together, would only raise $4.3 billion over 10 years, less than one-tenth of the revenue shortfall needed to fund our highways.

In reality, this bill amounts to little more than a giveaway of our public lands to Big Oil under the guise of funding our Nation's transportation projects, and most estimates are that no new revenue will be produced that is usable for this transportation bill.

Across the United States, oil production is at its highest level in nearly a decade. Natural gas production has reached levels we have never seen before in the United States. Oil production on public lands offshore is higher than it was during each of the last 3 years of the Bush administration.

According to industry analysts, by this summer, there will be nearly 30 percent more floating rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico than there were prior to the BP spill. Yet the Republican bill would threaten the tourism and fishing economies of coastal States by

allowing drilling off of our beaches in Florida, in California, up and down our east and west coasts, and, as well, in an area extensively used by the military where even Secretary Rumsfeld said ``drilling structures and associated development would be incompatible with military activities'' in this area.

This Congress has not enacted a single safety improvement since the BP spill. The bill would allow for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, ripping out the heart of the crown jewel of our National Wildlife Refuge System. The Arctic Refuge is America's Serengeti. It is one of the natural wonders of the world, like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or the Great Barrier Reef, and it should be protected.

If we allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge, it will set a precedent that will allow the oil and gas industry to place a bull's-eye on each of the 540 wildlife refuges across this country. And this legislation would rush to give away 125,000 acres of public land in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming to Big Oil for oil shale development. However, there is no commercially viable oil shale technology, and oil shale development could have significant impacts on water quality and quantity in the West if there were a commercially viable technology available, which Shell Oil and the Department of the Interior says does not yet exist.

In fact, the Government Accountability Office has said that the impacts of oil shale development on water could be significant but are unknown. What's more, this provision has been included by the majority, despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office says that it would not raise any revenue over the next 10 years to fund our highways. So understand that.

This is a provision which CBO says raises no revenue in the next 10 years, but it's just stuck in here. The oil and gas industry would like to see it, so they just tossed it in. Nothing to do with funding transportation.

And the majority's drilling bills wouldn't even ensure that American natural gas stays here in America to help our consumers. Natural gas prices are six times higher in Asia than they are right here. They are more than three times higher in Europe than they are right here.

Low natural gas prices have been driving the economic recovery of the United States. We have far more natural gas in our country--and it's very low-priced--then we have oil. What the Republican bill will allow to happen is for this natural gas to be exported around the world, and exporting our natural gas would eliminate our competitive edge by driving prices up by as much as 54 percent, according to the Department of Energy.

Not ensuring that the natural gas stays here in the United States ensures that the majority, the Republicans, are imposing a de facto natural gas tax on American agriculture, manufacturing, chemicals, steel, plastics by allowing our gas to be exported.

Here's what T. Boone Pickens says about the idea of exporting American natural gas. Here's what he says:

If we do it, we're truly going to go down as America's dumbest generation. It's bad public policy to export natural gas.

Our natural gas is six times cheaper than Asian; it is three times cheaper than European. What are we doing exporting it? We should keep it here for our own farmers, for our own industries, for our own consumers. That's how we begin to put ourselves on a path of energy independence.

I agree with T. Boone Pickens. We should keep our natural gas here. We should not be following the Republican energy plan of drill here, sell there, and pay more. If we sell this natural gas around the world, the Department of Energy says the price is going up 57 percent here because we'll have less of it. That's how supply and demand works.

The same dynamic exists in the Keystone portion of the bill, where Republicans have failed to include any assurances that even a drop of the oil or the fuels will stay in this country.

When I asked the president of TransCanada, the pipeline company from Canada, whether he would be willing to commit to keeping the oil that passes through this pipeline in the United States, he said no. And why? Because the oil companies and the refineries want to export the fuels to the highest bidders around the world, leaving the American people with all of the environmental risk and little or none of the energy or economic benefit.

So drill here, sell there, pay more, that's not the Republican mantra. Drill here, drill now, pay less. Now they've morphed into what the oil and gas industry want, and all of the economic indicators point to the conclusion that our consumers will be harmed by that.

On the question of the totality of the economic benefits for our country, they are simultaneously proposing to kill the tax breaks for the wind industry, which is now creating 85,000 jobs in our country, in the face of the wind industry, saying that they will have to lay off 40,000 people over the next year unless the production tax break for the wind industry stays on the books.

So all of this is basically upside down as an energy policy. My strongest admonition to the Members who are listening to this debate is to vote ``no'' on this Republican proposal.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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