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Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I am happy and honored to join my colleague from Alaska, and also our colleague Senator Barrasso to talk about a vital issue, U.S. energy--doing something about the price at the pump, including by accessing more of the vital U.S. energy we have right here within our shores.
As the Senator from Alaska has said, at least I give the President kudos for using the right language, saying the right things, even if his policies have not caught up with that yet. He is talking about an ``all-of-the-above'' energy strategy, something we have been advocating for years.
He is also talking about a release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I disagree with that policy, but at least it acknowledges that supply matters. If we increase supply we would lower the price.
I think the important way we need to do that, of course, is to produce more energy at home. A lot of Americans do not realize it, but we are the single most energy rich country in the world, bar none. No one else comes close. When we look at all of our energy resources compared to all of the energy resources of other countries, we are the richest country in terms of energy resources.
Why don't most Americans think of ourselves that way? It is because we are the only country in the world that takes well over 90 percent of those resources and puts them off-limits. Through Federal law, particularly under this Obama administration, America says no. No.
The Obama administration says no. No, you can't drill off the east coast. No, you can't drill off the west coast. No, you can't touch the eastern gulf, at least for now. No, you can do little to nothing offshore Alaska. No, you cannot touch the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. No, we are going to do less instead of more on Federal land. And, no, we are going to reexamine hydraulic fracturing, which is a key process to the development of our rich shale resources even though there is no scientific basis for that attack on hydraulic fracturing.
This administration has said no; no, in terms of policy. The President is saying ``all of the above.'' The President is admitting supply matters. But the policy has not caught up, and it has to catch up.
What am I thinking of? On the Outer Continental Shelf we are rich in resources, in oil and gas. Yet President Obama's 5-year plan, which he is required to submit under law--his 5-year plan for developing that Outer Continental Shelf is only half as much as the previous 5-year plan. We are backing up. We are headed in the wrong direction, not the right direction of accessing more of our own energy.
Permitting in the Gulf of Mexico, where I live--since the BP disaster, permitting first stopped but now has started again, but only at a trickle, and we are still 30 percent to 40 percent below the pace of permitting compared to before the incident. We need to get back to that pace of permitting and then surpass it.
Federal lands, the area that the Federal Government controls most directly--production activity on Federal lands is down from a few years ago. It is not up; it is down 14, 17 percent offshore and onshore--less than a few years ago.
Of course, the Keystone Pipeline was mentioned. That is not quite U.S. energy, but it is as close as we can get to that. It is dependable Canadian energy from a very firm, strong ally. President Obama is saying no to that.
I am happy to hear that his rhetoric has changed in an election year. But when are those policies going to change--on the Outer Continental Shelf, on permitting in the gulf and elsewhere, on Federal land, on the Keystone Pipeline? That is what needs to change.
We need to say yes to solid, dependable American energy. It will increase our energy independence. It will increase our supply and stabilize prices at the pump. It will build great American jobs, jobs which, by the way, cannot be outsourced to China and India if they are domestic energy jobs. It will even bring more revenue into the Federal Government, lowering the deficit and debt.
Let's say yes. Let's say yes, yes to that. I know my colleague, Senator Barrasso, is vitally interested in these issues as well. I turn to him, through the Chair.
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