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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRASSLEY. Madam President, I am here to point out that 10 years ago this very day, this Senate decided not to drill for more oil in the United States, where we know oil exists. At that time, the argument that was used was why drill because it was going to take many years to get it online. The Senate bought the argument we shouldn't drill because it was going to take too long.

Today, we think about more opportunities to drill for oil in the United States.

I wish to point out that the very same arguments that were used 10 years ago are being used today: If we drill today, we might not get some of that oil online for several years down the road. We want to be thinking about the future, as we should have thought about the future in 2002, 10 years ago, when we decided not to drill.

Around the country, American consumers are paying near-record prices for gasoline at the pump. The current average price for gasoline is near $3.90. Since January 2009, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has more than doubled. In 2011, consumers spent a greater percentage of their household income on gasoline than any year since 1981, when we thought 90 cents for a gallon of gas was a lot of money.

Affordable energy is a major economic issue. Paying nearly $4 for gas acts as a hidden tax and results in people having less money to spend on other things. Rising energy prices also increase the cost of doing business for job creators, taking away dollars that otherwise could go to hiring workers. We should be doing everything possible to prevent these high energy prices today or tomorrow.

The Senate had an opportunity 10 years ago today to take action to increase our domestic oil supply. Unfortunately, the Senate missed that opportunity. It missed an opportunity for lower prices today and importing something less than the $830 million we spend every day to import oil. We need to keep that money in this country.

Ten years ago today, the Senate considered an amendment offered by then-Senator Frank Murkowski--father to present Senator Lisa Murkowski--to open a tiny portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development. A vote on the cloture motion was rejected by the Democratic majority in the Senate on April 18, 2002.

During that debate, opponents argued that opening ANWR to development would never supply more than 2 percent of our Nation's oil demands. They opposed it based on the belief that opening ANWR wouldn't address the real problems; namely, our dependence upon fossil fuels. They said we needed to work toward a comprehensive approach.

Opening ANWR was also portrayed as a distraction from the real solutions, such as conservation, alternative and renewable energy, and less environmentally sensitive fossil energy development. Some even argued that fully inflated or low friction tires should be a larger part of our national energy policy.

I recognize the need for a comprehensive, balanced national energy policy. I truly believe in an all-of-the-above approach that includes conservation, alternative and renewable energy, nuclear power, and oil and gas development.

But the fact remains we were talking about these policies as solutions to our energy problems in 2002. Yet gas prices are still near $4 a gallon.

I listened to dozens of speakers in the Senate that day who argued against opening ANWR because it wouldn't address our near-term energy needs. They said it would take nearly 10 years to get that oil to the consumers. Ten years ago we were told to forget about opening ANWR because development was too far down the road to impact our energy supply and energy security.

Here are a few quotes from my Democratic colleagues during the debate in April 2002. I am not going to use their names. But this Democratic Senator said:

I oppose the proposal to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Drilling in ANWR will not increase energy independence, even if we started drilling tomorrow, the first barrel of crude oil would not make it to our market for at least ten years. So it would not affect our current energy needs.

Another Democratic Senator said--and these Senators are still here today:

The oil exploration in ANWR will not actually start producing oil for as many as 10 years. Exploring and drilling for oil is not forward thinking.

Another Democratic Senator said this:

That oil would not be available for 10 years. This means drilling in ANWR would not provide any immediate energy relief for American families.

Another Democratic Senator said:

Developing ANWR is simply not a necessary component of a progressive energy policy for this country. For a period starting about 2012--

That is this year, understand; he was looking ahead 10 years--

For a period starting at about 2012, we would see an increase of domestic production under ANWR, if ANWR was open to development. So development would not address the near-term prices or shortages with which people are faced.

Ten years down the road, here we are, but if we drilled back then we would have this oil on line and we would not be spending $830 million every day to import oil.

Another Senator said this:

When my colleagues come to the floor of the Senate and suggest to us that the crisis in the Middle East is a reason to drill in ANWR, that is a misleading argument because no oil will flow from ANWR until from 7 to 10 years from now.

That means if you open the refuge today, you are not going to see oil until about 2012, maybe a couple of years earlier.

You see, a decision made in 2002--people were looking ahead 10 years and saying it was not going to make much difference, but 2012 is here and we could have been using that oil.

Another Senator said:

Oil extracted from the wildlife refuge would not reach refineries for 7 to 10 years.

That is the end of my quotes of several Democratic Senators who are now serving. If they are using the same argument now, are they going to be smart enough to look ahead to 2022 when maybe we could start using the oil we would start drilling for today? The defeat of the Murkowski amendment back in 2002 was then enormously shortsighted. If we had voted to open ANWR 10 years ago, that oil would be driving down the price at the pump for consumers today. You know the rule of economics; if you increase supply, you reduce price. And we would at least be keeping the money in the United States instead of spending $830 million every day to import oil. Time after time, opponents of domestic oil production have argued that because it will not lower prices at the pump today it is not worth doing. You know from the debate of 2002 that is a bunch of hogwash. Does anybody wonder if the American people wish that the Senate had opened ANWR 10 years ago?

It is past time to take action to ramp up domestic production of traditional energy, energy we can harvest in this country instead of importing it and paying $830 million to import it. Greater domestic energy production would increase supply and help to lower prices. It would create American jobs.

President Obama continues to push policies that contribute to higher gas prices, including restricting access to Federal lands and permitting delays, regulatory threats to refiners, and his decision to deny Keystone XL. He says he is for ``all of the above,'' but when you look at that list, he is for ``none of the above.'' By limiting domestic energy production we have less supply and higher prices.

The Obama administration has made things worse by restricting access to domestic energy sources. The President's record contradicts his remarks that he is for an ``all of the above'' strategy. His policies have prevented more oil production in the United States and resulted in higher prices, lost opportunities for jobs creation, less energy security, and shipping out of the country 830 million of our dollars that could be used in this country and kept in this country, money we are spending to import oil.

President Obama's denying of the Keystone XL Pipeline inhibits energy-related development that could create 20,000 jobs. Greater domestic energy production would increase supply and help to lower prices, and it would create American jobs.

It is time to take action. Denying ANWR development 10 years ago was a mistake, a mistake I hope we learn a lesson from. The Senate missed an opportunity 10 years ago that would have brought gas price relief and more supply, keeping more money in this country, creating jobs in this country right now. We should not make the same mistake again. You cannot repeat that statement too often. We should not make the same mistake again. We should be looking ahead 10 years, as they were doing in 2002, but they were using it as an excuse to do nothing. So don't ever tell me don't drill today because it will not come on line until 10 years from now. That is not a very wise thing to say to me, after you said that 10 years ago. We should have learned the lesson.

I yield the floor.


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