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Public Statements

Energy Issues

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURTON of Indiana. First of all, I want to thank my good friend Congressman Poe of Texas for putting a face on the problem of high energy prices and high gasoline prices.

I listened to all of the things that you were reading there from your constituents about not being able to go to work or buying huge amounts of gas two or three times a week, and it just breaks your heart. You know, I went to the store the other night and I bought two oranges. They were on sale at a dollar a piece. Two oranges for a dollar a piece. The reason for that is not just because they're growing them and it's costing more; it's because the transportation by diesel trucks and gasoline-powered trucks has gone up so much that they have to pass that onto the consumers with higher prices. If you talk to any man or woman who goes to the store, they'll tell you that they're feeling it when they buy their groceries, as well as at the gas pump.

I'd like to tell you a little story real quickly. You'll find this humorous because you talked about gasoline being 20-some cents when you were a little bit younger. I presume it was a little bit younger.

We were on a trip with some friends of ours, and we went to an island down off the coast of Florida in the Caribbean. This friend of mine and I, we rented two little motor scooters to go out to the corner of the island. Gasoline on the island was very high; it was 50 cents a gallon. He says, I'm not paying 50 cents a gallon for gasoline. So we took what we had in the cycles and we rode out there, and he ran out the gasoline. We had to get a coffee can and turn one cycle upside down to get enough gas in his cycle to get back. Well, we couldn't get my cycle turned back on. So he tried to pull me and my motorcycle, with my wife on the back, with a string back to the hotel room where we were staying, and we couldn't do it. It about broke my finger off.

So they left me at a Portuguese gasoline station where nobody spoke English, and they didn't understand a thing I was saying. My face was burned to a pulp from the sun, and I ended up not getting back until late that night with an almost third-degree burn because he wouldn't pay 50 cents for a gallon of gas. Imagine what he would think today at having to pay $4 for a gallon of gas. The poor guy would just die.

Let me just look at this chart. My colleague was talking just a moment ago--and I wish all of the people in America, if I could talk to them, could see this chart. It shows that back in the early part of the Obama administration, gasoline was about $2.68 a gallon, and now in some parts of the country it is over $4 a gallon. It's killing the economy, it's killing people who have to go to work, as Congressman Poe said, and we have the resources to deal with it.

The thing I wanted to talk about real quickly was--and I talked to Congressman Poe about this--Interior Secretary Salazar, as well as the head of the EPA and the Energy Department, are having an all-out assault on Members of Congress who are pointing out that we have energy in this country that can be tapped to lower the price of energy. They're attacking us, saying that we're just raising red herrings and not dealing with the problems as we should. I want to read this to you. Mr. Salazar, the head of the Interior Department says:

It's in this imagined energy world where we see this growing and continued divide in the energy debate in America. But the divide is not among ordinary Americans; it is between some people here in Washington, D.C.

I guess they mean you and me, Congressman Poe.

He said:

It's a divide between the real energy world that we work on every day and the imagined, fairytale world.

And the President of the United States has said on a number of occasions that we're doing more drilling right now than we ever have and that the American people are being misled.

In addition to the chart I have on gasoline prices, I brought this chart down. This chart, Congressman Poe, shows the number of applications for permits to drill and how they've been affected since the Obama administration has taken place. So I just want to go through these facts. If the President were paying attention, and if I were talking to him--but I know I can't--if I were talking to him, I would say, Mr. President, these are the facts. And I don't know who's giving you these facts down there at the White House, but, Mr. President, you ought to take a look at these facts because they're accurate.

First of all, according to the American Petroleum Institute, the number of new permits to drill issued by the Bureau of Land Management is down by 40 percent, from an average of over 6,400 permits in 2007 and 2008 to an average of 3,962 in 2009 to 2010. That's down by almost 40 percent. We're not drilling where we can. They're not issuing the permits.

During this same period, the number of new wells drilled on Federal land have declined. The number of oil wells have gone down by 40 percent, and the number of new Federal oil and gas leases issued by the Bureau of Land Management is down by almost 50 percent. Is it any wonder we're not going after our resources, we're depending on the Saudis, the people in South America and Venezuela, many of whom don't like us very much? As a result, we're paying more and more and more at the pump.

President Obama says that oil production is at an all-time high during his administration. However, the fact is oil production on Federal land fell by 11 percent last year, and oil production on private and State-owned land--where they couldn't touch it--did go up a little bit. That's what he's talking about. Where the government has control over permits, they're not letting us drill.

Federal lands hold an estimated 116 billion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to produce gasoline for 65 billion cars and fuel oil for 3.2 million households for 60 years. Western oil shale deposits alone are estimated to contain up to five times the amount of Saudi oil reserves. Seventy percent of this oil shale is on Federal land, and we can't get to it because the President and his administration will not let us.

According to a recent CRS report, there are over 21.6 million acres of land leased by the Federal Government that are not currently producing oil or that have not been approved for exploration. Returning to the levels of 2007 and 2008, when the administration started, Federal leasing and permitting levels would have projected an increase of 7 million to 13 million barrels per year of domestic oil production, but they cut it back.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, an estimated 12,000 to 30,000 American jobs would be created in energy producing Western States over the next 4 years if we just went back to where we were drilling in 2007 and 2008. Furthermore, the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President has stopped dead, would bring to our economy thousands of new jobs and transport 830,000 barrels of oil to American refineries, which would be converted into oil and gasoline that would help this economy and lower gas prices.

With gas prices, as my colleague said, very, very high at over $4 a gallon--and in some places here in Washington, it was up to $5 a gallon not too long ago. With gas prices that high and affecting every American, it's clear that the United States needs to become more energy independent and signal to the world that the U.S. is open to production. If we started drilling where we can and exploring where we can, make no mistake, the people who sell oil to us will lower the price because they want to be competitive and they don't want to lose market share.

Whether it's the administration dragging its heels on approving permits for offshore drilling or drilling on Federal land, not opening up land for exploration, or not approving the Keystone pipeline, the Obama administration's policies are failing everyday Americans and costing millions in potential government revenue and thousands of new jobs.

So no matter what the administration people are saying, like Mr. Salazar or the EPA or the Energy Department, the fact is we have enough energy in this country to move toward energy independence over the next 5 to 10 years. But this administration wants to go to new sources of energy like windmills and solar panels and geothermal and nuclear. And all those things are important, but while we're starting to transition to new sources of energy, we need to use the energy that we have, which would lower the cost of energy to the average citizen and lower the price of gasoline so people, as Mr. Poe has said, could get to work and live a competent, fair, friendly life.

With that, Mr. Poe, thank you so much for giving me this time. I'm a big admirer of yours.


Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Down 11 percent.

Mr. POE of Texas. The drilling is taking place on State-owned property or private property, but other lands other than Federal lands. If it wasn't for that, drilling would be down in the United States. If we go back to the Gulf of Mexico, the same situation we have in the Gulf of Mexico has been ever since the BP incident.

Permitting is taking too long. It takes a record amount of days, sometimes months, to issue a permit in the deep water and in the shallow water. The shallow water guys operate with a very small amount of capital. They can't stay and wait around for the government to make a decision on a permit or not, so they aren't able to drill. In the deep water, those deepwater wells, those rigs, they cost $100,000 a day whether they're operating or they're sitting there, and that's why some of them have left the Gulf of Mexico to never return. They've gone down to South America; they've gone to off the coast of Africa, to drill where countries are friendlier to the drilling safely off of their coast.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. If I might, we sent $3 billion of American taxpayers' money to Brazil at a time when we have almost a $16 trillion national debt, and they're drilling in deepwater areas like we would be drilling in off the coast of Mexico. But we can't drill there because of the oil spill and because we can't get permits, so we're sending our taxpayers' dollars down to Brazil so they can do what we can't.

Mr. POE of Texas. If the gentleman will yield, we're not only sending money down there to develop their oil industry, when they develop it, we're going to buy their oil back. So we're paying them twice.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. That's right.

Mr. POE of Texas. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Now, I don't know and I don't really suspect that drilling would be the only answer for raising or lowering the gasoline prices, but it's one factor because of supply and demand. It's not the only factor, but it's one of those. It just seems to me that the United States is the only major power in the world that has an energy policy that is: We're not going to drill in the United States for all these reasons, but we want you to drill in your country your natural resources and we'll buy them from you. It seems a little bit arrogant on our part as a Nation.

Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Let me just say that Sarah Palin, whom everybody
in this country knows, she will tell you, and she's told people all across the country when she speaks, that they have a huge amount of oil in the ANWR and other parts of Alaska, and because of the radical environmentalist groups in this country, they can't drill up there.

Now, I've been up there. I was up there with Don Young. We saw the oil pipeline. If you look at the ANWR, there's nothing up there. You're not going to hurt any of the animals. There's a lot of bugs. There's a lot of vermin up there. But you're not going to hurt the animals by drilling up there, and it's certainly not going to hurt the environment. But it would help if we could bring that oil--millions of barrels of oil--down to the lower 48 States. It would have a tremendous impact, in my opinion, as well as you've said, off the Gulf of Mexico and off the Continental Shelf. We could really move toward energy independence over a period of the next 5 to 10 years. Like you said, it wouldn't happen immediately, but it would be a giant step in the right direction.


Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Well, T. Boone Pickens said--and everybody knows he's one of the big advocates of natural gas, which is a very clean-burning fuel. He said, if we would convert the tractor-trailer units that bring commerce to all of us, we could lower the cost for all those tractor-trailer units, as far as energy consumption is concerned, by 50 percent--cut it in two--and that would have a dramatic impact on things that are transported by tractor-trailer units.

I would just like to say that the President, when he took office--and I'll conclude with this, because you've done such a good job tonight. You've covered it very well. When the President took office, he said that his energy policies would, of necessity, cause energy costs to skyrocket. Well, as Ronald Reagan would say, ``Well, he did, and energy prices have skyrocketed,'' and we've got to do something about it.

The American people don't want to pay $4 or $5 a gallon for gasoline. They can't live that way. It's causing a deterioration in their standard of living.

So if I were talking to the President--and I know I can't, Madam Speaker. But if I were talking to him, I would say, Mr. President, why don't you get with the program. The American people really need your help. And if you don't pay attention to them regarding the energy policies, it's my humble opinion that there may be a big change in administrations next year. So for political survivability alone, you ought to take another look at what you're doing.

And with that, I thank the gentleman very much for yielding to me.


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