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Public Statements

Energy Independence

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, it's good to be in the people's House this afternoon to talk about a topic that is of utmost concern to the American people--energy. What does it mean for America? We all put gas in our cars, we all heat and cool our homes, businesses across this country power their manufacturing processes. So what does energy mean for today and for the future of our country?

I'm proud to be a member of the House Energy Action Team because we understand the critical role that domestic-energy production plays not only today, but in the future of our country. Let me give an example of why this is so important.

I remember one of the very first memorable events that occurred in March of 2011 in my first term. We were addressed here in this Chamber by the Prime Minister of Australia. And in her remarks she commented, she said: ``I remember being a young girl, sitting on the floor of my living room, watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the Moon.'' She went on to talk about how America and Australia had stood side by side, how America had actually stood in front of and protected Australia during some of the darkest days of World War II in the Pacific.

At the end of her speech, she said, "Back when I was a little girl and when I saw that Moon landing, I thought to myself, wow, those Americans can do anything.'' She wrapped up her comments by saying, "Today, as Prime Minister of Australia, with a lot of experience under my belt, I still believe that Americans can do anything.''

When you stop and think about the Moon landing--and I know you're going to say, Well, what does that have to do with energy? I'm getting to that. President Kennedy gave us a vision of putting a man on the Moon in 10 years. We didn't make it in 10 years. We made it in less than 10 years. The reason that we did was that every fabric of our society bought into the idea--academic institutions, the scientific community. Industries cropped up overnight. Millions of jobs were created. Young people lined up to get into academic programs in which they could major in degrees that would prepare them for careers in space exploration.

At the end of the day--actually, we're not at the end of the day--we're still benefiting from the innovation and the technological advance that came out of that era. It was a time when America's imagination was captivated by what many thought was impossible and by what the rest of the world didn't really think we could do. You look at what has happened since we started that journey--at all of the technological innovations that have occurred: cell phones, flat-screen TVs, GPS, even arthroscopic surgery. We had to learn to perform medical procedures on space travelers in a way that was noninvasive, and medical experts began to think about "how do we do that in outer space?'' So we learned how to dream, and that goal to put a man on the Moon captivated America's imagination.

I want you to think for a second about what would happen if America once again embarked on a journey of that magnitude. I believe a journey to become energy independent and secure in America is just such a journey that we could embark on. A vision of energy independence and security would not only captivate the imagination of the American people but it would put America back to work at a time when our economy is in such desperate need of private-sector economic growth. Imagine what would happen if we had a national energy vision that sounded something like this:

We're going to go after the vast volumes of oil and natural gas that we have. In many experts' opinions, we've got more of it than anyone else has in the world. We're going to expand our nuclear footprint because nuclear energy is one of the safest, most reliable forms of energy on the planet. We brought that to the world, and we know how to do it. We're going to continue to mine coal, and we're going to learn how to use it environmentally soundly because we've got enough coal to fuel our energy needs for generations yet to come.

We're even going to embrace alternative forms of energy--biofuels, wind and solar. Now, they're not going to meet our heavy lifting energy needs for the foreseeable future, but there is a role that they play in our overall energy profile. We're going to back that up with action with the regulatory community and tell the regulators at the EPA and the Department of the Interior and at the Army Corps of Engineers: effective today, you start being partners in progress with America's energy industries. Rather than being the department of "no,'' learn how to find a way forward. If a particular project or if a particular technology presents concerns, then let's address those concerns, but "no'' should not be the final answer.

We've learned through the lessons of putting a man on the Moon that, when Americans are allowed to dream, when they're allowed to innovate, when they're allowed to compete, there is nothing that we can't solve.

Why is energy independence and security so important? First of all, it's important because of national security. Right now, today, we are beholden to some countries that don't like us very much for our energy resources. Why do we want to continue to do that when we have the resources right here at home to be able to solve that problem?

In order to captivate the imagination of the American people, we've got to help the American people understand why this is so important to them. We talk about energy in terms of very important projects like the Keystone XL pipeline of which the President, himself, said that the environmental concerns were overexaggerated, so let's get the project approved.

Yet we talk about it in technical terms--pipelines, hydraulic fracturing, oil rigs, nuclear reactors, uranium enrichment. What does all of that mean to American taxpayers--to working Americans who are just struggling day in and day out to make ends meet?

Here is what it means:

Take a manufacturing process, the manufacturing of cereal, Pop-Tarts--you name it, whatever our children consume today. When domestic energy costs are reduced, those manufacturing costs to produce those goods are also reduced. When the price of diesel fuel goes down and when the cost of the transportation to transport those goods from the manufacturers to the grocery stores goes down, those savings are passed on in the costs of the products to the consumers. When working mothers and single moms and single dads who are trying to make ends meet--who are trying to figure out how they're going to put kids through college, how they're going to buy the next pair of tennis shoes--are balancing the checkbooks and when they see that their energy costs to heat and to cool their homes are going down and that they're paying less to fill up their cars to go back and forth to work, that translates into economic confidence to do the kinds of things that we were able to do during that remarkable period of putting a man on the Moon.

Today, we've got a lot of naysayers out there who simply don't understand how important this is, this idea of energy independence and security to the American people, and they're trying to frighten the American people.

Hydraulic fracturing, my goodness. We've been doing hydraulic fracturing in America for over 60 years, over a million such operations. A former EPA administrator, herself, acknowledged there has not been a single incident in which hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the water table. Yet the EPA is working hard to try and insert itself into a process that many, many States are already doing and are already doing very well. Take, for example, the State of Ohio where I come from. Literally, my district sits on top of the Marcellus and the Utica shales, one of the world's largest reservoirs of oil and natural gas.

The State of Ohio has been regulating the oil and gas industry since 1965. We're among those States that have done a lot of hydraulic fracturing, and yet again there is not one proven instance where that process has contaminated drinking water, yet you've got those that sit on the sidelines and try to frighten homeowners, try to frighten those people that live in Appalachian Ohio that their water is going to be contaminated. It's not. It's a proven process.

And just over the last 5 years, we've developed technology called horizontal hydraulic fracturing, where we can go down a mile and then go out horizontally another mile, sometimes more, and have much more of that vital resource of oil and natural gas flowing to the surface, resources that are going to move America one step closer to energy independence and security.

Mr. Speaker, we've got an opportunity to put America back in charge of our economic destiny and an energy vision that is a real all-of-the-above energy vision for this country. It's what America needs.

At this time, I'd like to yield time to my colleague from South Carolina (Mr. Duncan).


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