[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 32 (Wednesday, February 29, 2012)]
[Senate]
[Pages S1101-S1103]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                             ENERGY POLICY

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I want to associate myself with the 
remarks of the Senator from South Dakota and follow up in that regard.
  Yesterday I came to the Senate floor and explained how the 
President's ideological outlook and the policies that have grown out of 
it will only continue to drive up the cost of gasoline at the pump. 
After I spoke, the President's Energy Secretary seemed to confirm it 
when he told a congressional panel that the Department of Energy isn't 
working to drive down the price of gas. They are working to wean us off 
of it altogether, and high gas prices add urgency to those efforts.
  In other words, high gas prices actually help the administration 
achieve what it is trying to achieve. What I suggested yesterday and 
what I am suggesting again this morning is that we look at statements 
such as this and many others from the President and some of his top 
advisers in the past, along with the President's actual policies when 
it comes to assessing the current situation at the pump--not the 
speeches he gives when he starts feeling the political heat for it 
because he can't have it both ways.
  Once again, here are the facts. The President continues to limit off-
shore areas to energy production and is granting fewer leases on public 
land for oil drilling. At the same time, he has encouraged other 
countries such as Brazil to move forward with their off-shore drilling 
projects. The Obama administration continues to impose burdensome 
regulations on the domestic energy sector that will further drive up 
the cost of gasoline for the consumer. He is proposing raising taxes on 
the energy sector, a move that the Congressional Research Service has 
said would drive up costs.
  As we all know, he flatly rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, a 
potentially game-changing domestic energy project that promises not 
only greater independence from Middle Eastern oil but tens of thousands 
of private sector jobs.
  All of these policies help drive up the cost of gasoline and increase 
our dependence on foreign sources of oil, but perhaps none is as 
emblematic of the President's simplistic and punitive approach to 
energy policy as the last one. The President simply cannot claim to 
support a comprehensive approach to energy while at the same time 
standing in the way of the Keystone Pipeline. It doesn't make any 
sense. It is either one or the other.
  Most Americans understand that. That is why many of us were pleased 
when the company that is responsible for building Keystone said it 
plans to move forward with the southern portion of the pipeline, 
despite the administration's decision to block the northern portion to 
alleviate a bottleneck in Cushing, OK. They are just not going to let 
this administration punish them or the rest of those who want to build 
this pipeline.
  Asked about the impact of delays, the company's President and CEO 
said they were partly to blame for the recent spike in gas prices, 
which is presumably why the White House came out in support of the 
move. But the hypocrisy is quite stunning.
  How could a White House that is single-handedly blocking one-half of 
the pipeline to appease an extreme segment of its political base now 
claim to support the southern half of the same pipeline? Well, the 
short answer is they don't have the authority to block the southern 
half, so they think that by claiming to support it, then they can get 
credit from people for being on both sides of the issue. But if 
Keystone is good for America and good for jobs, the President should 
just come out and support the whole pipeline. With gas prices literally 
skyrocketing and growing turmoil in the Middle East, we can't afford 
another year of foot-dragging. It is time for the President to move 
quickly to approve the entire Keystone XL Pipeline. This is literally a 
no-brainer.

  An overwhelming majority of Americans support the Keystone XL 
Pipeline in its entirety. The President should listen to them. Instead 
of lecturing the American people about his idea of fairness, he should 
spend a little more time thinking about what most Americans think is 
fair. Most Americans don't think it is particularly fair that the 
President of the United States is blocking them from tapping into our

[[Page S1102]]

natural resources even as he uses their tax dollars to prop up failing 
solar companies like Solyndra and to hand out bonuses to the executives 
who drive them literally into the ground. Most Americans don't think it 
is fair that their President would want to drive up the cost of 
gasoline they need to get around every day and build their families and 
their businesses and their lives even as he is directing more and more 
of their money to risky solar schemes in his own administration--risky 
solar schemes his own administration says sometimes fail.
  Well, the American people don't ask for much, but they do expect to 
be able to go out there every day and try to build a future for 
themselves and their families without their own President throwing sand 
in the gears. And whether it is high gas prices or government 
regulations or higher debt, the American people are tired of bearing 
the burden so this President can build an economy in which Washington 
calls all the shots. Yes, Americans want lower gas prices, and, yes, 
this President's policies are hurting. But let's be clear about 
something: This debate is not just about gas prices, it is about a 
President who wants to impose a definition of ``fairness'' on the 
American people, yet most of them simply do not accept.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Utah.
  Mr. HATCH. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be 
permitted to finish my remarks and that I be granted enough time to do 
so.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
ordered.
  Mr. HATCH. Madam President, the first 3 years of President Obama's 
administration were a frenzy of activity. He pushed the stimulus, he 
spent over a year pursuing his health care law, and he forced through 
Dodd-Frank, imposing historic regulations on the banking industry. Even 
The Economist magazine has found fault with that. Yet, at a time when 
the Nation was in economic free fall, the President chose an agenda of 
more regulation and higher taxes.
  The President ignored private sector job creation and the primacy of 
economic growth, and nowhere was this more evident than with respect to 
energy policy. President Obama has failed entirely to address one of 
the greatest obstacles to economic growth; that is, high energy prices.
  Today he claims he is for an all-of-the-above approach to energy. All 
of a sudden, facing $5-a-gallon gasoline, weak job creation, and a 
Presidential election, he claims to have found religion on energy 
production. But whether we look at oil, natural gas, or the Keystone 
Pipeline, the American people are not buying this conversion story, and 
I certainly agree with our distinguished minority leader and his 
comments here this morning.
  This failure by the President to tackle our energy needs is a 
national crisis for which the American people should hold him 
accountable. Yet his inability to put jobs ahead of his radical and 
unrepresentative environmental base has particular implications for the 
citizens of my State of Utah as well. Days after announcing in his 
State of the Union an ``all-of-the-above strategy that develops every 
available source of American energy,'' the administration cut access to 
Federal lands in the West for oil shale development by 75 percent and 
proposed a 50 percent royalty hike on domestic energy production on 
public lands.
  Whether it is closing off more Federal lands to American energy 
production or saying no to the Keystone Pipeline, this White House has 
shown it is more focused on appeasing its extremist ideological allies 
than putting forward an energy policy that works for Utahans and 
Americans everywhere. With gas prices and home heating costs on the 
rise, the American people deserve action, not more campaign speeches--
and I might add, from the most anti-American energy administration in 
our Nation's history.
  When it comes to energy policy, the President is a man divided. On 
almost all economic policy, his answer is, tax the rich more. Taxing 
the rich more is his go-to option for reducing the deficit, paying for 
Obamacare, and paying for new roads and bridges. Higher taxes are a 
matter of fundamental fairness, the President claims, but when it comes 
to gas prices, the President sides with the 1 percent.
  The folks who would benefit most from increased energy production are 
blue-collar workers and middle-class families. High energy prices hit 
the wallets of lower income Americans the hardest. Middle-class 
Americans are more likely to have longer commutes and bigger cars than 
wealthy urban citizens. The passthrough cost of high fuel prices hits 
the grocery budgets of all Americans. The jobs that never materialize 
due to the failure to develop energy resources undermines every blue-
collar American.
  The President claims to be for fairness and an egalitarian economic 
policy, but his energy policy is incredibly regressive, putting the 
burden of his environmental agenda on the backs of the middle class. 
The situation got no better with the budget the President recently 
submitted or with this long-delayed proposal for business tax reform.
  Rather than advance an energy agenda that would spur production, 
lower prices, and create jobs, the President continues to advocate for 
increased taxes on oil and gas production in the United States.
  On March 3 of last year, the Congressional Research Service concluded 
that the President's proposals would ``make oil and natural gas more 
expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence.'' 
The same holds true today. These decisions are based in political 
appeals to his elitist base rather than any interest in developing 
sound energy policy. For example, in his budget the President cites the 
following as his reason for repealing tax incentives for oil and gas 
production:

       Special tax treatment of working interests in oil and gas 
     properties . . . distorts markets by encouraging more 
     investment in the oil and gas industry than would occur under 
     a neutral system.

  Give me a break. The reason the President opposes current tax policy 
for oil and gas is because he opposes distorting markets?
  The Energy Information Administration reports that in fiscal year 
2010, $14.7 billion in energy-specific subsidies went to advance 
renewable energy compared to $4.2 billion in energy-related subsidies 
that went to advance fossil fuels. In other words, there are three 
times as many government subsidies going to renewable energy as there 
are going to oil, gas, and coal combined. Now, that is what you call 
distorting the market.
  Contrary to the President's presentation, these are not tax loopholes 
that need to be closed. The term ``tax loophole'' implies that a tax 
incentive is susceptible to an exploitation of an unintended benefit. 
While the Tax Code has some tax loopholes that we must clearly 
eliminate, the tax expenditures that benefit oil and gas companies were 
intended to incentivize a particular activity or behavior. For 
instance, section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code includes an 
incentive for the domestic production of oil and gas. This is no 
loophole. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, understands that without 
this incentive, we could see an enormous reduction in employment, and 
it is simply inaccurate to state that this incentive adds little to our 
economic or energy security.

  The American people need to understand that repeal of this policy 
will only increase our dependence on foreign-produced oil. But this 
does not seem to bother the President one bit. On March 20 of last 
year, the President told a group of political and business leaders in 
Brazil that we ``want to help with technology and support to develop 
these oil reserves safely, and when you're ready to start selling, we 
want to be one of your best customers.''
  As hard as it is to believe, the administration does not even seem to 
share the desire of the American people for lower energy prices. The 
President's Secretary of Energy, Secretary Steven Chu, stated: ``We 
have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in 
Europe.'' Gas prices in Europe are $8 to $10 a gallon, and that is 
where the administration and environmental activists want gas prices to 
be for Americans. Even President Obama stated in 2008 that he would 
prefer a gradual adjustment to high gasoline prices, just maybe not a 
quick spike.
  The President claims he is for an all-of-the-above energy policy so 
long as it

[[Page S1103]]

does not include offshore drilling, drilling on our western lands, the 
development of energy in Alaska, and the Keystone Pipeline. My reading 
of his all-of-the-above approach is some-of-the-above and only those 
that are poll-tested and approved by environmental activists.
  This is terrible tax policy, it is terrible energy policy, and it is 
terrible economic policy. Unfortunately, it is all we have from this 
administration.
  The reality is that our country relies upon oil and gas because it is 
dependable, abundant, affordable, and domestic. Raising taxes on 
American companies that produce oil and gas will be felt by all 
Americans not only at the pump but also through a decrease in dividends 
to many middle-class shareholders. This is the wrong prescription for 
our ailing economy.
  For this administration, the goal remains not lower energy prices but 
the liberal dream of getting America off of oil. Just the other day, 
the President's Secretary of Energy acknowledged that the overall goal 
of his Department is not to lower the cost of traditional energy but to 
decrease dependency on oil.
  For what it is worth, this commitment to restricting domestic 
production is a policy that divides my colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle. They know the President is putting the preferred lifestyle 
policies of wealthy urbanites ahead of the needs of blue-collar and 
union workers and middle-class Americans. They know the decision by the 
President to kill the Keystone Pipeline put environmental interest 
groups ahead of the needs of workers, commuters, and families.
  President Obama has traded in the hardhat-and-lunch-bucket heritage 
of the Democratic Party for a hipster fedora and a double-skim latte. 
He has put liberal environmental dreams ahead of the economic reality 
that working-class Americans have been struggling with for years. The 
Nation's unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 36 straight 
months. The average duration of unemployment was 40.1 weeks in January 
2012. Yet the President and his allies in the Senate have helped to 
kill projects that would undeniably lead to the creation of hundreds of 
thousands of high-paying American jobs.
  Gas prices have now risen for 20 straight days. Gas prices are now up 
30 cents over the last month and 18 cents in the past 2 weeks. We are 
cruising toward $5-a-gallon gas, and the President resists any long-
term solutions to these rising energy prices.
  The American people deserve better than this. They have waited 3 long 
years for a serious energy agenda from this President, and if he does 
not address this energy crisis soon, in less than a year the American 
people will be looking to another President to promote an energy 
program that will finally create jobs and lower the cost of energy for 
all Americans. Look, we have energy within our country's boundaries. We 
have energy that is just begging to be developed, that would help us to 
make it through these trying times. We need the lowest cost energy we 
can possibly have, and we are not going to get it under this President. 
We are not going to get it under this administration. I hope my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle wake up and realize we are 
putting our country right down the drain.

  I saw, sometime over the last couple of weeks, The Economist 
magazine. The front page of that magazine criticizes us for the 
overregulatory nature of our economy and of our government. We are 
making it so it is almost impossible for businesses to expand and 
create high-paid jobs.
  We can solve our own energy needs. We have between 800 billion and 
1.6 trillion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale in Utah, Colorado, 
and Wyoming alone. We have billions of barrels of oil in ANWR up in 
Alaska and billions of barrels of oil at other sites in Alaska. 
Fortunately, we found oil in the Bakken claim in North Dakota, but the 
only reason we have been able to drill there is because it is private 
land. Fortunately, we found some places down in Texas, but again they 
are on private land. We can't get the permits and the ability to drill 
on public land or even develop oil shale on public land. Yes, it would 
cost us more per barrel to develop that oil, but it would also bring 
down the intense problems we have in trying to find enough oil and gas 
to keep our country moving ahead as the greatest country in the world. 
We have to simply get this administration to wake up and realize there 
are many ways we can solve our energy problems--many ways.
  We are also awash in natural gas. A lot of people have been saying we 
need to develop our natural gas. We need to develop more of our energy 
resources than we are developing now. And we can do it. America can do 
it if we get the government off the backs of those who produce energy. 
I hope and pray that Democrats and Republicans alike will lock arms, 
get together, and solve the problems facing our country, regardless of 
this President, who doesn't seem to know what to do or how to do it.
  This is a crucial time for our country. There is no excuse for us to 
be in the mess we are in. But unfortunately, we are here because of the 
poor energy policies of this administration.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan.

                          ____________________