INHOFE GAS PRICE ACT AMENDMENT VOTE SCHEDULED FOR 11:45AM ET
June 13, 2007
Posted by Matthew_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (10:00am ET)
This morning, Wednesday, June 13, 2007 at 11:45am ET, the Senate is scheduled to vote on Senator Inhofe’s Gas PRICE Act Amendment (1505). Senator Inhofe introduced the amendment yesterday on the Senate Floor- the transcript of his introductory remarks as well as a debate with Senator Boxer that followed is provided below. (See Senator Inhofe press release Boxer Makes Inaccurate Claims About Gas Price Act and FACT VS FICTION ON SENATOR BOXER CLAIMS pdf.)
For more information on the Gas PRICE Act see Gas PRICE Fact Sheet (pdf.)
TRANSCRIPT FROM CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
CREATING LONG-TERM ENERGY ALTERNATIVES FOR THE NATION ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - June 12, 2007)
Congressional Record: [Page: S7515] GPO's PDF
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma is recognized.
AMENDMENT NO. 1505 TO AMENDMENT NO. 1502
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I call up amendment 1505 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Inhofe] proposes an amendment numbered 1505.
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. McCaskill). Without objection, it is so ordered.
(The amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Text of Amendments.'')
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I want to explain this amendment, but first I will yield to the distinguished ranking member of the committee, the senior Senator from New Mexico.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico is recognized.
Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, I thank Senator Inhofe for yielding to me. I am going to take a very few minutes. I have not had a second round on this. I assume both of us will. I have to leave the floor shortly for another meeting. I will stay here up to the last minute. I want to make a couple statements about the bill, as introduced, and what it does in terms of the transportation, gasoline, and diesel consumption in the country.
We have just had the Senator from California explain an amendment that is no longer an amendment; it is in this bill. The Senator expressed in a very profound way, in a very lengthy explanation, this provision which the Senator from California originated. But we must understand that, today, it comes to us from the Commerce Committee, wherein the Feinstein proposal is encapsulated in the bill that was managed in committee by Senator Inouye and Senator Stevens.
I believe Senator Feinstein would join us in giving our appreciation and thanks to the Commerce Committee for the courage they showed. They met to try to help us put together a bill that would address the energy problems of our country and, obviously, immediately we ran into provisions of the law, or matters of law, that had to be changed, which were not part of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The big one out there is what do we do about CAFE standards. What happened before is we had a big hoopla on that, and we will probably still have it, so the Senator from California ought to be ready. Obviously, even though she did not amend, it is in the bill. Those who don't like it will offer an amendment to the bill striking or modifying that provision of the CAFE standards of America that is in the bill.
Over all these years, we have been going back and forth, never getting anything done--until this year. Clearly, this bill before us, which took the CAFE standards and finally said we are going to adopt the changes recommended in the Feinstein bill, which have been bantered around--we are going to adopt it in the language of the Commerce Committee and send it over to the leader, and it will be incorporated in the bill. So when the bill comes over, it has whatever was done in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to save our consumption of gasoline and related products. It has the CAFE standards and a couple of other provisions. I want to say that I believe the bill before us includes the CAFE standards we have spoken of, which were put in the bill by the Commerce Committee, headed by Senators Stevens and Inouye.
In addition to that, which is by itself one of the biggest modifications of our gasoline usage in this country and, obviously, it has a ways to go because it might not clear the Senate later today, or tomorrow, or whenever we figure out that the Senators who want their amendments finally come up. But as before us, this is the largest transportation savings of fuel in history. CAFE standards all by themselves would have been a very big achievement. Everybody knows that. That is in the bill. So there is one.
Secondly, we adopted just about what the President spoke of in his State of the Union Address with reference to biofuels and a new standard for those set forth in the 2005 Energy bill; that is, the big bill. We started down the path of biofuels, but all we had in there was corn-produced biofuels. What we have done in this bill is mandated 21 billion gallons which has to come from cellulosic ethanol by 2022. So the total biofuel required in our bill is 36 billion gallons. Let's hope--I think it will--that we will produce the little, tiny, remaining technology breakthrough, which we are putting everything in, and if that works, we will be on our way to the breakthrough that will permit us to use the cellulosic ethanol I have been speaking of. That will permit us to reach this new high standard of 36 billion gallons.
Remember, we get the CAFE standards, which have been explained, which reduce the amount of gas and diesel used, and then we have this gigantic breakthrough that we expect, and this tremendous amount of fuel that will come from biomass, which I stated to you was 36 billion gallons. Then this bill has a giant set of mandated efficiencies, increases in efficiencies, the biggest we have ever had. In fact, $12 billion will be saved by our consumers from the efficiency provisions, the big items you buy at your hardware store or big chain store, the items you use in your kitchen and that you wash your clothes with--those big items have the new efficiency standards, and we have been toying with them for years. Senator Bingaman has been trying to get them done. They are in this bill.
People might still take them out in the next week, but I don't think so. I think this bill will stay as it is. It is bipartisan. The provisions I am talking about, so far, came out of the Committee bipartisan. CAFE did not come out of our committee, but it came out of Commerce bipartisan, with a very huge majority.
I am pleased that right away when we finish that, we get on with the next thing the bill ought to have in it, and that is some new production. That brings the Senator from Oklahoma in, who has been for a long time trying to get us to do something about the refining situation in our country. I am not even totally familiar with the Senator's amendment. He has given it to us and submitted it to the Senate. Senator Bingaman and his staff are looking at it. We will be looking at it. I don't know when we will vote on it. With his permission, I assumed he would not be upset if we set it aside and go on to some other work and then call it up in due course in the Senate. We will do that after the Senator is finished. We don't think we are going to vote on it right away because we have to study it, and the Senator would not have wanted it otherwise. Senator Bingaman wants to look at it.
There is another matter that was also in this Commerce bill. It has been packaged. We have Energy matters, Commerce matters, and I note that Senator Cantwell is standing on the floor. She had something to do with an amendment in the Commerce Committee that has to do with trying to--if there is gouging taking place out there in the hinterland of America, this amendment she and I will talk about when we are finished with Senator Inhofe's amendment will tell everybody what is in the bill about antigouging that the distinguished Senator worked on. It is mostly hers. Others might have added something, but we will talk about it, so that we put together what will be the package we can all understand--that is, the Energy and Commerce package, plus whatever else came in through the Environment and Public Works Committee--a smaller portion. Put all that together and it is a pretty good bill.
With that, I yield the floor and thank the Senator from Oklahoma for having given me a chance to speak.
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, reclaiming my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma is recognized.
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I appreciate having had the opportunity to yield to the Senator from New Mexico for his explanation. I think it is very important that we understand there are a lot of good things we are looking at in this bill. But he so accurately points out that the big problem we have today--not 10 years from now--is supply. We need to do something about the supply. The bill doesn't adequately address that.
The amendment I have called up, No. 1505, is essentially the same amendment we considered in my Environment and Public Works Committee during the years I served as chairman. It is one of these things where it is very difficult to figure out why anyone could vote against it, because it is permissive, it allows States to do things; it doesn't mandate.
I was pleased to hear the majority leader recognizing that the United States has become too reliant on foreign sources of energy. Unfortunately, the majority's bill presently doesn't improve the situation. Indeed, it could actually worsen it. The fact is that Americans are paying more at the pump because we don't have the domestic capacity to refine the fuels consumers demand. So we are talking about two ways to resolve the problem of supply. One is production, and the other is you can have all the production in the world, but if you don't have the refining capacity, you cannot get it refined and into use.
Some Members' answer is more hybrids than SUVs, but that ignores the profound impact high fuel prices have on our economy. According to the Department of Labor's recent numbers, about 3 percent of the Nation's inflation is directly attributed to high fuel prices. That means whether your constituent drives a gas guzzler, a hybrid, rides a bicycle, or walks, they are paying the same for high fuel prices.
In order to lower those prices, we have two options. We can increase the capacity at home or import more from abroad. The LA Times wrote in May 25, 2007, that ``gas supplies are tight because the United States lacks refining capacity, and every time a refinery shuts down for maintenance, or because of an accident, prices rise. Americans are starving for affordable energy, and the majority's bill tells them to go on a diet.
That is good. We want to have these things to help with our consumption. But the Energy bill really does nothing today in terms of taking care of the supply problem we have.
The good news is it is not too late to do something to improve the situation. It is in that good faith to improve the energy security position of our country that we are offering the Gas Price Act. The lack of domestic refining capacity is not new to many Members, the public, or even to the Federal Reserve. In May of 2005, Chairman Alan Greenspan stated:
The status of world refining capacity has become worrisome and the industry is straining to meet markets which are increasingly dominated by transportation fuels that must meet ever more stringent environmental requirements.
While chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, I held a series of hearings to look into this issue. The very same month I held one of those hearings, the senior Senator from California, who was on the Senate floor speaking a moment ago, Mrs. Feinstein, made this statement in a letter to the Governor of California. It says:
I can see where the cumbersome permitting process, with uncertain outcomes, would make it difficult to plan and implement projects ..... I encourage you to improve the speed and predictability of the permitting process, and believe that this will allow business and government to focus on their limited resources on actions that most benefit the environment.
That is the statement Senator Feinstein made in a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger. I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
The amendment that Senator Thune and I are offering today will improve the energy security of the United States, and it will do so in complete compliance with environmental laws and in concert with State interests.
In her letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, the senior Senator from California was correct in recognizing much of the permitting decisions are by States and not by the Federal Government. That is why we work very hard to recognize the importance of State and local groups in making those decisions.
The Environmental Council of States, which represents State departments of environmental quality, said as much. Keep in mind, this is the council that represents all the different State departments of environmental quality, as well as noting that the Gas Price Act does not weaken the environmental laws.
Similarly, the National Association of Counties stated:
It goes a long way in addressing the concerns of local governments during a refinery siting, ranging from the importance of considering local needs, concerns, and honoring a county's land use authority.
It is important to point this out because it seems that time and time again, some of the Members of this body hide behind the vague concerns over the environment in defending their failure to improve U.S. energy security. After working with a variety of stakeholders, this bill achieves both goals. It increases energy while preserving local governments and environmental quality.
The fact is, like it or not, the United States needs to increase its domestic refining capacity if we are to solve the economic struggles facing every family.
The amendment we are offering today redefines and broadens our understanding of a refinery to be a domestic fuels facility. Oil has and will continue to have a role in the U.S. economy, but the future of our domestic transportation fuel system must also include new sources, such as the ultraclean synfuels derived from coal and cellulosic ethanol derived from homegrown grasses and biomass.
Expanding the existing domestic fuels facilities or constructing new ones is a maze of environmental permitting challenges. This is what the Senator from California was talking about a few minutes ago in trying to encourage Governor Schwarzenegger to streamline this permitting process.
This amendment provides a Governor with the option of requiring the Federal EPA to provide the State with financial and technical resources to accomplish the job and establishes a certain permitting process for all parties. The public demands increasing supplies for transportation fuel, but they also expect that fuel to be good for their health and for the environment.
To that end, the amendment requires the EPA to establish a demonstration to assess the use of Fischer-Tropsch diesel and jet fuel as an emission-control strategy. Initial tests found that Fischer-Tropsch diesel significantly reduces criterion pollutants over conventional fuels and could easily be transported with existing infrastructure.
It should be noted that the ongoing tests at Tinker Air Force Base in my home State of Oklahoma found that Fischer-Tropsch, or coal-to-liquid aircraft fuel, reduced particulates 47 to 90 percent and completely eliminated the SOX emissions over fuels that are used today.
I might add, this is a technology that is here. It needs to be improved upon. We are currently flying a B-52 that has eight engines using this type of fuel.
Good concepts in Washington are bad ideas if no one wants them at home. As a former mayor of Tulsa, I am a strong believer in local and State control. This is something that is controversial in Washington. There are a lot of people in this body who don't think any decision is a good decision unless it is made in Washington. I am the opposite. I feel closer to the people. They should be more involved, and that is why we structured it the way we did.
The Federal Government should provide incentives rather than mandates on local communities. Increasing clean domestic fuel supplies is in the Nation's security interest, but those facilities can also provide high-paying jobs to people in towns in need.
Our amendment provides financial incentives to the two most economically distressed communities in the Nation, towns affected by BRAC and Indian tribes, to consider building both liquids and commercial scale cellulosic ethanol facilities. Here we are talking about people who have gone through the BRAC process, people who have in their States facilities that were military facilities that were closed during the base realignment and closure process.
I am very proud my State of Oklahoma is the leader in the development of the energy crops for cellulosic biofuel. The key now is to promote investment, and nothing would speed the rapid expansion of the cellulosic biofuels industry more than investments by the Nation's traditional providers of liquid transportation fuels.
We have in the State of Oklahoma the Noble Foundation, Oklahoma State University, and Oklahoma University--all very much involved in the development of cellulosic biofuels. It is a technology that is coming. We know it is. I guess what we need to do is understand, while it is coming, we still need to run this great machine called America.
Many integrated oil companies have formed and substantially expanded their biofuels divisions within the past year to prepare for the eventuality of cross-competitive cellulosity biofuels. Oil companies invest in exploration because their stock prices are affected by their declared proven reserves. Creating a definition of renewable reserves would create a similar incentive for them to invest in cellulosic biofuels.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Department of Energy to accelerate the commercial development of oil shale and tar sands. Given the country's interest in developing renewable alternatives to fossil fuel, it is logical that the SEC would develop criteria in cooperation with biomass feedstock sources in its hierarchy at the same time.
This is Congress's least expensive way to jump-start the cellulosic biofuels industry. Increasing capacity to produce clean fuels at home is critical in making America more secure. Passing the Gas Price Act would be a material and substantive action toward this majority's stated goal of energy independence. To vote against it underscores something altogether. They like higher gas prices at the pump.
What we are talking about is something that is permissive. It allows States to opt out, if they want, and it streamlines the permitting process. It requires EPA to establish a demonstration to assess the use of Fischer-Tropsch diesel and jet fuels. It will help in our refining capacity, if we are talking about refineries for petroleum or refineries for biofuels or any other kinds of refineries.
To have a comprehensive Energy bill, we need to do what we have done, what we have already done in this bill, but the problem is here today, as was pointed out by the Senator from New Mexico. We have a supply problem, and that supply problem is here and now. The gas price amendment to expand our refining capacity would dramatically and immediately relieve that problem.
Mr. DOMENICI. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. INHOFE. Again, there are two supply problems--one in production and one in refining capacity.
I will be glad to yield.
Mr. DOMENICI. Madam President, I told Senator Bingaman that I have to leave the floor for about 20 to 25 minutes, and I need somebody here.
Mr. INHOFE. I will be happy to do it. Let me repeat what I told Senator Bingaman privately. I have no intention of bringing up this amendment for a vote now. We will set this amendment aside for other amendments and then hopefully we will have several lined up tomorrow. I think tomorrow we will start these votes.
Mr. DOMENICI. That is what I wanted to tell the Senator. Madam President, can the Senator from Oklahoma stay in my stead?
Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I will stay in his stead.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico.
Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I know there are others waiting to speak. I don't want to delay the proceedings greatly, but I do have some concerns. I would like to ask a couple of questions of the amendment sponsor, if I can.
Mrs. BOXER. Will the Senator yield to me for a question?
Mr. BINGAMAN. Yes, I am glad to yield.
Mrs. BOXER. Because there is so much concern about this amendment
from within this committee and others, I would like to have a vote on this amendment. I don't want to take a lot of time. But I am wondering if my friend will propound some type of unanimous consent request so that the Senators on the floor can respond to the presentation by Senator Inhofe, but then give him time. I just think it might make for a more even flow.
Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, let me respond. I think the simpler thing would be to have the Senator from California, who is the chair of the committee of jurisdiction, go ahead with any statement she wants, and I will withhold my questions at this point. I know there are others wishing to talk about CAFE standards.
The Senator from Oklahoma has indicated a willingness to set his amendment aside. He is not pushing for a vote at this time. Why doesn't the Senator from California go ahead and speak in response to the amendment at this point, and then perhaps we can have the other Senators who want to talk about CAFE standards talk about that issue, and we will see what other amendments we can also line up.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, of course, I support Senator Inhofe's right to offer this amendment, but, to me, it is a disastrous amendment because it is a taxpayer giveaway to the oil companies. And I will explain why it is a total taxpayer giveaway to the oil companies that are making more money now than ever in history.
It doesn't do one thing to expand energy supply--not one thing. It shortcuts many environmental laws, which I will not go into at this time, but if we get further time, I will do that. It shortcuts many environmental laws that protect the air quality which is so important to our families. In California, 9,900 people every year die of particulate matter in their lungs. We cannot afford to say we are going to forget about air quality. That is a disaster. We don't want to become a China where they don't care about their people and their people suffer. We don't want to go there.
In the Energy bill in 2005, oil companies got a huge break, and it was made very attractive for them to open new refineries. My staff informs me that not one company has taken advantage of this break. So there is nothing that I think suggests that even going as far as Senator Inhofe goes, which is a total giveaway, will result in increased energy supply.
This bill never made it out of our committee when the Senator was chairman. It was never offered in the committee since I have been chairman. And if it were to be offered, it would go down.
Let me tell a story about Bakersfield, CA, where Shell Oil owned a refinery. We were all saying how important it was to continue the production of gasoline. In California, 2 percent of our gasoline supply came from this particular refinery.
Guess what. Shell Oil announces they are shutting down the refinery.
We were stunned, and we said: Why?
They said: We are not making a profit.
Guess what we found out. They were making a huge profit.
Then they said: We can't find a buyer.
We said: Really?
We went to the attorney general. We said: Can you help us?
He got involved. At that time, it was Bill Lockyer. Guess what. Somebody stepped forward to purchase the refinery.
Shell Oil wanted to shut down the refinery because they wanted to manipulate the supply. It is as simple as that--more money in their pocket, vertical integration. These are the people we want to reward with the Inhofe amendment? I think not. I think quite the opposite. I think we ought to agree to Senator Cantwell's antigouging amendment. I think we would want automatic investigations by the FTC. That is what I think we would need.
I wish to address some other aspects of this bill. As I understand it, there is an aspect of this bill which I want to make sure my colleagues understand before they come to vote on it, if, in fact, we have a vote. When I say this is a taxpayer giveaway, I mean what I say. There are expedited permits, waiver of all kinds of environmental laws, there is access to Federal lands, free. I say to my friend from New Mexico, can you imagine any other industry that gets free access to Federal lands? Not only do they not have to pay for the land, but they get 88 percent of the costs of the refinery if they are on Federal land and 100 percent reimbursement if they are on Indian land. What a situation--at a time when oil company profits are going through the roof and CEOs are coming before us and putting their heads down as we look at the amount of bonuses they are getting--into the tens of millions of dollars. This is the time to give them Federal land for refineries, which they have shown they are not interested in building? Waive all environmental laws to the detriment of the health and safety of America's families? Reimburse them for 88 to 100 percent of the cost of building their plant? What a deal. If people vote for this, I have a little piece of land in a very rocky part of California I could sell you. This makes no sense at this time.
I say to my colleagues, it is very important that we have supply. I am supporting this new fuels mandate. I see wonderful opportunities in the area of cellulosics that I think are fantastic, very exciting. I am willing to invest in research so we can use coal in a clean way. These things are all exciting. This is an opportunity for business. We don't have to give away the store to the oil companies to build these refineries when, again, I have experience that tells me they are actually shutting down refineries.
In California, the case in point is the Shell oil refinery in Bakersfield, one of the biggest scandals we had there, with nontruths coming after nontruths.
``We don't really want to close it down, but we have to because it is not profitable.'' Oh, yes, it turned out it was profitable. They just want to manipulate the supply.
``We can't find a buyer, we are looking high and low and can't find a buyer.'' In 3 weeks, the attorney general found them a buyer.
Here is the point about this Energy bill which Senator Bingaman is managing. It is the product of three or four different committees, and the bills that are included in the majority leader's package are bills that came out of committee. They have gone through the committee. They have been debated, they have been discussed, and they have been voted out. This particular plan of my friend's--he has every right to offer his amendment. I defend his right to offer it. But it never passed our committee even when the Republicans were in control. It certainly would not pass out of committee today. It is a taxpayer giveaway with absolutely no proof that refineries would be built.
I stand so strongly against this bill, on behalf of the American taxpayer as well as in behalf of the American families who want their health protected and do not want us to waive every single environmental law that protects the quality of the air they breathe inside their bodies.
I yield the floor. I will be back to respond to the comments of my good friend from Oklahoma.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
Mr. INHOFE. Let me respond.
I am not sure what bill the Senator from California is talking about. She didn't really describe this bill at all. Let's go through very quickly her four points, if the Senator from California would like to listen.
First of all, the EDA portion provides grants to local communities, not oil companies. This is not grants going to oil companies. Maybe the Senator from California has not gotten emotional in experiencing what has happened when there are BRAC closings and some of the bases have had to close. But when that happens, the EDA does have the function, and the EDA in this case can provide grants if local communities apply for these grants. If they do not want to apply for them, they do not have to do it. The fund seeks to promote development of future fuels, coal to liquids, cellulosic biomass, not just oil.
This is not the same amendment, I might add, as we tried to pass unsuccessfully by a one-vote margin in the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Second, this idea that there is a rollback in environmental laws--the association representing the environmental
concerns of every State, the Environmental Council of States, clearly states this will not do any such thing. Here is the Environmental Council of the States. Every State belongs to this, including California. It says in here:
This bill does not weaken the standards and allows each State to choose its best course on most of the matters detailed in the bill.
So there you have it. On this matter, the organization that represents all the environmental groups is strongly supporting this.
Will do nothing to increase energy independence? The reason the United States is vulnerable, in a vulnerable position, is because we don't have an adequate supply to meet the demand. Supply--that is what I have been talking about since we started talking here. Reducing demand is only one part of the equation. We want to reduce demand. We also want to increase supply.
I would say probably the most damaging thing that has been stated by the junior Senator--here is a quote by the senior Senator from California. When she talks about streamlining permitting, yes, that is one of the big problems. So I used a quote by Senator Feinstein in a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger. I will read it again because I think maybe the junior Senator wasn't in the Chamber when I talked about this. This is a quote out of the letter:
I can see where a cumbersome permitting process, with uncertain outcomes, would make it difficult to plan and implement projects ..... I encourage you to improve the speed and predictability of the permitting process, and believe that this will allow business and government to focus their limited resources on actions that most benefit the environment.
That is exactly what we want to do. That is a very acute observation by the senior Senator from California.
With that, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, I was not aware that Senator Feinstein was supporting your amendment. Is that what you are suggesting?
Mr. INHOFE. This is a quote. Would you like me to read it again?
Mrs. BOXER. I would like you to read it again.
Mr. INHOFE. I will read it again.
Mrs. BOXER. I would really like that because you are implying that she supports your amendment.
Mr. INHOFE. No, no; I am saying she is concerned about the permitting process.
Mrs. BOXER. We all are. That doesn't mean we support your amendment. Go ahead, read it again.
Mr. INHOFE. ``I can see where a cumbersome permitting process, with uncertain outcomes, would make it difficult to plan and implement projects ..... I encourage you to improve the speed and predictability of the permitting process, and believe that this will allow business and government to focus their limited resources on actions that most benefit the environment.''
This is exactly what this bill does. We have a section in here that allows States, if they want to do it--and there is nothing wrong with allowing States to do what they see is in their best interests. I agree with Senator Feinstein that this would allow States to overcome this cumbersome permitting process, as she states in her statement.
Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, if I might say, I appreciate hearing that. It has nothing to do with this particular amendment, which, basically, is a giveaway to the energy companies at a time when they are making a fortune.
We have a Federal Clean Air Act. We have it for a reason: Air goes from one State to another, one region to another. That is what we have. It is a Federal Clean Air Act. This was passed under Republican and Democratic administrations, over and over again. This is what the people want.
Do they want streamlining of permits? Yes. We all do. I was a county supervisor. I did a lot of my work streamlining permits. That doesn't mean backing off on protecting the people you represent and making sure you have an adequate timeframe to ascertain what are the pollutants that are going to come out of the smokestacks here. What are the diseases that could follow if these pollutants get into the lungs of the people?
This is an amendment which hides behind the word ``streamlining.'' But what it really does, it waives environmental laws.
Yes, I know a lot about this particular amendment. I have to say, the Senator from Oklahoma talks about these local redevelopment authorities--you could have 10 people from oil companies on those redevelopment authorities. You could. So you cannot stand here and tell me this is protective of the public interest.
We have an amendment which has been offered as some kind of a fix to the lack of refineries. You take a look at our refineries. I think the Senator from Washington is aware of this. They remind us a lot of the problems we had with Enron. They keep taking power offline, shutting down the refineries for so-called maintenance, at higher and higher levels. And when Shell Oil had a chance to expand a refinery or keep it going, they chose to shut it down.
My friend doesn't think the refinery companies, I guess, are making enough money. They are making record profits. He wants to give them land for nothing. He says it goes to a redevelopment agency. Yet there is no protection for the public there. At the end of the day, these companies are getting it for free, whether they are getting it from the Federal Government directly to them or the Federal Government through a redevelopment agency. Environmental laws are waived. People in this country will not be protected. It is a backdoor way to repeal part of the Clean Air Act at a time when people are dying of particulate matter.
Now, if you are on Indian land, you get that land, and you get reimbursed 100 percent for the plant. So my friend can get up and say: I didn't read it. And he could read me a quote from my friend, Senator Feinstein, who, as far as I know, is not supporting his amendment. I mean, it is a very tricky thing. I can hold up a statement from Senator Domenici and say: Look at this statement.
I can hold up a statement from every Republican from a speech they made saying how important it is that the people be protected from lung cancer. That has nothing to do with this amendment. It is a good debating tactic, but at the end of the day this amendment failed in the Environment Committee when the Senator from Oklahoma had the gavel, and this amendment would clearly have failed in the committee when I was holding the gavel.
So the fact is, what we are trying to do in this particular legislation is gather around amendments that have been voted out of committee in a bipartisan fashion, that were not contentious, like this one; that are not argumentative, like this one; and that are very unclear and are going in uncharted waters, like this amendment.
I yield the floor.