Inhofe’s Energy Speech: ‘Time to End Democratic Party's Obstruction’
July 22, 2008

Contact: Marc Morano (202) 224-5762
marc_morano@epw.senate.gov 
Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797
matthew_dempsey@epw.senate.gov  

Inhofe’s Energy Speech: ‘Time to End Democratic Party's Obstruction’

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, gave a floor speech on America’s energy policy today.

Selected Excerpts of Inhofe’s Energy Speech 

“I believe that America is not running out of oil and gas or running out of places to look for oil and gas.  America is running out of places where the Democrats in Congress are allowing us to look for oil and gas. Again I ask, why should producing America's own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn't be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising… I call on the Democrats to act to expand refinery capacity and to open the nation's access to the Outer Continental Shelf, ANWR, and the Rocky Mountain oil shale, and preserve access to Canadian oil sands.  Today's American oil producer operates with the most sophisticated environmental technologies and policies on the planet.  67 percent of the American people recognize the need for development and support action. It’s time to end the Democratic Party’s obstruction. The American public must demand that the Democrats in Congress allow us to produce our own resources.” 

Lowering Gas Prices

“In 2005, I first introduced the Gas PRICE Act which would improve the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new domestic fuels facilities, as well as encourage and fund the development of future fuels including coal-to-liquids and cellulosic biofuels. In addition, the Act would provide for a more stable and certain regulatory environment and it would have numerous economic benefits, including locating refineries in distressed communities…. If we had passed my legislation in 2005, the private sector would be busy expanding refineries today. If we had passed the Democrat alternative, EPA would still be figuring out how design a refinery. Americans are paying more at the pump today because we do not have the domestic capacity to produce domestic fuels that consumers demand. The American public is starving for affordable energy.  We should be producing more fuel at home – it’s good for security, it’s good for jobs, and it’s good for consumers.”
 

Americans Demand Expanded Domestic Production 

“Americans are clearly embracing the need for expanded domestic production. Recent polling data from Rasmussen shows that 67 percent of American voters support offshore drilling – only 18 percent oppose.  The same poll also found that 64 percent believe that if offshore drilling is allowed, gas prices will go down. Another poll from The Polling Company Inc. found that 81 percent of Americans support greater use of domestic energy resources.” 

Oil & Gas Exploration Prohibited 

“But even though the American public strongly supports expanded use of American resources, oil and gas exploration and production is currently prohibited on 85 percent of America’s offshore waters.  The Pacific and Atlantic regions of the Outer Continental Shelf which hold an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of gas are off-limits.  14 billion barrels of oil are equivalent to more than 25 years’ worth of our imports from Saudi Arabia. Other countries around the world aggressively explore and rightfully embrace the discovery of new oil finds.  Canada allows offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes.  Cuba is also looking to expand exploration, which could occur within 45 miles of parts of Florida and with technology that may be less environmentally sound than that used by American companies.”  

ANWR 

“Looking to Alaska, ANWR is estimated to contain 10 billion barrels of oil – about 15 years’ worth of imports from Saudi Arabia.  If President Clinton hadn’t vetoed legislation allowing environmentally sensitive exploration on the Coastal Plain of ANWR ten years ago, today we would have 1 million additional barrels of oil a day coming from ANWR.   

Oil Shale 

“Turning to oil shale, the potential energy development from these resources is truly massive.  But, once again, Democrats are blocking development.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 established a one-year moratorium on the necessary funding to complete the final regulations for commercial leasing of oil shale.” 

Democrats Block Access to America’s Resources 

“In an effort to hide their true record of blocking access to America’s own resources, the Democrats are engaged in a campaign of shifting blame claiming that there are 68 million acres in America where oil and gas companies have bought the right to drill and they are sitting on them. Very simply, not all leases contain oil.  Sometimes at the end of the day there is no oil or gas found on a lease.  For example, between 2002 and 2007, 52 percent of all the exploration wells and 8 percent of all development wells were dry.”  

Imports 

“By opening the nation's access to the reserves of the Outer Continental Shelf, ANWR, and Oil Shale, we could cut our nation's trade deficit nearly in half.  According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. spent more than $327 billion to import oil in 2007.  These oil imports accounted for 46 percent of the nation's $711 billion trade deficit last year.”  

Full Text of Inhofe’s Floor Remark: Increasing Supply 

The question must be asked: Why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising. 

Bush Calls on Congress for Action

Last month President Bush called on Congressional Democrat leaders to act on a four-point plan to bring down gasoline prices and increase America’s oil and gas production.  The President’s four points correctly focus on expanding exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), opening ANWR, developing America’s oil shales, and expanding refining capacity.  Barrack Obama is against all 4 of these initiatives.  John McCain is for 3 of the 4.
 

Gas Price Act

In 2005, I first introduced the Gas PRICE Act which would improve the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new domestic fuels facilities, as well as encourage and fund the development of future fuels including coal-to-liquids and cellulosic biofuels. In addition, the Act would provide for a more stable and certain regulatory environment and it would have numerous economic benefits including locating refineries in distressed communities. The Gas PRICE Act received broad bipartisan support from stakeholders including state and local officials.  My legislation recognized that states have the dominant role in permitting through their delegated or authorized federal programs. Therefore, the bill helped participating states by providing them with EPA resources to assist them in pursuing their own objectives as they see them, and it did so, as the EPA career experts confirmed, “without any changes to substantive environmental laws.” In fact, the legislation had a savings clause to safe guard the environmental laws. If we had passed my legislation in 2005, the private sector would be busy expanding refineries today. If we had passed the Democrat alternative, EPA would still be trying to figure out how to design a refinery. Americans are paying more at the pump today because we do not have the domestic capacity to produce domestic fuels consumers demand. The American public is starving for affordable energy and it appears the Democrats' only answer is to tell them to go on a diet. We should be producing more fuel at home – it’s good for security, it’s good for jobs, and it’s good for consumers. Why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising. 

Polling Shows Strong Support for Utilizing Domestic Energy 

In addition to the need for expanded refinery capacity, Americans are clearly embracing the need for expanded domestic production. Recent polling data from Rasmussen shows that 67 percent of American voters support offshore drilling – only 18 percent oppose.  The same poll also found that 64 percent believe that if offshore drilling is allowed, gas prices will go down. Another poll from the Polling Company, Inc. found that 81 percent of Americans support greater use of domestic energy resources.  By a margin of more than four-to-one, Americans surveyed supported the U.S. tapping into its “own domestic energy reserves, including the oil and coal it already has here in the United States” in order to “combat the rising cost of energy and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources” (81 percent : 16 percent). 

Offshore 

But even though the American public strongly supports expanded use of  American resources, oil and gas exploration and production are currently prohibited on 85 percent of America’s offshore waters.  The Pacific and Atlantic regions of the Outer Continental Shelf which hold an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of gas are off-limits.  14 billion barrels of oil are equivalent to more than 25 years’ worth of our imports from Saudi Arabia. Other countries around the world aggressively explore and rightfully embrace the discovery of new oil finds.  Canada allows offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Great Lakes. 

Although they are not currently drilling, Cuba is also looking to expand exploration, which could occur within 45 miles of parts of Florida and with technology that may be less environmentally sound than that used by American companies. With 81 percent of Americans wanting to produce, why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is. 

The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising. As described in the Wall Street Journal, Brazil announced last year a major offshore oil discovery in the Santos Basin with potentially billions of barrels in reserves:  When Brazil made this find last November, did its legislature announce that for fear of oil spills hitting Rio's beaches or altering the climate it would forgo exploiting these fields? Of course it didn't. Guilherme Estrella, director of exploration and production for the Brazilian oil company Petrobras said, "It's an extraordinary position for Brazil to be in." Indeed it is. At this point in time, is there another country on the face of the earth that would possess the oil and gas reserves held by the United States and refuse to exploit them? Only technical incompetence... would hold anyone back. – (June 12, 2008 ) 

No country on earth has exploration technology as advanced and environmentally sound as ours.  Even so, Democrats oppose offshore production on very misleading environmental grounds.  Major spills from drilling and production platforms are nearly non-existent.  Both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which were massive Category 5's, plowed through the heart of Gulf oil production just four weeks apart, yet no major spills occurred. 

In this regard, a July 3, 2006, Investor’s Business Daily Editorial reported: “Perhaps they could explain how it was, if offshore drilling is so dangerous to the environment, that no major spills were recorded as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared through nearly 3,000 offshore oil and gas platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Norway and Britain have been operating oil platforms in the North Sea for decades without incident... Brazil has achieved petroleum independence in part from the 1.9 million barrels of oil it gets from offshore drilling.  ... a National Academy of Sciences report shows 63% of the petroleum found in North American waters comes from natural seepage from the ocean floor. According to the Department of the Interior, since 1985 more than 7 billion barrels of oil have been produced in federal waters, with less than .001 percent spilled.  It’s likely that more oil has been leaked by cars, SUVs and motor homes traveling to these pristine beaches, or from the boats and jet skis rented by tourists, than is or will be leaked getting oil to fuel them. 

Again, why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply energy... and gas prices keep rising.           

ANWR

Looking to Alaska, ANWR is estimated to contain 10 billion barrels of oil – about 15 years’ worth of imports from Saudi Arabia.  If President Clinton hadn’t vetoed legislation allowing environmentally sensitive exploration on the Coastal Plain of ANWR ten years ago, today we would have 1 million additional barrels of oil a day coming from ANWR. The Heritage Foundation describes ANWR’s 19 million acres as the same size as South Carolina. “Of that area, President Bush proposes opening about 1.5 million acres to exploration (roughly 6 percent of ANWR). Of those 1.5 million acres, only 2,000 -- an area the size of Washington's Dulles International Airport -- would be devoted to drilling.” Columnist Jerome Corsi compares its size and impact with Prudhoe Bay:  “Putting together Prudhoe Bay with the coastal area of ANWR that may be opened to oil exploration and you still get an area that is about the size of a postage stamp on a football field. Prudhoe Bay's gravel pads, gathering lines, production facilities, roads and other infrastructures occupy less than 6,000 acres of land, yet Prudhoe Bay remains America's largest oil field.”

Oil Shales

Turning to oil shales, the potential energy development from these resources is truly massive.  But, once again, Democrats are blocking development.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 established a one-year moratorium on the necessary funding to complete the final regulations for commercial leasing of oil shales.  Without Congressional action, a one-year delay could end up lasting much longer, and, like the Outer Continental Shelf appropriations moratorium, continue year-after-year. The Green River Formation located within Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah contains the equivalent of 6 trillion barrels of oil. The Rand corporation estimates that as many as 1.1 trillion barrels are recoverable and at prices as low as $35 to $48 dollars per barrel, within the first 12 years of commercial scale production.  At current rates of consumption, 1.1 trillion barrels equals more than 145 years of domestic supply.  This number would nearly double assuming the Department of Energy’s estimate of nearly 2 trillion potentially-recoverable barrels. 

Imports 

By opening the nation’s access to the reserves of the Outer Continental Shelf, ANWR, and Oil Shales, we could cut our nation’s trade deficit nearly in half.  According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. spent more than $327 billion to import oil in 2007.  These oil imports accounted for 46 percent of the nation’s $711 billion trade deficit last year. In 2008, many experts anticipate that the amount we spend on oil imports will surpass $400 billion.  Assuming a $130 price per barrel of oil, America will trade more than $135 billion to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for oil imports, when we could be producing these resources here at home.  ANWR, Outer Continental Shelf, and Oil Shales production would help stem this unprecedented transfer of wealth by keeping hundreds of billions of dollars within our economy, creating jobs at home - not overseas. The bill that I introduced with Senator Domenici, the American Energy Production Act of 2008, opens ANWR, the Outer Continental Shelf, and the oil shales to production, and repeals Section 526, preserving America’s access to the Canadian oil sands. I believe that America is not running out of oil and gas or running out of places to look for oil and gas.  America is running out of places where the Democrats in Congress are allowing us to look for oil and gas. Again I ask, why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising. 

The Truth on False and Misleading "68 Million Acres" Claim 

In an effort to hide their true record of blocking access to America’s own resources, the Democrats on the other side of the aisle are engaged in a campaign of shifting blame. Speaker Pelosi recently claimed, “There are 68 million acres in America where oil and gas companies have bought the right to drill ... They are just sitting on them." (Press Conference, 6/10/08) But the Speaker’s comments are based on misleading assumptions.  First and foremost, not all leases contain oil.  Sometimes at the end of the day there is no oil or gas found on a lease.  For example, between 2002 and 2007 52 percent of all the exploration wells and 8 percent of all development wells were dry.  How does the Speaker expect companies to produce oil from an acreage which contains no oil? David Curtiss, the Washington director of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, says, “There’s the misconception that every lease has oil.  A lease is a line on a map. It has nothing to do with the geology of where oil is.” Additionally, it can take years for production to come on line. 

The Wall Street Journal recently explained,  Companies don’t know how much oil is under the lands they lease, so they buy up large swaths in hope that a fraction will work out. Much of the area that isn’t producing, they say, doesn’t have oil or gas in commercially viable quantities. Moreover, bringing a new field into production can require years of mapping, testing, drilling and construction – during which time the land would show up in statistics as being ‘not in production,’ even as companies spend millions or even billions of dollars to bring it on line.” (6/16/08) 

Simple answer:  they are not drilling on 68 million acres because there isn’t any oil there.

In conclusion, I call on the Democrats to act on the President's call to expand refinery capacity and to open the nation's access to the Outer Continental Shelf, ANWR, and the oil shales. Today's American oil producer operates with the most sophisticated environmental technologies and policies on the planet. 67 percent of the American people recognize the need for development and are supporting action. The time for the Democratic party’s obstruction is over. Again, why should producing America’s own resources be a partisan issue?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  The Democrats in Congress refuse to increase our supply of energy... and gas prices keep rising. The American public must demand that the Democrats in Congress allow us to produce our own resources. 

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