Inhofe Floor Speech: Stopping the Obama War on Affordable Energy

Mr. President, I voted against the motion to proceed to S. 2204 Monday because - quite frankly - we're wasting our time here.  We knew that Senator Reid was going to fill the tree, block all amendments, and continue to talk about the need to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry, but even Senator Menendez and several Democrats have admitted that this bill will not lower gas prices.

As I discussed on Monday on the floor, the Democrats' plan goes against everything we know about basic economics.  Higher taxes limit supply, and whenever you limit supply, prices go up.  The bottom line is that President Obama and his allies don't have an answer to high gas prices - that's because high gas prices; higher prices for all the energy we use are exactly what they want.  This administration remains committed to a cap-and-trade green energy agenda.  It is a plan that severely restricts domestic development, and drives up the price of gas and electricity.  Let me put it another way: their policies are designed to make traditional energy more expensive so that their desired green energy can compete. There's no question that Obama Administration is attacking affordable energy.

Remember it was Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, who told the Wall Street Journal in 2008 that "[s]omehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." And we all know the infamous quote from President Obama in 2008. He said that under his cap-and-trade plan, "electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket."  Note the word "necessarily."  The President had it right: the point of all their energy policies is to make you pay more on your utility bills. 

If we are serious about lowering prices at the pump, then we need to open up the vast oil and gas resources we that we have at home to development.  After all, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently reported that the United States has the most combined resources of oil, natural gas, and coal on earth.  We have more than Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined.

In fact, with more than 160 billion barrels of recoverable oil, which is enough to maintain America's current rate of production and replace all of our imports from the Persian Gulf for 50 years.  And we have enough natural gas to meet our national demand for 90 years. But today we have onerous government regulations that prevent us from accessing it, and we're the only nation that does this.  We're the only country on earth that restricts the development of our own resources. This kills jobs, it kills tax revenues, and it increases prices at the pump. 

That is why I have introduced three amendments that will address President Obama's war on affordable energy, and I'm going to talk about them now.

S. Amdt. 1974 - American Jobs & Domestic Energy Production Act

In order to increase the development of our wealth of resources, I've introduced a substitute amendment to this bill that will open up literally billions of barrels of oil and gas for commercial development.  It allows drilling in ANWR - the north slope of Alaska.  It opens up all of the Outer Continental Shelf, and it allows oil shale development in the Mountain West.  While the Democrats want to address gas prices by raising taxes, this legislation actually solves the problem by unlocking supply, which will result in lower prices, faster economic growth, and - consequently - more tax revenue.

All told, by tapping into all of our domestic supply of oil and gas, we could increase our economic output by trillions of dollars over the next several decades.  It could increase government tax revenues by $2 trillion, and it would create hundreds of thousands of new, well paying jobs. We have the energy resources we need, and if we develop them, it will significantly improve our economy while also lowering prices at the pump.  It's simple supply and demand. 

S. Amdt. 1963 - Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012

To hold the Obama Administration accountable for their role in gas prices, I am also introducing the Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012 as an amendment. This common-sense amendment would require an interagency committee to conduct a cumulative analysis on certain EPA rules and actions that impact the price of gasoline and diesel fuels.  My amendment is the companion legislation to a bill announced last week by House Energy & Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield.  Specifically, it will help us obtain a better understanding of the costs and consequences of several rules, including:

 - Tier 3 motor vehicle emissions an fuel standards which will levy a $12 billion gas tax on refiners

 - New Source Performance Standards for petroleum refiners which could result in billions of additional environmental compliance costs

 - RFS2 which could force Americans to consume 21 billion gallons of expensive biofuels

 - Ozone standards which will result in $676.8 billion in lost GDP per year

 - Greenhouse Gas PSD and Title V permitting actions which slow down the permitting process, preventing upgraded refining capacity from coming online quickly; this can contribute to price spikes.

It will also delay the implementation of Tier 3 standards, refinery NSPS rules and ozone standards until at least six months after the final report is submitted so that consumers would be protected from a regulatory train wreck that promises to tax them at the pump.

S. Amdt. 1967 - Inhofe-Upton Energy Tax Prevention Act

On Tuesday, we found out that President Obama fully intends to make good on his campaign promise that under his plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity prices would ‘necessarily skyrocket.'

The Obama-EPA announced a massive new global warming energy tax designed to kill coal in American electricity generation - a tax that will significantly raise energy prices on American families. It is their way of achieving their cap-and-trade agenda through regulations because they could not achieve it through legislation. 

The Washington Post reported that greenhouse gas regulations could, "end the construction of new conventional coal-fired facilities in the United States." Another publication, Politico, reported that the regulations "promise to change the way the U.S. gets its power." And the Sierra Club hopes that "It means there will never be another coal plant built without new technology and it probably means even those won't be built because they can't compete."

What do we get in return for these higher energy prices? Remember that it was EPA administrator Lisa Jackson who told this committee in July 2009 that US action alone would have no impact on the climate.  So it would be all cost for no climate gain.

To combat President Obama's war on affordable energy, I am also introducing as an amendment the Energy Tax Prevention Act.  My amendment stops the Obama EPA's back-door cap-and-trade regulations from taking effect. It protects jobs in America's manufacturing sector; protects consumers from higher energy costs; puts Congress - not unelected bureaucrats - in charge of the nation's climate change policies; and ensures that the public health provisions of the Clean Air Act are preserved. 

I believe everyone is this body knows the severe consequence of President Obama's global warming agenda. That is why last year when the United States Senate voted on the Energy Tax Prevention Act, 64 Senators went on record as wanting to rein in the Obama-EPA - and for good reason: they knew that the Obama EPA cap-and-trade regulatory agenda would be devastating for their constituents back home.  As gas prices continue to climb this spring, American consumers can't afford for Senate Democrats to continue to play political games and allow President Obama EPA's regulations to go forward.

We were successful in stopping their job-killing agenda through legislation when we defeated cap-and-trade; now our fight is to stop them from forcing it on the American people through regulations. An overwhelming number of Senators have insisted they want to rein in the Obama-EPA; this amendment gives them another opportunity to decide whether they will stand with President Obama and his destructive war on affordable energy, or their constituents back home, who will suffer the most from hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and the skyrocketing electricity and gas prices this agenda will impose on them.