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Democrats' Attempt to Shut Down Energy Debate Fails

Inhofe Says It's Time For the Senate To Get to Work On Lowering Gas Prices

Get the Facts on Energy and Gas Prices

WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today voted against a motion to proceed to final passage of S. 3268, the Energy Speculation Bill saying that he will work with his Republican colleagues to ensure the Senate works to provide real and meaningful solutions to rising energy costs. Senate Democratic leadership had attempted to block all Senators from offering any amendments to the bill.  

"Today's vote shows that Republicans are willing to stand up and fight to ensure the Senate stays focused on providing solutions to rising energy prices," Senator Inhofe said. "When Democrats allow the Senate to reopen for business on the issue of bringing down energy costs, I am ready to put forward amendments to encourage the development of natural gas vehicles, prolong the feasibility and production from our marginal oil and gas wells, address the market distorting subsidization of fuels in other countries, and repeal federal prohibitions on importing fuels from the Canadian oil sands.

"Republicans in the Senate are serious about providing solutions to rising energy costs. I will continue to stand with my Republican colleagues to ensure the Senate holds a fair and open debate on the need to increase energy supplies.  I believe a large majority of Senators will vote in favor of amendments to open responsible access to America's plentiful energy resources.  Democratic leadership knows this as well.  That's why they're blocking a full and open debate."



Background Information:


Amendments on S. 3268

The Drive America on Natural Gas Act - This amendment (S. Amdt. 5177) encourages auto manufacturers to produce bi-fuel vehicles, streamlines EPA's emissions certifications, and establishes a natural gas vehicle research program.  It promotes the use of a proven alternative fuel and sends a market signal to manufacturers to consider compressed natural gas as a cost competitive alternative. Natural gas is domestic, plentiful, affordable, and clean. The promise of natural gas as a mainstream transportation fuel is achievable today -- not 15 or 20 years from now.

The Marginal Well Production Preservation and Enhancement Act - This amendment (S. Amdt. 5178) streamlines and clarifies government regulations, prolongs economic feasibility, and enhances production volumes from the nation's 719,000 marginal wells.  In 2006, marginal wells produced more than 335 million barrels of oil.  That's equivalent to more than 61 percent of the oil we currently import from Saudi Arabia.  In my own state of Oklahoma, it is the small independents, basically mom-and-pop operations, producing the majority of oil and natural gas, with 85 percent of Oklahoma's oil coming from marginal wells.  These statistics testify to the importance of America's marginal well production.  With gasoline prices at record highs, Congress must ensure that government policies don't discourage and instead prolong and enhance production from these low volume wells.

The Foreign Removal and Elimination of Energy Subsidies Act - This amendment (S. Amdt. 5176) addresses the global market distorting subsidization of fuels in other countries.  While the current national average of gasoline is $4.02 here at home, in China it's just $2.84 per gallon, in Indonesia it's $2.44, in Mexico it's $2.65, and in Venezuela it's just 20 cents per gallon.  While demand for gasoline has dropped more than 3 percent in the U.S., worldwide demand continues to increase despite record high prices for oil.  This increased demand is largely due to the market distorting policies of foreign government.  My legislation implements an aggressive U.S. foreign policy to investigate and engage foreign governments subsidize the price of their fuels. 

Repeal of Section 526 - This amendment (S. Amdt. 5175), offered with Senator Domenici, repeals Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  Less than three years ago, in Section 369 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), Congress found that "United States oil shale, tar sands, and other unconventional fuels are strategically important domestic resources that should be developed to reduce the growing dependence of the United States on politically and economically unstable sources of foreign oil imports."  The Canadian oil sands contain 179.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.  Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act prohibits federal agencies from procuring an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use, other than for research or testing, unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.  We need to repeal this section, allow imports from Canada, and not prohibit U.S. military fueling options.  Section 526 also seeks to bar the U.S. Department of Defense from using coal to liquids and natural gas to liquids fuels.  Currently, the U.S. Air Force has certified B-52's, B-1's, and C-17's on these types of alternative fuels.  In fact, B-52 aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base have been tested with natural gas to liquids fuels developed by Tulsa based Syntroleum Corporation.   


Senator Coleman (S. Amdt. 5137): opening offshore production and encouraging use of hybrid automobiles which are both part of the Republican Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008.    

Senator Craig amendment (S. Amdt. 5153): increases our domestic oil and natural gas production by opening up the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to within 50 miles off Florida's coast.  Conservative estimates done by MMS in 2000 indicate that between 1.57 and 2.78 billion barrels of oil exist in this area.  In 2008, average U.S. production is projected to average 5.1 million barrels of oil a day and average U.S. consumption is projected to be 20 million barrels of oil a day.  We have a long history of successfully drilling for natural gas and oil in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.  Increasing domestic production would stabilize retail gasoline prices.  Today, 7 countries (Vietnam, India, Spain, Norway, Malaysia, Canada and China) are leasing and exploring for oil 45 miles off the coast of Florida in Cuban waters.


Democrats Turn Out the Lights - July 23, 2008 Excerpt: "As American families continue to suffer from high gas prices, Democrats once again denied Senators the ability to debate and offer amendments addressing our crucial energy need, which proves they are not serious about addressing gasoline prices," Senator Inhofe said. "As the most important issue facing Congress, Democrats are dictating a closed process in an effort to deny votes on real solutions. We need to have votes on off-shore drilling; Rocky Mountain oil shales; promoting domestic natural gas as a transportation fuel; repealing section 526 of 2007's energy bill - which would preserve America's ability to import fuels from Canadian oil sands. America demands more from Congress." Read More...

Inhofe Welcomes Senate Debate on Bringing Down Gas Prices - July 22, 2008 Excerpt: Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today voted in favor of the motion to proceed to S. 3268, the Energy Speculation Bill, with the understanding that Senators will be allowed to offer and debate amendments to the bill. Through his leadership position on the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe has been working with his colleagues to find ways to bring down rising energy costs. Last week, Senator Inhofe introduced the "Drive America on Natural Gas Act" as well as a comprehensive energy proposal, the "American Affordable Fuels Act," to address insufficient refining capacity, increase energy supply, and promote the use of future transportation fuels. Read More...

Read More:


Solutions to Skyrocketing Energy Costs

Inhofe Op-Ed: Natural Gas Production Essential To Oklahoma And The Country (The Journal Record)

Inhofe Op-Ed: Filling Up America's Energy Tank (Ada Evening News)

Inhofe Op-Ed: America's Carbon Policy (Tulsa World)

Inhofe Op-Ed Dems Running on Empty (Human Events)

Oklahoma Papers Agree: Time to Drill Offshore

Oklahoman Editorial: Drill Bits: Distortions Keep U.S. Energy On Shelf