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Statement of Senator Mike Enzi

On S. 2204

March 29, 2012

I rise today to discuss high gasoline prices and to express my concern that the legislating we are debating will only cause the price at the pump to increase.  We need to have a serious debate about energy policy in the United States Senate.  We have not passed substantial energy legislation since 2007, and without a sound energy policy, we will continue to see price instability.

Unfortunately, the legislation we are debating is not that sound energy policy.  Instead, it is an effort at political theater, designed to force a vote on a proposal that the Majority finds politically popular.  

Republicans understand that the problem we face today will not be solved by taxing the five largest oil companies.  Unlike the Majority, we understand that you cannot expect to lower energy prices when you increase taxes.  Increasing taxes will lead to higher prices.

I want to see lower prices, and so I oppose S. 2204.  Instead of passing this legislation, the Senate should take up any one of the ideas my colleagues and I have proposed.  

The Senate should pass legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline so we can obtain more of our energy from Canada as opposed to countries like Saudi Arabia.  The Senate should pass legislation to prohibit the EPA from implementing its greenhouse gas policy – which will make it more difficult to use our most abundant, domestic energy source – coal – to power our homes, businesses, and daily lives. 

The Senate should pass legislation to open up more areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to exploration and production, and should require the Administration to grant permits for responsible energy development.  We should also pass legislation to open up a small area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to energy development.

Any one of those actions would have a much more positive impact on our nation’s energy situation than the legislation we are debating today.  S. 2204 is an effort to punish the nation’s five largest energy companies because oil prices are high. 

Republicans stand ready to have a serious debate on energy because we know our policies are the best solution for achieving energy security.  We recognize that the problems we are facing are an undersupply of oil as well as a instability in some countries where a substantial amount of oil is produced. 

To address these issues, I want to produce more American oil on American soil.  I want to see more oil produced in regions like the ANWR.  I want to determine what technology is needed to recover the nearly 800 billion barrels of oil shale that the Rand Corporation has suggested are recoverable.  I want to see permits granted in areas of Wyoming so we can develop our state’s coalbed methane.  We also want to see more wind turbines and solar energy panels in places where they make sense. 

Republicans truly support an all of the above approach.  We support traditional sources like coal, oil, and natural gas.  We support alternative sources like wind and solar.   And our record shows that to be the case.

President Obama claims to support an all of the above approach.  However, his record shows something different.  Earlier this week, his Administration released a rule that will make it exceedingly difficult to build a coal-fired power plan in the future.  That action follows his Administration’s decision in 2010 to put a moratorium on leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and their decision to put in place policies that make it more difficult to develop natural resources on our federal lands.  President Obama claims to support natural gas – at the same time his Administration seeks to stop hydraulic fracturing, the tool that has allowed us to access our abundant natural gas reserves. 

President Obama also claims that there isn’t a silver bullet to bring prices down.  That may be true, but if you add up all of his Administration’s efforts to hold up American energy production, there are a number of measures we could undertake to make our situation better.  Unfortunately, the legislation we are debating today is not one of those measures.

What’s further unfortunate about S. 2204 is that it is an attempt to punish a sector of our economy that is doing well.  The oil and gas sector has created jobs during the recession and employs more than 9 million American workers.  It is a sector that employs a lot of people in my state.  In 2010, more than 21,000 workers were employed in the oil and gas industry in Wyoming.  Instead of punishing these companies for their success, we should be finding ways to work with them so they can put more Americans back to work.

It is valuable to have a discussion about energy like we’ve had this week.  It allows us to point out the differences between the vision we offer of more production and more jobs versus the vision of our colleagues on the other side, which is essentially higher taxes and higher energy prices.  When we’ve finished voting on S. 2204, which everyone acknowledges will fail, we should sit down and have a full debate about our energy future.  I am confident that our vision is the right one if we want an America that has a secure energy future.

I urge my colleagues to oppose S. 2204 and yield the floor.