Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515
Hatch Attacks Administration’s Anti-Energy Agenda; Calls for Senate Action on Bill to Restore American Production
WASHINGTON –During a speech on the Senate floor today, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch(R-Utah), criticized the Obama Administration’s anti-energy agenda and called on his colleagues in the Senate to support S. 953, the Offshore Production and Safety Act, legislation that will strengthen the production of domestic energy supplies, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and work to reduce prices at the pump.
“I have not seen a more anti-energy Administration than the current one. And all Americans are feeling the pain of President Obama’s suicidal energy policies,” said Hatch. “But, the legislation we are debating today would create real jobs, produce real domestic oil and gas, and lead to deficit-busting revenues for the government. It is a proposal that will strengthen our nation, not weaken it, and finally get us producing American oil again.”
During his speech, Hatch said President Obama has cut federal energy lease offerings by 67 percent on the Rockies and 87 percent in the state of Utah. He further noted the Administration has withdrew 77 energy leases in Utah.
“These leases had been through almost a decade of environmental studies, and had already been auctioned off and paid for by good standing energy companies,” said Hatch. “You know you are dealing with a very aggressive anti-energy agenda when you see leases pulled back that have already been paid for. And the energy companies are not blind; they see it, too.”
Hatch attacked the Administration’s policies to curb domestic energy production, including their attempts to raise taxes on American energy producers and hostile government restrictions that lock up domestic energy in states, like Utah.
Quoting correspondence from a Utah constituent Hatch said, “’The confidence of the oil producers has been undermined by these actions. They have lost a lot of money on the bids for those leases.’”
Hatch has been a longtime advocate for the enactment of a comprehensive energy plan that will increase the nation’s energy independence and lower energy costs for American consumers. This Congress, Hatch has cosponsored The Three-D Bill (Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction), legislation to: reverse bans of some offshore federal lease sales in each Outer Continental Shelf planning area; open ANWR to oil production; direct some of the resulting revenues toward renewable energy production; and reverse President Obama’s recent moves against commercial oil shale production.
Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor this afternoon:
Mr. President, I rise today as a cosponsor of the Republican Leader’s Offshore Production and Safety Act, S. 953. And I must say it is a breath of fresh air to be discussing a substantive energy policy proposal. Last week in the Finance Committee and yesterday on the Senate Floor, we witnessed a cynical charade as some of my colleagues attempted to exploit high gas prices as an excuse to, once again, raise taxes.
It’s no secret that the liberals in Congress have an answer to every problem. But unfortunately, it’s been the same answer for every problem. Whether the problem is healthcare costs, out-of-control spending, unemployment, or high gas prices their answer in every case is to raise taxes.
The American people have caught on to the uninspired monotony of that message.
And in the last election, they sent us their own message.
Enough with the spending, and enough with the taxing.
Apparently, though, that message was not loud enough or clear enough, because the worn out big-government approach remains the only option being offered up by my friends on the other side.
Americans are fed up with lame excuses to expand the size of government. What Americans want, need, and deserve are real solutions to real problems.
And those problems are real. High gas prices are an indicator of a much deeper problem facing our nation’s energy security. It’s a problem that runs deep, but it’s not too difficult to understand. Our problem is a President who would rather buy foreign oil than produce it here in America. In fact, he not only wants to buy foreign oil, he is willing to subsidize it.
I hope Americans were watching the news as President Obama handed over more than $2 billion dollars to Brazil’s government-owned oil company to produce Brazilian oil. Liberals just spent this last week calling basic tax deductions for American companies “subsidies.” Funny thing — because those same liberals appear to have no problem with this gigantic handout of taxpayer dollars to a foreign competitor. At least I’m assuming they have no problem with it, because they have been deathly silent on this subject during this entire debate.
So I hope Americans were watching, because that was their money our President was sending out of our country — out of our economy — and out of reach of the tens of thousands of unemployed American energy workers who this Administration has helped to put out of work.
We all know about the President’s artificially broad moratorium on drilling in the Gulf and how it has devastated that already crippled region. But the President’s anti-Midas touch has reached out to kill oil production in other regions of the country, as well.
Since taking office, President Obama has cut federal energy lease offerings by 67 percent in the Rockies and a whopping 87 percent of in my state of Utah. Is it any wonder we are becoming more dependent on foreign oil? Is it any wonder that our jobless rate remains at historic levels? Is it any wonder that government revenues are down?
And let’s not forget that this is the same President using our tax dollars to subsidize Brazilian oil production to the tune of $2 billion!
After taking office, one of President Obama’s earliest actions was to withdraw 77 energy leases in Utah. These leases had been through almost a decade of environmental studies, and had already been auctioned off and paid for by good standing energy companies. You know you are dealing with a very aggressive anti-energy agenda when you see leases pulled back that have already been paid for. And the energy companies are not blind; they see it, too.
A recent survey of the energy industry in the Rockies tells us the tragic and unnecessary story. Due to the hostile atmosphere created by the Obama Administration, $1.1 billion of capital investment was shifted from the Rockies to other areas, including overseas. If it were not for the anti-energy efforts of this Administration, the companies surveyed stated they would invest an additional $2.8 billion in the region in the future. Eighty-nine of the energy companies surveyed said they would continue to divert investment from the Rockies until the current policies became less hostile, and 71 percent of the industry respondents stated that dissatisfaction with the federal permitting process is the central variable driving investment out of the region.
Some of my friends on the other side have an extremely difficult time understanding this, Mr. President, but when we deter energy companies, we kill real jobs, and we kill domestic energy production, and we make America weaker.
Here we have American companies willing to spend more than $2 billion of their own money to create American jobs and American oil, but President Obama says NO. Yet our President does not hesitate to give more than two billion in taxpayer dollars to Brazil to create foreign jobs. But this story gets worse. The President then hopes that taxpayers will send even more money overseas as we buy Brazil’s oil —oil that we already subsidized in the first place!
But the President saved the best for last. He now proposes to raise taxes on American energy production! This deserves repeating.
The President says NO to American energy companies wanting to use their own profits to make more American Jobs and more American oil. But he then gives away taxpayer money to subsidize foreign jobs and create more dependency on foreign oil. And while he’s at it, he may as well tax American energy production just for good measure.
Well, I said it twice, and it makes less sense the more I think about it.
The whole farce would be comical, if it weren’t so incredibly harmful to our nation and our economy and to American families who have dedicated their lives to providing the United States with the domestic oil and gas we so desperately need.
I would like to read an excerpt of a letter I received from Cindy and Bruce of Uintah County, Utah. They write, “Our family returned to the Vernal, Utah, area…after being absent for 10 years, we realized we loved the area and wanted to be back with our families…. At that point we decided we wanted to try to do more than just get by in life working for someone else….Since things looked very promising for the oilfield industry, we started a small oilfield trucking company…we struggled to make all this work and to establish a reputable and trusted company with a good customer base. In February of 2009, as the new presidential administration and new head of the Department of the Interior took over, the oil and gas production companies slowed their drilling and production programs drastically. The RAPID economic change was shocking. Overnight, we went from being a prospering business to a business that is just hoping we can pay our bills….Our story is not unique. It is the same story for many of our friends, neighbors, and family members. Our lives and the economy here are in shambles. It is not because we did not work hard, spend wisely, follow all the government rules, or that we made irresponsible decisions. It is because of sudden changes in our government.”
Mr. President, it was no naturally occurring economic downturn that killed Bruce’s and Cindy’s business. It was hostile government policies intent on slowing domestic energy production on federal lands.
This point is made again, and again to me in letters from Utahns from this region. One letter states, “As I talk with many people each day at work, there is one common thread: The policies of the current administration have made it a very risky business for companies trying to produce oil in this area. Leases have been cancelled, then re-sold, and then suspended. The confidence of the oil producers has been undermined by these actions. They have lost a lot of money on the bids for those leases.”
These experiences are duplicated wherever federal energy leases are offered. I can say that I have never seen a more anti-energy Administration than the current one. And all Americans are feeling the pain of President Obama’s suicidal energy policies.
Well, today we are talking about a real, solid energy proposal. It’s a proposal that will create American jobs in the Gulf and throughout America’s energy industry. The Offshore Production and Safety Act is a proposal that will strengthen our nation, not weaken it. It will get us producing American oil, again, in the Gulf, and that is a critically important goal.
If I had my choice, we would be discussing a more comprehensive energy bill that would also be reopening oil production on onshore and offshore leases. I am an original Cosponsor of a bill with my colleague Senator David Vitter, called the Three-D bill. The D’s stand for Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction. This bill deserves full Senate consideration. It’s a bill that would increase jobs, reduce energy costs, and generate significant revenue to state and federal governments. In short, the bill, would reverse the Obama Administration’s onerous new constraints on domestic oil and gas production. The Three-D Bill would reverse bans of some offshore federal lease sales in each Outer Continental Shelf planning area; it would open ANWR to oil production, directing some of the resulting revenues toward renewable energy production; and it would reverse President Obama’s recent moves against commercial oil shale production.
Unfortunately, we are not discussing that bill today. And here is why. Republicans have had to force the Democrats’ hands to allow a debate on even a limited proposal such as the one introduced by the Republican leader. But this issue is not going away, and I will continue to push the issue of onshore and offshore federal leases, and advocate for the Three-D bill.
Mr. President, the bill we voted on yesterday had nothing to do with gas prices or energy policy. As we heard from member after member on the other side, that bill was about raising taxes for more government spending.
The bill we are voting on today is a serious energy proposal. It is a smart proposal that, if passed, would create real jobs, produce real domestic oil and gas, and lead to deficit-busting revenues for the government. As such, I strongly support it, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
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