Feb 29 2012
In a speech on the Senate Floor today, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called on President Obama to put forward an energy policy that increases American energy production and creates jobs here at home. Hatch outlined a number of ways the President has stood in the way of increased American energy production, and lower gas prices and home heating costs, such as stopping the Keystone XL pipeline project and closing off federal land to American energy production.
In his speech, Hatch said that, “Whether it is closing off more federal land to American energy production or saying no to the Keystone pipeline, this White House has shown that it is more focused on appeasing its extremist ideological allies than putting forward an energy policy that works for Utahns and Americans everywhere.” Hatch added that “Rather than advance an energy agenda that would spur production, lower prices, and create jobs, the President continues to advocate for increased taxes on oil and gas production in the United States. “
Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reduced the federal lands available to oil shale and tar sands development in the West from 2 million acres to only 461,965 acres. Closing off these lands is a significant missed opportunity to create jobs and lower energy costs for Utah and other Western states.
Today, Hatch said that “Days after announcing in his State of the Union, an ‘all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy,’ the Administration cut access to federal lands in the West for oil shale development by 75-percent and proposed a 50-percent royalty hike on domestic energy production on public lands.” He added that “With gas prices and home heating costs on the rise, the American people deserve action, not more campaign speeches from the most anti-American-energy Administration in our nation’s history.”
To watch Hatch’s speech click HERE. His full remarks are below:
Mr. / Mdme. President, the first three years of President Obama’s Administration were a frenzy of activity. He pushed the stimulus. He spent over a year pursuing his health care law. He forced through Dodd-Frank, imposing historic regulations on the banking industry.
Yet, at a time when the nation was in economic free-fall, the President chose an agenda of more regulation and higher taxes.
The President ignored private sector job creation and the primacy of economic growth. And nowhere was this more evident than with respect to energy policy. President Obama has failed entirely to address one of the greatest obstacles to economic growth — high energy prices.
Today, he claims that he is for an all-of-the-above approach to energy. All of a sudden — facing $5 a gallon gasoline, weak job creation, and a presidential election — he claims to have found religion on energy production.
But whether we look at oil, natural gas, or the Keystone pipeline, the American people are not buying this conversion story.
This failure by the President to tackle our energy needs is a national crisis, for which the American people will hold him to account. Yet this inability to put jobs ahead of his radical and unrepresentative environmental base, has particular implications for the citizens of my state of Utah as well.
Days after announcing in his State of the Union, an “all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy,” the Administration cut access to federal lands in the West for oil shale development by 75-percent and proposed a 50-percent royalty hike on domestic energy production on public lands.
Whether it is closing off more federal land to American energy production or saying no to the Keystone pipeline, this White House has shown that it is more focused on appeasing its extremist ideological allies than putting forward an energy policy that works for Utahns and Americans everywhere. With gas prices and home heating costs on the rise, the American people deserve action, not more campaign speeches from the most anti-American-energy Administration in our nation’s history.
When it comes to energy policy, the President is a man divided. On almost all economic policy, his answer is tax the rich more. Taxing the rich more is his go-to option for reducing the deficit, paying for Obamacare, and paying for new roads and bridges.
Higher taxes are a matter of fundamental fairness the President claims.
But when it comes to gas prices, the President sides with the one percent. The folks who would benefit most from increased energy production are blue collar workers and middle class families. High energy prices hit the wallets of lower income Americans the hardest. Middle class Americans are more likely to have longer commutes and bigger cars than wealthy urban citizens. The pass-through cost of high fuel prices hits the grocery budgets of all Americans. And the jobs that never materialized due to the failure to develop energy resources undermines blue collar America.
The President claims to be for fairness, and an egalitarian economic policy.
But his energy policy is incredibly regressive, putting the burden of his environmental agenda on the back of the middle class.
The situation got no better with the budget that the President recently submitted, or with his long delayed proposal for business tax reform.
Rather than advance an energy agenda that would spur production, lower prices, and create jobs, the President continues to advocate for increased taxes on oil and gas production in the United States.
On March 3 of last year, the Congressional Research Service concluded that the President’s proposals would “make oil and natural gas more expensive for U.S. consumers and likely increase foreign dependence.”
The same holds true today.
These decisions are based in political appeals to his elitist base rather than any interest in developing sound energy policy. For example, in his budget the President cites the following as his reason for repealing tax incentives for oil and gas production: “special tax treatment of working interests in oil and gas properties…distorts markets by encouraging more investment in the oil and gas industry than would occur under a neutral system.”
Give me a break.
The reason the President opposes current tax policy for oil and gas is because he opposes distorting markets?
The Energy Information Administration reports that in fiscal year 2010, $14.7 billion in energy-specific subsidies went to advance renewable energy compared to $4.2 billion in energy-related subsidies that went to advance fossil fuels. In other words, there are three times as many government subsidies going to renewable energy than there are going to oil, gas, and coal combined.
That is what you call distorting the market.
Contrary to the President’s presentation, these are not tax loopholes that need to be closed.
The term tax loophole implies that a tax incentive is susceptible to an exploitation of an unintended benefit. While the tax code has some tax loopholes that we clearly must eliminate, the tax expenditures that benefit oil and gas companies were intended to incentivize a particular activity or behavior. For instance, Section 199 of the Internal Revenue Code includes an incentive for the domestic production of oil and gas.
This is no loophole. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, understands that without this incentive we could see an enormous reduction in employment. And it is simply inaccurate to state that this incentive adds little to our economic or energy security.
The American people need to understand that repeal of this policy will only increase our dependence on foreign produced oil.
But this does not seem to bother the President one bit.
On March 20 of last year, the President told a group of political and business leaders in Brazil that we “want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”
As hard as it is to believe, the Administration does not even seem to share the desire of the American people for lower energy prices.
The President’s Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu has stated “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
Mr./Mdme. President, gas prices in Europe are $8 to $10 a gallon and that is where the Administration and environmental activists want gas prices to be for Americans.
Even President Obama stated in 2008 that he would prefer a gradual adjustment to high gasoline prices, just maybe not a quick spike.
The President claims that he is for an all-of-the-above energy policy so long as it does not include off-shore drilling, drilling in our Western lands, the development of energy in Alaska, and the Keystone Pipeline.
My reading of his all-of-the above approach is some-of-the-above, and only those that are poll tested and approved by environmental activists.
This is terrible tax policy. It is terrible energy policy. And it is terrible economic policy.
Unfortunately, it is all we have from this Administration.
The reality is that our country relies upon oil and gas because it is dependable, abundant, affordable, and domestic. Raising taxes on American companies that produce oil and gas will be felt by all Americans, not only at the pump, but also through a decrease in dividends to many middle class shareholders. This is the wrong prescription for our ailing economy.
For this Administration, the goal remains not lower energy prices, but the liberal dream of getting America off of oil.
Just the other day the President’s Secretary of ENERGY acknowledged that the overall goal of his department is not to lower the cost of traditional energy, but to decrease dependency on oil.
For what it is worth, this commitment to restricting domestic production is a policy that divides my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
They know that the President is putting the preferred lifestyle policies of wealthy urbanites ahead of the needs of blue collar and union workers, and middle class Americans.
They know that the decision by President Obama to kill the Keystone Pipeline put environmental interest groups ahead of the needs of workers, commuters, and families.
President Obama has traded in the hard hat and lunch bucket legacy of the Democratic Party for a hipster fedora and a double skim latte.
He has put liberal environmental dreams ahead of the economic reality that working class Americans have been struggling with for years.
The nation’s unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 36 months. The average duration of unemployment was 40.1 weeks in January 2012.
Yet the President and his allies in the Senate have helped to kill projects that would undeniably lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of high-paying American jobs.
Gas prices have now risen for 20 straight days. Gas prices are now up 30 cents over the last month and 18 cents in the past two weeks.
We are cruising toward $5 a gallon gas. And the President resists any long-term solutions to these rising energy prices.
The American people deserve better than this.
They have waited three long years for a serious energy agenda from this President.
And if he does not address this energy crisis soon, in less than a year the American people will be looking to another President to promote an energy program that will finally create jobs and lower the cost of energy for all Americans.
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