Sen. Hutchison Strongly Opposes Democratic “No Energy” Bill

Delivers Speech on the Senate Floor Calling on Congress to Increase Energy Produced in America

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Texas’ senior senator, today voted against energy legislation offered by Senate Democrats. Before the vote, Sen. Hutchison delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor:

“Mr. President, the bill before us is pure and simple, a pathetic attempt to even call itself an energy plan. The American people are looking for leadership from the United States Congress. They are looking for something that will help the small businesses not be eaten up with energy costs. American families are being eaten up with the cost of gasoline at the pump, and what do they get in response?
“They get a bill that does not produce one ounce of energy. Not one ounce. It does three things: it enacts a windfall profits tax; it suggests that we sue OPEC; and forms a commission to investigate price gouging. Investigate -- investigate price gouging but the American people are looking for lower electricity costs in their small businesses, lower gas prices. The Republican plan that was put forward by Senator Domenici is a bold plan that will produce results.
“What it does is what we have done in America the last 200 years when we had a problem. That is, use our ingenuity, use our natural resources, use our creativity and come together to meet and beat our problems. That's what the Domenici plan does. We have passed legislation that gives incentives for renewable energy: wind energy, solar power. Those are great things. They are small but they are great things.
“We want to continue that. We want to promote conservation, which we have done, in past energy bills. We want to also expand nuclear power. We haven't had a nuclear power plant open in this country in 25 years. So, the energy bill that we passed under Senator Domenici's leadership does have incentives for investment in nuclear power, because we know it can be done clean, it can be done efficiently, and it will bring down the cost of electricity.
“We have expansion of refineries in the bill that was passed two years ago, again, under the leadership of Senator Domenici. We have to have expanded refineries because the problem in this country today is we don't have enough supply. Our refineries are running at full capacity, but we have not had expansions of our refineries because the regulatory environment has kept any sound management and business plan from being operative for an expanded facility. But we did pass legislation to expand facilities, again, with environmental safeguards to do it right and expand the amount of energy that we would have in our country. Our plan also creates a state option, so that states will have the ability to explore off their outer continental shelf and get a reward for it, get a royalty. That could produce as much as we import from Venezuela, and that is a modest suggestion of what we might be able to get. It could be much more.
“Senator Reid said, ‘forget ANWR, we're not going to do that; it's not going to pass here.’ Well, no, it's not going to pass as long as we have no leadership from the majority in the Senate. It won't pass. But it did pass, it did pass in 1995. And if President Clinton hadn't vetoed it, we would be pumping the same amount of oil that we import from Saudi Arabia every day, and we would not have $4-a-gallon gasoline at the pump for hard-working Americans. So it can pass with leadership. You’re talking about ANWR, an area the size of the state of South Carolina, the area that would be drilled, 2,000 acres, the size of Washington National Airport. It’s a grassy plain. It gets to 70 degrees below zero in the wintertime. It’s not part of the beautiful, pristine wilderness of ANWR. And, yet, it could bring gasoline prices down at the pump. Oil shale in Colorado and Wyoming. We have a balanced approach that will produce energy.
“What does the bill before us do today? Well, let's talk about the windfall profits tax. In 1980, Congress passed one. What happened? It increased exports, it increased our reliance on foreign oil for our energy needs and made America more reliant on foreign sources of energy for our country. That is wrong for our national security and it is wrong for our economy: it exported jobs overseas. It was such an abject failure that Congress repealed it. Why would we be going backward to something that has been proven to take jobs from America, increase the price of oil, and increase our dependence on foreign sources?
“OPEC? They say that OPEC should be increasing its output. This is ludicrous, Mr. President. First, it ignores that OPEC could just retaliate, that they are not going to abide by American law. They’re not responsible for us. And, yet, at the same time the Democrats are saying we should sue OPEC for not producing more, but they don't pass anything that would produce more of our own energy in our own country. Do you think OPEC is going to think that is a credible position for the United States Congress to take?
“And that is the position that is in the bill before us today. It is almost laughable that every proposal that we put forward that would increase our output is defeated by Congress. And, yet, they want to sue OPEC for not increasing their supply. Mr. President, you cannot have it both ways. We don't want to drill here, but we want to drill there. It’s the old "you do it, we'll talk about it" mentality that will not work. And what about forming another commission to investigate price gouging?
“Mr. President, we've had commissions on price gouging. They have turned up nothing. This is a bad bill. We should reject it. And we should look for leadership, bipartisan leadership, to solve this problem with our ingenuity.
“Thank you, Mr. President”