May 7, 2014 - Issue: Vol. 160, No. 68 — Daily Edition113th Congress (2013 - 2014) - 2nd Session
EXPIRE ACT OF 2014--Motion To Proceed; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 68
(Senate - May 07, 2014)
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[Pages S2763-S2768] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] EXPIRE ACT OF 2014--Motion To Proceed Mr. REID. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to Calendar No. 366, S. 2260. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the motion. The bill clerk read as follows: Motion to proceed to the consideration of Calendar No. 366, S. 2260, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain expiring provisions, and for other purposes. Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time until 3:45 [[Page S2764]] p.m. be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees; that at 3:45 p.m. it be in order for the Republican leader or his designee to offer up to two motions to table either the motion to commit S. 2262 or an amendment pending with respect to that bill; that if more than one motion to table is made, there be 2 minutes equally divided between the votes. Mr. President, before you rule, I am agreeing to this, but I don't want this to set any precedent of any kind, because I personally believe these are out of order. But for purposes of moving through this afternoon, I ask this consent request. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. REID. Mr. President, on the floor is Senator Shaheen from New Hampshire. I have never had a Senator better prepared than she on any issue that we bring up, who is more concerned about her State, and has worked harder on an issue than she has worked on the issue now before this body. It is a shame that it appears my Republican counterpart has peeled off a couple of the cosponsors of this legislation, Republicans who aren't going to vote to finish this bill. What a shame. It happens every time we get to an issue which we are trying to move forward. It is the obstruction we have faced for going on 6 years. It is too bad. But I commend Senator Shaheen for her diligence. And I hope, prior to the final curtain call on Monday, we can work the next few days to try to come up with some way forward. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire. Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I thank the majority leader for his very kind words on my efforts, along with Senator Portman's, on this legislation. I certainly share the hope that we can come to some agreement on amendments that will allow us to move forward on the bill. Can the Presiding Officer tell me the status of the procedure right now? The PRESIDING OFFICER. We are in divided time until 3:45. Mrs. SHAHEEN. So I will have about 10 minutes for remarks. Is that correct? The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority has 24 minutes. Shaheen-Portman Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I came to the floor this afternoon to again talk about the importance of this bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, also known as Shaheen-Portman. This legislation makes sense for all kinds of reasons, but I want to start with the fact that energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest way to address this country's energy needs. The cheapest energy is energy we never have to create. So if we can reduce our energy consumption, we can save money. Not only will this legislation create jobs, reduce pollution, and make our country more energy secure, but it will also save taxpayers billions of dollars a year through energy efficiency. I would point to a study by the American Council for an Energy- Efficient Economy which shows in greater detail what this poster points out: This bill is going to create jobs, reduce pollution, and save taxpayers billions of dollars. The legislation has been endorsed by over 260 businesses, organizations, environmental groups, and labor unions. It has a broad coalition of support. The legislation before us includes not just this bill as Senator Portman and I originally introduced it, but it includes 10 bipartisan amendments which provide even more jobs, even more savings, and even more reduction in pollution. According to the study by experts at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, by 2030 our legislation has the potential to create 192,000 jobs here in America--192,000 domestic jobs--to save consumers and businesses $16 billion a year, and to reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road. We have a poster which lays this out very directly so people can see the difference this legislation would make: By 2030, 192,000 new jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion a year, and decrease carbon pollution by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road. So those are the benefits just by embracing energy efficiency. The legislation does this without any mandates, without increasing the deficit. In fact, all of the authorizations in this bill are offset and we even see a $12 million deficit reduction, according to the Congressional Budget Office. We are going to be able to do all of this without a major government program, without increased government spending, without any mandates. The reason we are going to be able to do it is because there are opportunities that exist across all sectors of our economy to conserve energy and create good-paying, private sector jobs. Shaheen-Portman addresses a number of opportunities to do this by reducing barriers to efficiency in the major energy-consuming sectors of the national economy. First is in the building sector. Buildings in this country consume almost 40 percent of all of our energy use. It also addresses the industrial sector that consumes more energy than any other sector in our domestic economy, and then it addresses the Federal Government. The Federal Government is the biggest user of energy in our country. About 93 percent of that energy is used by the military. This legislation puts in place commonsense policies that deploy more efficient technologies and techniques. It has been endorsed by hundreds and hundreds of business coalitions, by environmental and efficiency groups, by labor unions, and we have seen a number of letters of support just in the last couple of weeks for this legislation. I introduced those into the Record yesterday. One of the reasons we get the number of jobs, the amount of savings and benefits from pollution is because since we first introduced the bill last year we have added 10 bipartisan amendments that make this bill even better. Senator Portman and I have worked closely and continually with Senators from both sides of the aisle as well as stakeholders and industry advocates who want to improve the bill, and we have incorporated their bipartisan, substantive amendments into the text. Those amendments expand sections of the bill that address energy efficiency barriers in buildings, the manufacturing sector, the Federal Government, and also puts in place regulatory relief provisions to maintain the underlying principle of advancing efficiency in the private sector. The bill enjoys even more support from groups such as the Edison Electric Institute, the Business Roundtable, the American Gas Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Painters and Allied Trades, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is unusual to have energy legislation that enjoys such a broad coalition of support from across many sectors. As we heard just now on the floor, there is a difference of opinion about how to move forward on both sides of the aisle. I am hopeful we can come to an agreement, that we can agree there are amendments both sides would like to see added to the bill, so that even though we have 10 more amendments in this legislation than when we first introduced it, there could still be an opportunity, I hope, for some additional amendments to be added. That is what we are working on. I know everybody is acting in good faith to try to get that done. So I hope we can maintain the bipartisan spirit of this bill as Senator Portman and the Senate leadership and I work to see how we can come to an agreement that moves this legislation forward. I know there are others who would like to speak, and I hope to have an opportunity throughout the afternoon to add some more reasons why I think we should support this legislation. I ask unanimous consent that the remaining time during the quorum call be divided equally between both sides. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons). Without objection, it is so ordered. Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. Mr. BEGICH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. BEGICH. Mr. President, I come to speak in support of the Shaheen- Portman bill, otherwise known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. As I like to put it, it [[Page S2765]] saves money and saves energy. Keep it simple. It comes at an important time, and it is no surprise that as someone from Alaska, I care about oil and gas issues, energy issues, energy efficiency. This is a bill that is important to talk about but also hopefully to pass and move to the House to take up. Conservation makes sense. It saves money and makes people more comfortable in their homes and workplaces and also is good for the economy and environment. It is particularly important to Alaska. Alaska's per capita energy costs are the highest in the Nation. We have long and cold winters, limited infrastructure in rural parts of the State, and we spend more on energy than anywhere else. So we have the most to gain from energy efficiency improvements. In Alaska, energy costs affect every aspect of life. Energy costs are driving people away from the traditional homes in rural Alaska. It is getting too expensive to heat even the smallest of homes. The cost of fuel to run your boat or snow machine for subsistence hunting and fishing is sky-high. In Fairbanks, AK, filling your fuel tank to heat your home could easily cost you $1,900, and that may only last half of the winter. Electric heat isn't much better. Right now in Fairbanks electricity costs 19 cents per kilowatt, which is not a good alternative to heat your home. Bundling all the costs of energy together puts a lot of pressure on the pocketbook. That is why I fought to get a permit to restart the Healy coal plant and make sure the existing coal plant at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, is exempt from EPA regulations. We need to stabilize energy costs while making investments in energy efficiency; otherwise, communities such as Fairbanks will become unaffordable to live in. For schools in Alaska, 75 percent of the energy costs goes into space heating. Money that is spent on heating and electricity is money they cannot spend in the classroom, making sure we have the best education for our young people. As an example, the State of Alaska alone spends $62 million a year on energy, one-tenth of the State's operating budget. Our State provides energy to the rest of the Nation. Yet our residents can't afford to live where they want to live or in many cases where their families have lived for generations. Energy efficiency can have an immediate and profound effect on the lives of people in these communities. The Shaheen-Portman bill is deficit neutral. It is estimated that by 2030 it will save consumers $60 billion and create nearly 160,000 jobs, a good sign after this month's jobs report of almost 280,000 jobs added to the private sector and to our economy. I filed an amendment to provide a $5,000 tax credit toward the purchase of energy-efficient home heating and cooling appliances for families living in very high energy consumption States; for example, converting a home from expensive heating fuel to cleaner, more efficient natural gas or clean-burning woodstoves, even replacing appliances with newer and more energy-efficient models to cut back on electric use and lower energy bills. For example, an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator uses 20 percent less energy than the current standard and 40 percent less energy than the standard in 2001. As many of my colleagues have expressed, it is disappointing that this Senate takes so long to deal with a fairly modest bill. Let's be honest. While it is all good policy, this is very modest legislation. Congress has not passed major energy legislation since 2007, and the energy landscape has radically changed. The costs of renewable energy have decreased drastically as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass resources have grown all across this country. A rational energy policy for our Nation includes both renewable and nonrenewable energy resources. Directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing has changed the traditional energy production landscape too. Production is way up. After Saudi Arabia and Russia, the United States is traditionally the third largest producer of crude. The final numbers are not in yet for 2013, but it looks as though we are about to be No. 1 or very close to it. Yet we still rely too much on foreign oil. The United States consumes about 19 billion barrels of oil per day. All told, about 13 million barrels per day of our demand is supplied by U.S. products--crude, natural gas liquids, and ethanol. It still leaves another 5 to 6 million barrels per day from other countries, many of whom don't like us very much, and that is where Alaska comes in. We can play a significant role by providing U.S. production and creating some good jobs too. The potential is huge. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline delivers 550,000 barrels a day, just over 10 percent of the domestic oil production. That is down from a peak of 2 million barrels a day 25 years ago, but there is a lot more oil and gas to go after. Producers of oil and gas create incredibly high-paying jobs. The average sector wage in Alaska is $117,000, and we can produce more jobs. After 20 years of stagnant growth, we started development in the Arctic again with the Chukchi and Beaufort exploration wells in 2012. We are making strides to return in the summer of 2015. Alaska can ensure our energy security and economic prosperity through development of our domestic resources, thereby reducing our reliance on foreign oil. Our picture very clearly shows the volume of capacity in Alaska and where we fit in in the world, and this is just what we know about. If we add Cook Inlet to it--let me give you the sense of the potential in the Arctic. Chukchi has 15.4 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of gas. Beaufort has 8.2 billion barrels of oil and 28 trillion cubic feet of gas. NPR-A has 1 billion barrels of oil. The issue of the NPR-A, which is the National Petroleum Reserve--this area has only had slight exploration over the years, and now we are starting to develop in that area. We have now moved forward on the first well. I was very pleased that one of my first acts, working with the administration, was getting the administration to see the light of day and solving the problem with the first issue of the CD-5. Production at the first well--one well, one development--is at 17,000 barrels a day. The second one is right next door, which is called GMT-1, and will produce another 30,000 or 40,000 barrels of oil a day. And, of course, there is ANWR, which we estimate has around 10-plus billion barrels of oil. Again, Alaska is a storehouse of energy, not only oil and gas, but many others. The point I want to make is that the oil and gas industry--the study that was done in Alaska--can produce 54,000 jobs and has over 50 years worth of production in the Arctic. If you look at it from local and State and government revenues over the 50 years, it is well over $100 billion, plus another $150 billion in payroll. Another issue, which is important to Alaska, and also to this country is the liquefied natural gas export. A project can produce many jobs and create huge economic opportunity throughout this country. We estimate a project that will move gas off the North Slope, which will then be distributed around the world, will be worth about $65 billion in development. There will be an 800-mile pipeline, liquefication plant, and marine terminal. It will be the largest and most expensive energy project in North America. It will create up to 15,000 design and construction jobs, and up to 1,000 jobs during operation. LNG will have an export capacity of 2.5 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas sales to overseas buyers which can total more than $12 billion a year. The steel pipe to construct that 800-mile pipeline, which is 42 inches in diameter--almost an inch thick--is so big that it will take a single pipe mill 2 years to produce that. This will only add to the important role the oil and gas industry plays in the national economy. Nine percent of all the jobs in 2011 came from the oil and gas sector and 37,000 direct jobs were created nationwide. As I said earlier, they are good-paying jobs. I have two or three more points to make before I close. As I talk about oil and gas, it is not only important for Alaska's economy, it is also an important part of the whole energy system in this country. We have a huge amount of it. We are happy the Arctic is moving forward. Again, this project was stalled for many years, but it is now moving in the right direction. [[Page S2766]] The same was true for the NPR-A. It was stalled out for many years, but now it is moving in the right direction. Alaska is unique in many ways. This bill talks about energy conservation and what we can do to preserve the capacity of our energy use. By 2025, Alaska will be at 50 percent renewable energy internal consumption. We embrace conservation everywhere we can. I can tell you from my own experience that not only is my home energy-efficient, but the commercial buildings that I operate are also energy-efficient. We have new boiler systems that are 98 percent more efficient. As a result, we are saving the tenants lots of money every year. We installed new energy-efficient windows, and other elements, which have made those buildings more efficient, thereby saving them money and allowing us to put more money back into the complexes. Even though this is not a comprehensive bill, it is a piece of legislation that gets us to do some energy policy in this country down the road. The Presiding Officer lives on the east coast, and I live in Alaska, so we are far apart by thousands of miles, but we still have the same issues. Consumers want more efficient facilities and more efficient buildings to lower their costs so they can save money and more energy so they can create new development--new economic development. That is what this bill does in many ways. By creating conservation and creating more energy-efficient legislation, such as this, we are creating jobs just by this act. I think it is important that we look at this bill from a broad perspective and do what we can to make ourselves more dependent on our own energy sources, be they oil and gas or energy-efficient renewable energy or energy-efficient projects. The more we are dependent on our own resources and less dependent on foreign oil, the better off we will be from a national security perspective and from an economic perspective. I will leave with one statistic. Because of all the work to become more dependent on our own energy resources and more energy efficient, we are sending $100 billion less overseas to foreign countries for petro oil over this last year. I appreciate having a moment to talk on the floor. I am not only interested in talking about Alaska's oil and gas, but also how we can improve energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy. There is nothing that pits one against the other. It is all about the projects and working together. I thank the Presiding Officer and note the absence of a quorum. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll. The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll. Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, we are here today to discuss the energy efficiency bill and what may or may not be the status on any given amendments. I want to take a few minutes this afternoon to speak about the issue of liquefied natural gas exports. Senator Barrasso has proposed a bill that would provide for fast- track status for DOE licensing to LNG projects to export to members of WTO countries. As we focus on our opportunities that we have when it comes to our natural gas, our LNG, and the opportunities for Federal support for energy projects overseas, I think it is important to recognize there is a little inconsistency going on with this administration slow-walking infrastructure and hydrocarbon development in this country. I will give a couple of examples. The Export-Import Bank has supported a slew of LNG-related transactions over the past couple of decades. These are structured and project-financed transactions, these are loan guarantees, and some are even direct loans. With the assistance of the Ex-Im Bank and my committee staff, the Congressional Research Service has compiled a report on this subject which I would like to reference at this time. I emphasize that this is a list for LNG-related projects only. * * * if not exhaustive of the other kinds of energy-related infrastructure that the Federal Government finances overseas. So what we have here are projects that are LNG-related transactions that have been moved through the Export-Import Bank. Over $350 million in loan guarantees for equipment and services went to Trinidad and Tobago in 1996. In 1997, we saw over $775 million in loan guarantees go to Qatar and Oman for engineering and management services, for cryogenic heat exchanges, for compressors, and for gas turbine drives. In 2000 there was a loan guarantee of over $70 million that went to Malaysia. In 2002 there was a $135 million loan guarantee for equipment and services for Nigeria. Then between 2005 and 2006 we had over $800 million in loan guarantees for liquefaction and facilities-related engineering services to Qatar. In 2008 there was a $400 million direct loan for equipment and services to Peru; then in 2010 $3 billion in direct loan and loan guarantees for equipment and services to Papua New Guinea. In 2012 there was nearly $3 billion in direct loans for engineering services to Australia. There was a large project that included the liquefaction plant, a shipping terminal, and transmission lines. Then just last year there was another $1.8 billion in direct loans to Australia for facilities construction. There have been over a dozen projects, eight countries, and $10 billion in financing. I think it is important to recognize that the Export-Import Bank is one of the few agencies in the Federal Government that actually turns a profit, and my objective in listing these projects is not to oppose the financing--that is not what we are talking about--but, rather, to point out the inconsistency that we have in some policies. Simply put, we are financing LNG export projects overseas because they are a good idea. We like that approach. But we are politicizing the project for their review here at home. If LNG projects can create wealth and can support jobs in Australia and in Qatar, they can and will do the same here in the United States of America. But this administration is stalling on other infrastructure and development initiatives, not just LNG export facilities. We have the Keystone XL Pipeline. It is a great example. Offshore development is yet another example. Another Federal agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, has supported oil and gas projects in other countries. I also reference for my colleagues this afternoon another CRS report that was commissioned by my committee staff. So OPIC--this is not OPEC but OPIC--has provided insurance and financing to companies operating in Indonesia, Guatemala, Egypt, and Botswana. The bigger list includes, back in 2002, $25 million of insurance for a liquefied petroleum gas storage facility in Guatemala. In 2005, we had a $2.5 million insurance for a natural gas pipeline in Benin; $2.5 million in insurance for a gas pipeline in Togo; $45 million in insurance for another pipeline in Ghana; $320 million in insurance for an offshore natural gas pipeline in Israel. Again, I am not saying that financing this is a wrong idea or a bad idea; I am asking the simple question: If this is good enough for helping other countries, why are we not doing it here at home? There is a third Federal agency I wish to briefly mention that has supported energy-related projects overseas. This is the Trade and Development Agency. It funds feasibility studies, pilot projects, technical assistance, reverse trade missions, and various training activities. I reference for my colleagues a third CRS report, again commissioned by my committee staff, that showcases some of these activities. Specifically, on LNG, the Trade and Development Agency funded feasibility studies for: LNG import and power generation in Thailand back in 2004, CNG/LNG distribution in Indonesia in 2005, import terminals in Lithuania and Romania in 2008, floating LNG storage and regasification in Ghana in 2011, and reverse trade missions to Turkey in 2005 and South Africa in 2008 on LNG-related issues. The Trade and Development Agency has also funded energy-related technical related assistance to Brazil, Colombia, Peru, India, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Nigeria. They have funded reverse trade missions with Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Hungary. [[Page S2767]] Again, helping other countries to develop their energy resources while helping American companies find opportunities to generate jobs here in the United States is a worthwhile policy as well. It is a worthwhile policy abroad and a worthwhile policy at home. I know my colleague from South Dakota wants to say a few words this afternoon. I yield the floor, and I thank my colleagues for their attention. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota. Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, in a moment I intend to propound a unanimous consent request that it be in order for me to offer my amendment No. 3002 to S. 2262, but I will speak for just a moment if I might about it. I think it is unfortunate that we are here in the Senate with Senate Democrats continuing to block Republican amendments that would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, stop the administration's war on affordable energy, and expand liquid natural gas exports to our allies overseas. My amendment No. 3002 is on the list of commonsense amendments that should be voted on as part of the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill. As with almost all of the President's energy policies, the EPA's anticipated ground level ozone regulations would do serious damage to our economy and to working Americans. In fact, this regulation is expected to be the most expensive in the EPA's history. In 2010 the EPA proposed lowering the permitted ground level ozone levels from 75 parts per billion to 60 to 70 parts per billion. The energy industry estimate suggests that lowering the ground level ozone concentration to 60 parts per billion would cost businesses more than $1 trillion a year between 2020 and 2030--$1 trillion a year. Job losses as a result of this measure would total a staggering $7.3 million by the year 2020, devastating entire industries, especially U.S. manufacturing industries. Even by the EPA's own estimates--this is the EPA's own estimate--this regulation could cost up to $90 billion per year--far outpacing the cost of any EPA regulations we have ever seen before. My own State of South Dakota would lose tens of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, natural resources, mining, and construction. In fact, the cost of this regulation is so great that when the EPA first proposed lower levels in 2010, the White House delayed the regulation until after the President's reelection. My amendment No. 3002 would stop the administration's upcoming proposal on ground level ozone which is anticipated to be proposed and put out by December of this year. It is a very straightforward amendment. First, it would require the EPA to consider the cost and feasibility of new ozone regulations. It might surprise many Americans to know that the EPA isn't even allowed to consider costs when setting these new regulations. My amendment would fix that. Additionally, my amendment would force the EPA to focus on the worst areas for smog before dramatically expanding this regulation to the rest of the country. There are 221 counties across 27 States in this country that don't meet the current standard of 75 parts per billion. This chart shows the areas of the country and, as we can see, they are heavily populated, more urban areas of the country. It makes sense to me that we ought to focus on these urban areas before expanding ozone regulations to areas such as western South Dakota where we clearly don't have a smog problem. Under my amendment, 85 percent of these counties would have to achieve full compliance with the existing standard before the EPA could move forward with a lower level that dramatically expands the reach of ozone regulations. So this is what it looks like today. These are the 200 some counties that are not in compliance, and my amendment would require 85 percent of those to be in compliance before we could expand the map to where it would look like this, referring to my chart. This is what the proposal would do. Now, look at how much of the United States is covered by that expanded map. The provision in the Clean Air Act was enacted in the 1970s to address smog in downtown L.A., not background ozone levels in western South Dakota. We should continue to focus on the worst areas for ground level ozone before dramatically expanding those regulations to rural areas of the country. I hope the majority will stop blocking votes on this and other job- creating amendments that are offered by Republican Members. Senator Reid has blocked all but nine rollcall votes on Republican amendments since last July. That is one a month. One Republican amendment, on average, a month has been voted on here in the Senate over the last nine months. By contrast, the House Democrats--the minority in the House--have gotten votes on 125 amendments over the same period--12 times the number of amendments that have been allowed Republicans here in the Senate. A number of my colleagues have been to the floor, and we heard from the Senator from Alaska, Ms. Murkowski. Senator Barrasso has an LNG export amendment that I think is very relevant to this debate and very important to this country to both our energy security and national security interests. I am going to continue to ask that the majority provide a chance for Republicans to participate in this debate by allowing a vote on my amendment and the many others that are pertinent to the economy of this country, to creating jobs in this country, to providing energy independence for this country, to providing energy security for this country, and to making sure we don't get crazy regulations that subject areas of western South Dakota to smog regulations that were designed for downtown L.A. That is a fairly straightforward, simple, commonsense suggestion, and it is what my amendment would accomplish. Unanimous Consent Request--S. 2262 So I see we have a Democratic Senator on the floor who would, I expect, object to this request. I ask unanimous consent that it be in order for me to offer my amendment No. 3002 to S. 2262. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Mr. DURBIN. I object. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard. Mr. THUNE. Thank you, Mr. President. I regret that. I think it is unfortunate. I know there are many others of my colleagues on this side who have amendments they would like to have votes on and to have an opportunity to debate. It is the first time we have debated an energy bill since 2007. It is of fundamental importance to this country on so many levels. Mr. President, I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wyoming. Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, how much time do we have remaining? The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is 1\1/2\ minutes remaining. Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, this week members of both parties have offered a number of energy-related amendments to the pending bill. The minority leader has even said he is willing to limit the number of amendments to five--five energy-related amendments--and the majority leader continues to say no. I am not sure what the majority leader is afraid of in terms of allowing people to vote. People come to the Senate and they are expected to speak up and tell people their positions on various issues. One of the amendments I had hoped to offer today expedites liquefied natural gas exports. The magazine The Economist recently published an article with the headline: ``The petro-state of America: The energy boom is good for America and the world. It would be nice if Barack Obama helped a bit.'' The article explains that the process for obtaining permits to export liquefied natural gas from the United States is insanely slow. This isn't an exaggeration. In over 3\1/2\ years, the administration has approved only seven applications to export LNG. The administration is sitting on 24 pending applications. Fourteen have been pending for more than a year, and some have been pending for more than 2 years. These administration delays are unacceptable. The excuses have run out. We have introduced legislation. LNG exports are a critical component of stopping Russian aggression against our key allies and strategic partners. Nine of our NATO allies import 40 percent or more of their natural gas from [[Page S2768]] Russia. Four of our NATO allies import 100 percent of their natural gas from Russia. These are our allies. Yet they are heavily dependent on Russia for their energy. LNG exports would help our NATO allies as well as our strategic partners and allow them to free themselves from Russian energy. That is why our NATO allies are calling on us--on Congress--and the United States to expedite these LNG exports. These will give our allies an alternative supplier of natural gas and enable them to resist Russia's aggression. It is going to be an added benefit for our country in terms of creating thousands of good-paying jobs here in the United States. As the Economist explained, LNG exports ``could generate tankerloads of cash'' for America. The exports will create jobs in gasfields in Wyoming, steel mills in the Midwest, and at our Nation's ports. I thank the Presiding Officer. I yield the floor. ____________________