February 2, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 19 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION BILL; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 19
(Senate - February 02, 2016)
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[Pages S457-S459] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] ENERGY POLICY MODERNIZATION BILL Mr. THUNE. Madam President, one of the things the Republicans were determined to do when we took the majority in the Senate last January was to get the Senate working again for American families. Under Democratic control, the Senate had basically ground to a halt. The Democratic leadership spent its time pushing partisan show votes instead of putting in any real work on the challenges that are facing our Nation. Republicans were committed to changing that. Since we took the majority last January, we have worked hard to once again make the Senate a place for serious debate and serious legislation. We have succeeded. Last year we passed a number of significant bipartisan bills, including a [[Page S458]] major reform of No Child Left Behind and a multiyear transportation bill that will strengthen our infrastructure and put Americans to work. This week we are beginning consideration of a bipartisan energy bill to modernize our Nation's energy policies for the 21st century. This bill is the product of months of work by Republican and Democratic Senators and staffers on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senators held four full committee hearings and spent countless hours hammering out the legislation that is before us today. This bill is a great example of the kind of substantive, bipartisan legislation we can produce when the Senate is working the way it is supposed to work. Among many other things, this bill will streamline the application process to make it easier for American companies to export liquefied natural gas. The natural gas industry in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, and our economy will benefit tremendously when U.S. companies start exporting American liquefied natural gas this year. Liquefied natural gas exports from the United States will also strengthen our allies in Europe by allowing them to rely on the United States for their import needs instead of relying on aggressive nations like Russia. I have also submitted several amendments to this bill, including an amendment to streamline the permitting process for wind development. American wind developers cite permitting delays as one of the chief obstacles to development of this clean energy source. My amendment will remove this roadblock and allow wind generation and the jobs that it creates to move forward more quickly. I have also submitted an amendment that would examine whether hydroelectric dams in places like the Missouri River in my home State of South Dakota could be paired with future hydrokinetic generation to better harness the great energy potential of our rivers. I have submitted an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from moving ahead with a lower ground-level ozone standard until 85 percent of the U.S. counties that are not yet able to meet the old smog standard are able to meet the old requirements. We should prioritize the worst cases of smog in America before imposing significant economic burdens or limiting energy generation in other areas. One thing Republicans always say when we talk about energy is that we need an ``all of the above'' energy policy. What do we mean by that? We mean that we need to focus on developing all of our Nation's energy resources, from renewable fuels, such as wind and solar, to traditional sources of energy, such as oil and natural gas. That is the only way to make sure Americans have access to a stable, reliable energy supply and to keep our energy sector thriving. The bill we are considering today is an ``all of the above'' energy bill. It invests in a wide range of clean energies, from nuclear, to hydroelectric, to geothermal. It supports traditional sources of energy. It modernizes our Nation's electrical grid. It promotes energy efficiency. It encourages conservation. That is the kind of energy policy we need to take our energy sector into the 21st century. Unfortunately, the President has repeatedly blocked domestic energy development and the jobs it would create. He rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline--a project that his own State Department found would have virtually no impact on the environment and that would have supported 42,000 jobs during construction. He has blocked attempts to tap our vast domestic oil reserves in Alaska. His EPA has imposed a steady stream of burdensome regulations that are making it more expensive to produce American energy. The President's national energy tax will drive up energy bills for poor and middle-class families and reduce our Nation's energy security, while doing very little to help our environment. Similarly, the President's waters of the United States rule will place heavy regulatory burdens on farmers, ranches, homeowners, and small businesses across the country. President Obama might like to think that the United States can rely on a few boutique renewable energies, but the truth is that our Nation is simply not there yet. Efforts to impede other, more traditional and reliable types of energy production simply punish American families who then face soaring energy prices and fewer jobs in the energy sector. Robust domestic energy production coupled with commonsense energy efficiency measures will create jobs, enhance the reliability of our energy supply, spur economic development, and help keep energy costs low. Those are the kinds of energy policies that this bill supports. Last Friday we learned that the economy grew at a rate of seven- tenths of 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015. Needless to say, that is not where we need to be in terms of economic growth. The recession may have technically ended 6\1/2\ years ago, but our economy has never fully rebounded. Economic growth has been persistently weak during the Obama recovery, and there are no signs of substantial improvement in the near future. In historical terms, the Obama recovery is the weakest economic recovery since the Eisenhower administration. If you rank the 66 years since 1950 in terms of economic growth, the Obama years rank 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 54th, 55th, and 66th. Let me repeat that. If you rank the 66 years since 1950 in terms of economic growth, the Obama years rank 45th, 46th, 47th, 48th, 54th, 55th, and 66th--or dead last. It is no wonder the American people are tired of living in the Obama economy. Given this weak economic growth, removing impediments to energy development is more important than ever. A thriving energy sector can help us overcome the weakness of the Obama recovery and usher in a new era of stronger economic growth. According to former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the difference between a 2.5-percent growth rate and a 3.5-percent growth rate would have a major impact on the quality of life for low- and middle-income families. If our economy grew at just 1 percentage point faster per year, we would have 2\1/2\ million more jobs and average incomes would be nearly $9,000 higher--$9,000 higher. That is the difference between owning your own home and renting one. It is the difference between being able to send your kids to college and forcing them to go deeply into debt to pay for their education. It is the difference between a secure retirement and being forced to work well into old age. Additionally, an additional percentage point in economic growth will reduce our annual deficits by $300 billion. That in turn would further improve the health of our economy. The American people have suffered long enough in the Obama economy. They are ready for a new era of strong economic growth; an era built upon free enterprise, not big government programs; an era that focuses on growth, opportunity, and income mobility, not redistribution of shrinking economic resources; an era that rewards innovators and entrepreneurs rather than punishes them. Over the next year, Americans who are ready for a change from Obama's failed policies will hear from congressional Republicans who are increasingly focused on getting our economy working again. Reforming our Tax Code and reining in regulations, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, strengthening our international security by rebuilding our military, and reforming outdated poverty programs will be the foundation of our agenda for a more prosperous future. Americans will also continue to hear from a Republican-led Senate that it is focused on moving bipartisan bills to improve economic security for American families. The bill before us today is one of those bills. It will help consumers use less energy and free up energy producers to develop resources and create jobs. I am glad the Senate is focused on an ``all of the above'' energy approach that supports energy growth and development in this country. I thank Senator Murkowski for her leadership and work on this bill. I look forward to working on more bills here in the Senate that will strengthen economic security for American families. That is what we should be about--better, more robust growth in the American economy that creates better paying jobs for American workers and families. I yield the floor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts is recognized. [[Page S459]] Mr. MARKEY. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 10 minutes. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Hearing none, it is so ordered. ____________________