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.

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  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.

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