Floor Speech on Energy Independence and Job Creation

Apr 25, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Energy

Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina: Folks in South Carolina are concerned about where we are with energy in this country. Energy independence is something that's on the minds of folks back home.

You know, I drive a diesel truck, and the gentleman from Ohio was talking about diesel fuel just recently. I was at the fuel pump recently fueling my truck with diesel fuel, and I was paying about $3.85 a gallon. It dawned on me, as I watched the 18-wheelers roll by coming from the pumps where they filled up, that if we were able to really achieve American energy independence and we were able to lower the cost at the pump for America's truckers and all of America's families--but I use trucking as an example. If we could truly lower the cost of diesel fuel for America's truckers by just $1, if we could produce enough American energy resources to lower diesel fuel from that $3.85 a gallon that I was paying down to $2.85 a gallon--those 18-wheelers that were rolling by I believe had 400-gallon diesel tanks.

Think about that, America. Think about if that truck or that trucking company was able to save per fill up $400-$400 per fill-up for that 18-wheeler, and think about the number of trucks you pass on America's interstates and highway systems. If we could save that, think about the trickle-down affect that that would have for consumer products. We're not just talking about gasoline and diesel fuel. The American hydrocarbons that are produced when they're refined, they're refined into a lot of different products. And I would ask folks to research what a barrel of hydrocarbon or fossil fuel, oil, when you put that under extreme pressure, the heat created, how it separates out and all the different products that come from a barrel of oil. It's an amazing component that God has given us.

And so in South Carolina, we understand that the Nation can achieve American energy independence; but we also understand that if we can't have American energy independence, why not an all-American energy strategy where we work with our neighbors to the north, our largest and best trading partner, the Canadians, or we work with the Mexicans and the folks to the south with a trans-boundary agreement; allow that area where the boundary between Mexico and the United States is, that we can drill in that area and we have an agreement for revenue sharing on the oil produced there. But let's go back to our neighbors in the north, our largest and best trading partner. The former speaker of the house from South Carolina, David Wilkins, was Ambassador to Canada under the Bush Administration. I spent a lot of time with Speaker Wilkins, Ambassador Wilkins, and we talked about Canada and we talked about the oil sands. This was before the Keystone XL pipeline.

Let's focus on the Keystone XL pipeline to bring that Canadian oil to American refineries that are sitting there with the capacity to refine that Canadian oil. What do I mean by capacity? It's idle capacity. It's capacity that could be utilized to refine American resources or Canadian resources coming down to those refineries, refining that into the products that we enjoy as America. That's why the Keystone XL pipeline is so important. Let's put Americans to work. We hear a lot about job creation and putting Americans to work. Well, this truly would. Mr. Speaker, this Keystone XL pipeline would put Americans to work in those refineries, refining that oil into all the chemicals and gasoline products and everything that we use out of a barrel of hydrocarbons or a barrel of oil. The Keystone pipeline is something that should happen in this country.

The opponents on the other side say: well, that oil is just going to flow from Canada. It's going to flow through the United States. It's going to go to our refineries. But those contracts have been let, and that oil and those gasoline products are going to be used in other markets. It will not do anything to affect the price at the pump here. That's what the other side says.

Here's a simple economic example: it's supply and demand. Global demand is high right now, and the supply is low. The supply is low for a lot of reasons: the OPEC cartel and other things. Policies, moratoriums, and other things from this Administration keep global supply down. Let's assume that the oil from Canada does flow through the United States, refined at our refineries, and does flow out of this country. So what? That increased supply will meet the increased demand. And by meeting that demand that will drive the price down, not only for Americans, but for everyone across the globe. It's the right thing to do to put Americans to work to refine that oil into those products at American refineries. It's true job creation.

While we're on the subject of job creation, Mr. Chairman, and the gentleman that's heading up the House Energy Action Team, which is focused on an all-American energy strategy and American energy independence, while we're talking about job creation, let's talk about my State of South Carolina. We've been excluded in the next 5-year plan, the plan that would allow offshore drilling off our coast on the Outer Continental Shelf. Right now, folks, the whole Atlantic shelf is off limits to drilling, with the exception of a very proactive State of Virginia, which has been able to include Virginia's offshore area in the next 5-year plan. We'll see if that comes to fruition. But South Carolina is sitting there saying, with a lot of the other Atlantic States; we believe we have some resources off our coast. We believe there's natural gas off the coast of South Carolina. Let's allow South Carolina's offshore area to be included in the next 5-year plan.

What does that mean? Does that mean we're going to rush right out there and punch a hole in the Earth and start producing? Maybe; maybe not. What it does mean is that it allows that exploration. It allows those energy companies to say: You know what? That area is going to be opened up. We haven't explored out there in 30 years. It was 30-year-old technology when we went out there before. Let's go out there with new technology. Let's find out what sort of resources might be off the coast of South Carolina on the Outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic seaboard. Let's go out there. Let's find out what might be there, and let's start producing that.

You know what happens when we do start producing? I just ask you to drive down to Louisiana and get on Highway 90 from Lafayette down to New Iberia and down to Houma and Thibodaux and those areas. You get on that four-lane highway, Mr. Johnson, and you ride down that highway, on both sides of the four-lane highway, business after business after business after business after business--and I could go on and on. These are businesses that aren't out there actually doing the drilling because those lease sales were to ExxonMobil or Halliburton or some of those companies. These are the service companies that are servicing offshore drilling. Think about this for a minute. Think about the guys that are using the barges and the offshore boats that carry the service boats that are taking the drilling mud and the casing and the piping and the diesel fuel for the generators and the food and the personnel and everything else that goes offshore out to the platform. Then think about that: they're companies on shore. They're running trucks up and down the road that need truck repair; they need body repair. We need pipe welders and pipe fitters.

Like I said, business after business after business there in Louisiana is helping the offshore industry. And South Carolina is sitting there going, well, you know what? If we allowed drilling offshore and we allowed this to happen on the Outer Continental Shelf, then maybe those businesses would come to South Carolina--the service boats, the drilling mud, the providers of the onshore pipe fitters and pipe welders. And you know what? Those guys have to eat. And so they fill up the local restaurants and they shop at the local Piggly Wiggly. And guess what? They give to the United Way, and they give to the local church, and it's a trickle-down economy when you've got people working and you've people creating businesses and providing income to an economy.

When we think about an all-American, energy-independent structure, we need to think about all of the jobs that are created through that American energy independence; and it's not just the guys that are doing the offshore drilling, and it's not just the guys that are doing the hydraulic fracturing here. That is a tremendous component, and it's working in Pennsylvania, and should be working in southern New York. It's working in Ohio. It's producing resources.

When we talk about energy, we focus a lot right now on North Dakota. North Dakota, my gosh, it's a microcosm of what we could be in this country if we truly pursued an American energy policy. North Dakota, 3 percent unemployment or less. Some say it's a negative unemployment. I say, when you get off an airplane in North Dakota, they give you a job whether you need one or not. You talk about a lack of housing; they don't have housing for people coming up there to take the jobs. If you need a job in America and you're willing to travel to North Dakota, you can go up and get $70,000 a year driving a water truck. Jobs are created. North Dakota, a microcosm of what we could be in this country if we truly pursued an all-American energy policy, and that includes hydraulic fracturing. That includes drilling on federal land that is currently off-limits to energy exploration, energy production, but it's also off-limits to wind and solar. Federal land that you own--America. The American taxpayers own this federal land, and it ought to be utilized to the maximum benefit for American taxpayers.

Folks, we can reduce our fuel prices at the pump. We can reduce your prices for electricity at home, and that's through an American energy policy that's truly all of the above. And so I appreciate the gentleman from Ohio leading this leadership hour, giving me an opportunity to speak about something that I am very passionate about, and that is an all-American energy policy that produces resources here, lessens our dependence on the Middle East, lessens our dependence on the OPEC cartel, truly trades with our neighbors to the north and the south, and approaches true independence.

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