REPUBLICAN ENERGY POLICY -- (House of Representatives - July 29, 2008)
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Mr. BURGESS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
You know, it seems like, this late at night, all that's left are gentlemen from Texas, but I'm happy to be here as part of this august group.
The gentleman from Georgia mentioned that we're about to go home on a 5-week vacation. You know, I'd like to say it has been a tough summer and that we've been working away on our appropriations bills, but the fact is we'll have our very first appropriations bill on the floor of the House tomorrow, the Military Construction bill. I'm glad to see it. I'm glad we're going to have it, but we're actually not going to have an open amendment process, and part of the reason is that the Democratic leadership is afraid to have the open amendment process for fear that we'll actually bring up something that might expand the availability of energy in this country.
So, Mr. Speaker, there are not a lot of bright spots out there when it comes to energy. We've got record high prices. We've got alternative energy sources that aren't quite ready for prime time. Our refining capacity is limited because we haven't built a refinery since 1976. Supplies are tight, and there's an enormous demand. It paints a fairly grim picture, but dwelling on the negative is not the American way. Exploring the possibilities and capitalizing on realities, that's the American way.
So, today, as we are in a very tough energy environment, let's act like Americans. Let's make lemonade out of lemons. We can start by seizing the opportunity to find and produce homemade American energy. We've heard a lot about exploring and drilling for American sources of energy hands down. Hands down, Americans agree on this point. I did two town halls over the weekend--one in Keller, Texas and one in Frisco, Texas. There was unanimous opinion that we need to be producing more American energy domestically.
Polls show that the vast majority of Americans favor offshore drilling for oil and natural gas and, in fact, even in ANWR. In my districts back in Tarrant, Denton and Cooke Counties, the numbers are sky high. Without question, if we want to produce American energy, we should drill domestically.
You know, we need to refine domestically also, and we can start by providing our Nation's largest energy consumer, the military, with the infrastructure to do just that. As one of the Nation's largest energy consumers, the United States Department of Defense is straining under record high prices. We heard Mr. Shimkus from Illinois address this just a moment ago.
In 2007, with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Armed Services consumed 16 gallons of fuel per soldier per day, about $3 million worth of fuel. That's a lot of gas, but it's not just regular gasoline. All military planes, vehicles and heavy equipment use avgas, or jet petroleum, to avoid carrying different fuel grades or to avoid accidentally putting the wrong kind of fuel in the equipment. It's a specialized fuel that's produced in the same refineries that produce fuel for commercial sale.
Right now, global refineries are operating at very tight capacity. This, in turn, limits the quantities of gasoline and other products that they can produce. The squeeze impacts the consumers, and it impacts the military as the cost of refining compromises 10 to 20 percent of the price we pay at the pump. It means taxpayers are hit with higher costs twice, and it also leaves supplies vulnerable to disruptions ranging from terrorist attacks to political unrest to--oh, by the way, did we mention it's hurricane season?
Then there's the question of importing refined products rather than producing them here in America. Because domestic refining capacity has declined as industry operates with lower inventories of crude oil and of gasoline in order to cut their costs, these constraints mean a greater proportion of gasoline demand has to be met with imported goods, with imported goods. We hear it over and over again. We're buying the supplies from people who in the world don't exactly like us. We are funding both sides on the war on terror.
Four out of five of the top suppliers for military fuel are, in fact, foreign suppliers. This poses a serious threat to our national economy and to our national security, and it has to be stopped. Investing in critical infrastructure and protecting the Nation are some of the Federal Government's top responsibilities.
So, tomorrow, on the Military Construction appropriations bill--and we will finally be hearing our first Appropriations bill here on the House floor--I plan to offer an amendment, the Joint Defense Energy Production amendment. It provides Federal funding for the construction and for the design of one refinery for each branch of the military, combining these two critical roles for the public good.
Prices are high and so is demand. Let's try to solve both sides of the energy equation. The amendment would provide $400 million to build refineries that would produce the specialized types and grades of fuel that are used by each branch of the Service for their equipment. The refineries will be located on existing or on former bases under the control of the Department of Defense, and they will represent the first refineries built in the United States of America in 31 years.
Again, let me stress this is a win-win for America. These military-specific refineries could produce and protect specialized military fuels from capacity limitations that squeeze supply and that increase prices for almost everyone. They would free up commercial refining capacity and would ensure that we're not forced to outsource a significant portion of our refining needs to foreign countries. Additionally, they would help ensure a supply chain that would help protect from supply chain disruptions whether from manmade or from natural
disasters like those we've experienced in the past.
There's a military saying: Bullets don't fly without supply. The Air Force is not going to have a fleet of plug-in hybrid fighter jets, and our Navy is not going to be relying on a solar-powered, wind-blown vessel. They need a stable and secure fuel supply, plain and simple. Our national defense and our economic security are simply too important to risk on shortages of refinery capacity or on natural disasters. We have the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We have a strategic oil supply, but what good is that if there is no way to strategically refine that supply?
So, tomorrow, I hope other Members will join me in supporting the Joint Defense Energy Production amendment that I plan on offering on the Military Construction appropriations bill tomorrow. It's high time we got to our appropriations bills, and it's highly appropriate that, particularly on the Military Construction bill, we offer amendments to increase the energy supply for our Nation's military.
I'll yield back to the gentleman from Texas, and I appreciate the time.
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