Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2009

Date: July 31, 2008
Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Chairman, the amendment I am offering tonight provides $400 million towards new construction projects. This money will be used to put American workers, pipe fitters, engineers, construction workers to work and build refineries that produce the specialized types and grades of fuel used by each branch of the service for their equipment. The refineries will be located on existing or former bases under the purview of the Department of Defense, and will represent the first refineries built in the United States since 1976. And the time to do it is now.

The Air Force isn't going to have a fleet of plug-in hybrid fighter jets, and the Navy isn't going to have a solar battleship in the near future. They need fuel, plain and simple.

Investing in critical infrastructure and protecting the Nation are our top responsibilities in the Federal Government. Today I am offering an amendment that provides Federal funds for the construction and design of one refinery for each branch of the military to produce the petroleum products required by that branch, combining these two critical roles for the public good.

Prices are high. So is demand. Let's address both sides of the energy equation, and let's put our Americans back to work to help the military protect the Nation.

We have heard a lot about exploring and drilling for American sources of energy. Hands down, Americans agree on this point. It is an 80 percent issue across the country and, indeed, it is even higher in my district and other districts of north and central Texas. Polls show the vast majority of Americans favor drilling offshore in the ANWR.

The United States Department of Defense is straining under record high prices. In 2007, with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States armed service consumed 16 gallons of fuel per soldier per day, or about $3 million worth of fuel every day. That is a lot of fuel, and that is a lot of opportunity for American energy and American jobs.

But this is not regular gasoline. All military planes, vehicles, generators and heavy equipment in areas of foreign operation use jet petroleum to avoid transporting and carrying different fuel grades and accidentally putting the wrong type of fuel in their equipment.

Right now global refineries are operating at a very tight capacity. This, in turn, limits the quantity of gasoline and other products that they can produce. This squeeze impacts the consumers, domestic refiners and the military as the cost of refining comprises between 10 and 20 percent of the price at the pump. It means the taxpayers are getting hit with higher costs twice, and it also leaves military fuel supplies vulnerable to disruptions from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

And then there's the question of importing refined products. We already heard under the colloquy about how important it is to use an American product, American-made steel. Well, how about we use American-made gasoline? Use the gasoline that is produced here in America.

Domestic refinery production has declined as industry operates with tight profit margins and lower inventories of crude oil to cut gasoline costs, and these constraints mean a greater proportion of gasoline demand has to be met with imported products. We know what that means. We buy it from people who don't like us. We are funding both sides in the war on terror.

Four of five of the top suppliers of military fuel are foreign companies or foreign state-owned entities. This poses a serious threat to our national and our economic security and must be addressed.

Let me stress that 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 increase prices for everyone; would free up commercial refining capacity and ensure that we are not forced to outsource a significant portion of our defense when we buy from foreign refineries.

Military commanders say you can't kick behind without tanker gas, or something like that. The Air Force isn't going to have a fleet of plug-in hybrids, as I already said. Our national defense and our national economic security are too important to risk on shortages of refinery capacities when we are faced with natural disasters.

We have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve. What good is it if there is no strategic way to refine it?

And this amendment would provide the beginning of that strategic way to put the refineries in areas that are already cleared environmentally, already have the security in place, and it makes sense.

We have also heard tonight that we need to pass a clean bill. It is important to get this bill done because our veterans and our military need the monies that will be appropriated in this bill, and I agree with that very much. It is my understanding this bill has been ready to go for 4 or 5 weeks.

I don't know why we have not seen fit to bring it up before tonight. I don't know why we had to bring it up under a modified closed rule. But those are the rules the majority has set. Those are the rules under which we will play.

So I thank the chairman for hearing this amendment. I think it is an important concept that needs to be furthered.

I yield back the balance of my time.