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Washington, D.C. — Today Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo) joined his Republican colleagues in calling for a vote on a comprehensive energy solution. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) adjourned for a 5 week vacation at the beginning of August. Despite this action House Republicans have been on the floor every day calling for a vote. Below is the prepared speech Congressman Hulshof delivered to about 150 tourists who gathered in the House chamber.

Remarks from U.S. Congressman Kenny Hulshof
from the U.S. House Chamber
August 21, 2008

I welcome everyone to Washington, and I thank my friends for organizing this protest. For those who have assembled here on the floor today, I want to make it clear that you are taking part in a protest.

We have gathered here against the wishes of those in control to talk about a subject of which they do not approve. Under any normal definition of the word, that is a protest.

So what are we protesting? We are protesting essentially the same thing that Americans assembled in support of for more than 200 years — the right to have their voices heard by government. That is all we are asking of the majority — let the citizens’ voices be heard and allow a vote on a comprehensive energy package. When viewed this way, what we are doing today is, in a loose sense, related to what happened at the Boston Tea Party.

Just as the Boston Tea Party was the result of years and years of frustration, so, too, is today’s protest. Our effort to see a comprehensive energy solution did not start on August 1; it didn’t start this summer or even this year. In fact, for most of us it started years ago. For example, when I first ran for Congress in 1996, part of my platform was opposition to President Clinton’s veto of legislation that allowed for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR.
At the time, President Clinton said that the benefit of drilling in ANWR was not worth the ecological damage because the oil produced in ANWR would not reach the U.S. consumer for 10 years. When I heard that reasoning in 1995, I thought that statement was short-sighted. Today I think it is foolish because right now we could certainly use the 1.4 million barrels of oil per day that can be extracted from ANWR.

When I came to Congress, I vowed not to make the same mistake. I have consistently supported technologies and energy options that lower the prices we pay today and the prices we will pay tomorrow.

And toward this aim, I have voted at least 12 times to open ANWR to drilling. And in almost every one of those votes, ANWR prevailed and the majority of this House agreed with me, more importantly, they have agreed with you. The will of the American people overwhelmingly supports drilling in ANWR. Since June, more than 1,049 Missourians have contacted me to ask for the opening of ANWR and for lower energy costs. 348 have contacted me asking that we keep ANWR closed. That means that 75 percent of my constituents support drilling in ANWR, and that average follows very close to national averages.

Unfortunately, there has always been a small but determined group here in Washington that cares not for the will of the people but, instead, for the environmentalists and the special interests. These individuals have filibustered any energy legislation that contains ANWR. They have also turned out the lights and turned off the microphones in this House—the House of the People—refusing to allow even one up-or-down vote on ANWR.

I hate to say it, but these individuals are out of touch with the people of this country.

ANWR is not the only location that the will of the American people is being denied. The vast majority of Americans also favor drilling off our shores, known in Washington terms as the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS.

Locked away in off limit areas of the OCS are 83.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Now anytime we hear the word trillion we know that is a big number, but let me put this in perspective. That is enough natural gas to heat every American home for more than 17 years. Or put another way, that amount of natural gas would produce enough fertilizer for 207 years of use by American farmers. I don’t know how many farmers we have in the audience today, but the average Missouri farmer’s fertilizer bill went up 112 percent just last year because of increases in the price of natural gas. So, you can see how important it is to find new sources of natural gas.

This same area could hold as much as 86 billion barrels of oil, according to a recent study by the Department of the Interior. That is more than is in ANWR and more than is located anywhere in this country outside of Alaska. Yet, once again, we in this House are being blocked from even considering, from even investigating, drilling in this area.

I don’t know if many people will believe this, but there are even heavy oil reserves in my home state of Missouri. Now, I don’t think that Jed Clampett is going to be moving to Beverly Hills because of the riches he found in Missouri oil, but there is an estimated 1.4 billion to 1.9 billion barrels of oil in Western Missouri.

Because this oil is economically recoverable at $50 per barrel, it is certainly grabbing the attention of oil companies. In the first four months of this year, 144 applications for oil and gas exploration were filed with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. That is more applications than were filed all of 2007.

But I believe we can get this Missouri oil to the U.S. market more quickly. For this reason, I just today introduced a proposal to expedite the recovery of Missouri oil.

First, we need to know exactly what is under Missouri. To answer that question, I will be working with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to discover what is under Missouri. It is my hope that having a definite answer to that question will bring even more investors to Missouri and, thus, accelerating the time it takes to get all of this oil to our gas pumps.

Second, I plan to work to bring a refinery to Missouri. By doing so, we will decrease the transportation costs of drilling in Missouri, thereby making drilling in Missouri more attractive to investors and drillers.

Finally, I am going to work with the state’s economic development office to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in energy exploration in Missouri.

I hope that these actions will bring more oil to the Missouri and national markets, thereby decreasing the cost of this resource.

I have talked a lot about drilling today, and I know that many drilling opponents will say that drilling will never be able to satisfy all of our energy needs. I agree. Drilling is not the full solution; drilling is not even a majority of the solution. But just as there is not a solution that is exclusive to drilling, there is also not a solution that excludes drilling.

So what are the other parts of this solution?

Before the Speaker started on a mission of national security, otherwise known as a “book tour,” she was fond of saying we should be sending our energy dollars to the Midwest instead of the Middle East.

That is a really good talking point. In fact, I have been saying that same talking point since I came to Congress 12 years ago. So has Chuck Grassley, the good Senator from Iowa, and Senator Bond from Missouri and many others in this chamber who have been pushing ethanol and biodiesel for years now and because of whom we can now start to look to a second generation of biofuels such a cellulosic ethanol produced from wood chips and corn stalks.

Right now corn-based ethanol will provide 587,084 barrels of oil to this nation. As reported in a market study completed by Merrill Lynch, “biofuels have become the single largest contributor to world oil supply growth in recent years.” And by providing this new source of fuel, ethanol is decreasing the price we pay at the pump. One study from Iowa State University found that the use of ethanol has decreased the price we pay at the pump by $0.29 to $0.40 cents per gallon.

So, as you can see, we have many options that we can employ to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and to lower the cost we pay for our energy. And I have focused on four of those options. Other options including nuclear, wind, geothermal and hydropower — all completely worthy of support. But the majority, those in control, have turned out the lights. By doing so they’ve also turned out the lights on the futures for each of this nation’s families.

The majority has done the one thing that we cannot do in the energy debate, they have taken options off the table. We cannot afford to have “off shore” labeled off limits. We cannot afford to be anti-ANWR. We cannot afford to exclude ethanol, and we also cannot afford to have a moratorium on Missouri oil.

I thank the gentleman for the time, and I thank you all for your time.