Mr. HOEVEN. Mr. President, I am here to offer a substitute amendment to the Menendez act, which is currently under consideration on the Senate floor. That is S. 2204. The substitute amendment I would like to offer is legislation I have authored along with Senator Lugar and also Senator Vitter. It is legislation that would approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline and authorize that that construction proceed. That authority is provided to Congress under the commerce clause of the Constitution. With gas prices now close to $4--and going higher--Congress needs to act.
President Obama has turned down the pipeline. He continues to block the Keystone XL Pipeline, and it is time for Congress to act on behalf of the American consumer. Every single American, every hard-working American, is feeling this pain at the pump.
The Keystone XL Pipeline would help us produce more energy supply for our country to help reduce the price of gasoline at the pump. It will help us create more jobs in this country. Close to 13 million Americans are now unemployed. It would help put more of those Americans back to work. Of course, it would help reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East.
The first chart I have in the Chamber shows what is happening with gasoline prices in the United States. This is over the last 3-year period. This shows the price of gasoline was about $1.87 a gallon when President Obama took office 3 years ago. Today, the national average, I believe stated by AAA, is on the order of $3.91. So the price of gasoline during the Obama administration's tenure has more than doubled. It has more than doubled.
I think there is something like 8 or 9 States now where the average price of a gallon of gasoline is over $4. In places such as Chicago--the President's hometown--I believe the average price is on the order of $4.68. If we go right down to the corner here, right near the Capitol, I filled my car the other day. It cost me more than $100 to fill the tank, and I think the price was $4.39 a gallon.
So what is the solution offered in the Menendez legislation? What is the solution proposed by the Obama administration? What is the solution proposed in this bill we are considering right now on the Senate floor? What that bill would do is raise taxes on energy companies. It would raise taxes on energy companies. Let's think about this. We are going to raise taxes on these energy companies, so we are going to increase their costs. When we add taxes, that means it not only raises their costs, which will create even higher costs at the pump for American consumers, but it also tends to restrict supply. If we want less of something, and if we want it to cost more, what do we do? We tax it. So this legislation does exactly the opposite of what will help the American consumers with the price of gasoline at the pump.
Instead, we need to increase supply. By providing more supply, we help create downward pressure on gasoline prices. That helps our hard-working Americans not only today but tomorrow as well. Let's talk about that.
Why are gas prices high? It is supply and demand. This is economics. This is about supply and demand. If we increase supply, we put downward pressure on prices. If we increase demand, we put upward pressure on prices. Global demand for oil is growing. We know that. Global demand is growing. So we need to increase the supply; otherwise, that growing demand continues to push gasoline prices higher.
As shown on this chart, here is the amount of crude oil we produce in the United States, along with our good friends in Canada today. That is shown in the first bar on this chart. We can see, it is just below 10 million barrels a day. That is where we are now. With the current policies the administration has in place, we will actually produce less supply in the future--less supply in the future.
Think about that. If gasoline prices are a function of supply and demand, it is not only the supply and demand of today, it is what people anticipate the supply and demand will be in the future. If we have growing global demand--which we know we have--and we have an administration that is constricting supply, then not only do we have an issue in terms of present supply and demand, but we have people going: Look, there is going to be less supply. We know there is going to be growing demand. That puts upward pressure on prices.
So the actions of the administration have a direct impact, a direct correlation with the price of gasoline at the pump. As I showed on the previous chart, under this administration, gas prices have more than doubled. So what we need to do is, we need to produce ``all of the above.'' We need to produce ``all of the above.'' Note that I said ``produce'' it. I do not mean talk about it. I do not mean block it when it comes to building needed infrastructure such as the Keystone XL Pipeline or preventing us from drilling offshore or preventing us from drilling onshore or having the redtape that prevents us from getting permits and the regulatory burden that prevents us from producing more energy. I mean actually doing it--not blocking it, doing it.
This third bar on the chart shows that if we just worked to produce more oil and gas in the United States and Canada, we can produce more than we consume within 15 years. That is just oil and gas. That is not even ``all of the above.'' That does not count producing all the natural gas we have in this country and in Canada or biofuels or other sources. That is just oil and gas if we start working to produce it rather than have the administration continue to block it.
Of course, that is what I am talking about with the Keystone XL Pipeline. The President has studied the Keystone Pipeline, the administration has studied it, the State Department has studied it, the EPA has studied it for 3 1/2 years. Now the Department of Energy has come out and said--they did a study in June of last year--in their study, they said: We need the crude in the United States. We will use the crude in the United States, and it will lower gas prices on the east coast, on the gulf coast, and in the Midwest. That is Secretary Chu, the Secretary of Energy--his Department of Energy produced the report, and that is what it said.
After 3 1/2 years, the President says: That is not long enough. We need more time. The administration needs more time to make a decision. After his own State Department said they would have a decision done before the end of the year--before the end of the year--the President says: No, we need more time, maybe sometime after the election--maybe. We need more time to make the decision.
So Congress said: OK. We will help out. You have expressed concern about the routing of the pipeline through Nebraska. We will pass legislation to kind of give you support and encouragement that says they can go ahead and build the pipeline, and we will give them whatever time they need to reroute Nebraska so there is no issue because that is what you have identified as the problem.
We passed that legislation as part of the payroll tax cut extension. The President denied it, turned it down, blocked it, and he continues to block the Keystone XL Pipeline today.
A couple weeks ago, bipartisan legislation--the very same legislation I am offering in this substitute amendment--was brought to the Senate floor. Bipartisan legislation. We had 11 Democrats who voted with us. Fifty-six [Page: S2143] votes, well over a majority--56 votes. The reason we did not get 60 votes on the legislation is because that day the President was calling Members of this body, this Senate body, to get them to vote no. So we got 56 votes instead of the 60 we needed.
The very next week--after calling Members of the Senate to get them to vote down this legislation that would authorize moving forward so we could actually bring oil in from Canada, bring more oil from my home State of North Dakota to refineries to help out Americans at the pump--the very next week, after blocking the pipeline, after calling Members of the Senate to get them to vote against it, the President goes to Cushing, OK, and takes credit for this small portion, the southern leg of the pipeline project, saying that somehow he is expediting it.
Interestingly enough, that is the only portion of the pipeline that does not require his approval. But after blocking it, he goes down and takes credit for somehow expediting the portion that was going to be built anyway, while he continues to block the two-thirds that actually brings us more oil.
So go back to what I said just a minute ago. We need more supply. If the policy of this country is to say all of the above, but then go about blocking our ability to produce more supply, guess what happens. Prices go up. Because what counts are the actions.
So the market takes that into account and says: Look, if supply is going to be constrained, then we anticipate higher prices in the future with growing global demand. That is what we see: prices rising at the pump.
Look, we can have energy security in this country. We need to increase our oil production in this country and work with our neighbor to the north, Canada, rather than have them send their oil to China, which is what will happen if we cannot build these pipelines. We need to increase our use of natural gas. We need to do ``all of the above,'' increase renewable fuels, with a market-based approach--a market-based approach--and we need to use technology to drive energy production in this country, and working with Canada, with better environmental stewardship.
What I mean by that, in Canada, oil is produced in the oil sands with in situ, which is the new technique. It is similar to drilling, rather than the old methods--more energy, better environmental stewardship.
Look, we can create a more secure energy future for our country, we can create jobs in America, and we can reduce the price of gasoline at the pump for hard-working Americans. But we need to take commonsense steps, and we need to take them now to produce more oil and gas, to produce more energy of all kinds in this country. We are asking for the President to work with us to do just that.
Mr. President, at this point, I have a parliamentary inquiry: When the Senate resumes consideration of the pending energy tax bill, would it be in order for me to offer my amendment, a substitute amendment, which would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline to help Americans at the pump with the price of gasoline?