Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, I rise to talk about two specific subjects, one of them a very troubling comment picked up by a microphone that was not believed to be live, made by President Obama to President Medvedev of Russia. It is a troubling comment to me because I spent most of the previous year in the Senate as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee working on the New START treaty, which the Senate adopted with 71 favorable votes a year ago, a treaty that is a treaty on offensive missiles, not defensive missiles nor strategic missiles.
It is a treaty that began under Ronald Reagan, was ratified by George H.W. Bush shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was extended under George W. Bush and terminated a couple of years ago and needed to be renewed. It is a treaty that did three things. First of all, it reduced offensive weapons held by the Russians and the Americans; second, gave us unilateral access to Russia and the Russians unilateral access to us to trust but verify the warheads that existed; and third, new identification systems and holographs that made it almost impossible to hide or mimic nuclear warheads. It is a comprehensive treaty that is important to America, important to the free world, and, quite frankly, important to Russia.
I would like to quote from the Washington Post exactly what the President was picked up as having said when he was talking to Mr. Medvedev after their official conversation.
I quote from the Washington Post: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved-- I underline, nobody knows what ``this'' means-- but it's important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev said back: Yeah, I understand.
Then the President said the following: This is my last election. After my election, I [will] have more flexibility.
That flexibility obviously refers back to ``this,'' which was in the first comment.
So as a continuing member of the Foreign Relations Committee, one who is proud of the work we did on the START treaty but one who understands particularly the commitments of the country, I think it important that the President clarify what ``this'' meant and how flexibility would be applied if he were reelected as President of the United States for this reason: In the President's letter to the Senate to endorse the New START treaty and ask for its ratification, he said the following: that he pledged in his message to the Senate on the New START treaty ``to continue development and deployment of all stages of the Phased Adaptive Approach to missile defense in Europe, including qualitative and quantitative improvements to such system.'' That is a unilateral statement.
I met with Vice President Joe Biden in his office outside this Chamber during the debate. Vice President Biden committed the administration in terms of continuing on missile defense. I met with Secretary of State Clinton. I met with Ellen Tauscher, who was one of the chief negotiators and chief operatives, a former Member of the House working for the State Department. There was never any wiggle room nor need for flexibility. The United States was committed to missile defense in Europe, we remain committed to this day, and it is important that the President reaffirm that and it not be in any way confused or blurred by the comments picked up by that microphone. It is too important to the country, it is too important to this body, and it is too important to me for us to be able to trust the words of each other, not to find out sometime later that they want flexibility to possibly move from those words. Nuclear defense clearly is very sensitive with the Russians, and I understand that. If there are negotiations on that, that ought to be in the open, not after we have time for flexibility. It ought to be forthright.
I also would like to add that there is another missile defense issue that looms out there that we have to pay attention to. Israel is surrounded by missiles with warheads to injure the people of that country and take the country down. A missile defense system for Israel would be equally as important as missile defense deployment would be for the Eastern European countries.
So missile defense was a vision of Ronald Reagan's, continued under every President of the United States since Ronald Reagan, and it is important that we remain committed to it. I believe it is particularly important to understand what the President said, particularly on missile defense, what ``this'' meant when he asked for flexibility, because there should be no wiggle room in our desire to protect and defend democracy not only in the United States but around the world.
Madam President real quickly, we talked all week about gas prices, and there has been a lot of demonization from both sides. I am a pretty simple guy. I was a businessman for 33 years, went and got a degree in college in business, studied economics in high school, and learned one principle of free enterprise and competition: prices are determined by supply and demand. If your supply goes down and your demand goes up, your prices go up. On the contrary, if the supply is plentiful and demand goes down, your prices go down. You can blame gas companies, presidents' salaries, anything you want to blame; the fact is, we are talking out of the side of our mouth--and particularly in the administration--when it comes to exploration for natural resources in the United States of America, and only can we become energy independent when we develop all of our resources. I support that. I drive a hybrid car. I am not just somebody who talks about it, I believe it is important. It reduces my consumption, it extends my miles per gallon, and it is better for the environment.
But we have proven through the Solyndra and other cases that some of the alternative energy sources were either not perfected or frankly just don't work. So while we are developing ones that do, we should be robustly exploring in the gulf, in Alaska, in the Midwest, in the Northwest, and offshore, such as my State of Georgia, the resources we know exist to raise the supply of petroleum in the United States and lower the price to the American taxpayer.
All four sources of energy that are safe and reliable should be promoted. That includes nuclear energy. I am very proud and I am thankful to the President that he issued the loan guarantee on the first reactors licensed in this country since 1978. They are in Plant Vogtle in Augusta or Burke County, GA. But his Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted no on that final approval. He was outvoted 4 to 1, but he voted no. That sends a signal that we may talk on one hand about having robust development of all resources, but when it comes to playing our hand on the actual vote, we really don't do it. The same thing is true with the Keystone Pipeline. You can't just approve the pipeline to the south without connecting it to the north because if you do, you don't get the petroleum.
We can blame whomever we want to blame, but the fact is facts are stubborn, and supply and demand is what dictates price. We should robustly be exploring the natural resources of the United States for America to have less dependence on foreign oil and more dependence on our own oil where we know we have resources. We should pay attention to our environment and recognize that no country in the world has done a better job in the modern era since the industrial revolution of cleaning up its environment than the United States of America. No one looks after their environment harder than the United States of America. We owe it to our people to look equally hard at the cost of gasoline, the price of petroleum, and the robust exploration of our own natural resources here at home for less dependency overseas. [Page: S2193] I yield the floor and defer to the Senator from Louisiana, who has a lot of offshore resources of his own.