Mr. MORAN. Madam President, as certainly every Kansan and all Americans know, our gas prices are on the rise and the U.S. economy continues to struggle. I believe one of the most important things Congress can do now is to facilitate the production of affordable energy in this country. In Kansas, we have the third highest number of highway miles in any State in the country, so higher fuel prices are particularly difficult for Kansans who drive long distances each day for work and school. When business owners pay more for fuel, they have less to invest in their businesses and fewer resources to use to hire new employees.
In our State, higher fuel prices increase operating costs for farmers and ranchers who produce much of our Nation's food supply. One Kansas farmer feeds 155 people. The global food supply is threatened when food producers have to pay high costs to plant, harvest, and transport their production.
Higher gas prices don't just affect the farmer or rancher filling their equipment; they also affect every American as they shop at their grocery store. While producers have to pay higher fuel costs, so do the folks who transport the goods to market. So that increased cost gets passed on to the consumer. We all are paying more.
For the United States to remain competitive in this global economy, Congress must develop a comprehensive national energy policy. No single form of energy can provide all the answers. High fuel prices and an uncertain energy supply will continue until we take serious steps toward increasing the development of our own natural resources.
Our country has some of the most plentiful, affordable, and reliable energy sources available. Our own Congressional Research Service has reported the United States has greater energy resources than China, Saudi Arabia, and Canada combined. Unfortunately, access to those resources continues to be restricted.
Technological advances have made the exploration, extraction, and transportation of oil and gas safer and more efficient. Yet the Obama administration has repeatedly blocked efforts to expand energy production. In the President's State of the Union Address, he claimed oil and gas production has increased under his leadership. While private lands are being further developed, and energy production is being increased on those private lands, energy production on Federal lands has actually decreased.
According to the Department of the Interior, oil production on Federal property fell by 14 percent and natural gas production fell by 11 percent last year.
The failure to explore and develop our vast natural resources on Federal lands hit an unfortunate milestone last week. Ten years ago, the Senate failed to open a fractional portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for responsible resource development. Those opposed to developing that small portion of that vast area claimed the resources available in ANWR would not reach the market for 10 years. Well, here we are, 10 years later, no closer than we were in 2002 to gaining our energy independence.
American businesses involved in the oil and gas industry can bring these resources to market and send a strong signal to the world that the United States is serious about energy security. Yet rather than allowing these companies to deploy their expertise and increase production, there are those who say oil and gas companies deserve even more taxes--a tax increase. Raising taxes on the very businesses tasked with locating, extracting, and distributing the fuel to power our economy would do nothing to lower costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. In fact, it would do exactly the opposite.
When the Congressional Research Service analyzed President Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget proposal last year to raise taxes on the oil and gas companies, they concluded those efforts would have the effect of ``decreasing exploration, development and production while increasing prices and increasing the nation's foreign oil dependence.'' The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says these taxes would reduce domestic supply and hurt consumers.
To increase domestic production, I have sponsored the 3 D Act, which would require the administration to reverse their cancellation of dozens of oil and gas leases, open areas previously restricted to responsible oil and gas development, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, and streamline the environmental review process that continually ties up worthy projects in costly bureaucracy and litigation.
The administration is also delaying projects that will improve our energy's infrastructure. The President's denial of TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline permit delayed an important project that would create thousands of jobs and bring billions to the U.S. economy. This private investment in energy infrastructure is exactly the type of investment the President should be encouraging. Construction projects create jobs and boost local economies.
For example, back home in Kansas, Clay County is a small, lowly populated county. Their utility sales to TransCanada could quadruple their overall sales and add more than $ 1/2 million to the local economy every year. This would be a significant boost to the county's economic development.
President Obama's own Jobs Council cited the pipeline construction as a way to boost the economy in their year-end report released January of this year, stating: Policies that facilitate safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary to facilitate the delivery of America's fuel and electricity and maintain the reliability of our nation's energy system.
But TransCanada's project has been stalled as the company works to seek a new route through the State of Nebraska, to our north. But instead of putting the entire project on hold, we would be much better off if we would allow construction to begin in areas not subject to this rerouting so jobs could be created and our Nation could have greater access to more reliable energy. S. 2041, which I have sponsored, would do that.
Renewable energy must also play a role in supplying our energy needs as new technologies allow for the increased commercialization of renewable fuels. Kansas is a leader in wind production and second only to Texas in wind resource potential. Innovation in biofuel production has also increased our ability to develop additional energy from renewable sources available in my home State of Kansas.
Nuclear energy is a necessary component that will help us supply our country's future energy needs and allow our country to be less reliant on energy [Page: S2666] from other nations. I will continue to support initiatives to spur growth in the nuclear energy industry, including initiatives to streamline regulatory compliance.
Energy exploration must be accompanied by energy conservation. When Americans drive more efficient vehicles and occupy energy-conserving buildings, they not only consume less energy, they save money. At a time when gas prices continue to climb, we need to be looking for more innovative ways to help consumers save money on energy bills.
Congress must develop a comprehensive national energy policy--a policy based upon the free market principles that say we can find the resources necessary to meet our country's needs. We must develop our domestic sources of oil, natural gas, and coal, encourage the development of renewable energy sources, and promote conservation.
Not only would the development of our Nation's resources reduce our dependence on foreign energy, it would also provide our economy can with a reliable, affordable fuel supply. If future generations of Americans are to experience the quality of life we enjoy today, the time to address our energy needs is now.
Madam President, I yield the floor.