In Speech, Hatch Slams President’s Failed Energy Agenda; Calls on Senate Democrats to Advance Bill to Boost Job Growth in the West

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Citing the Obama Administration’s failed energy agenda, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) called on the Democrat-led Senate to advance the Western Economic Security Today (WEST) Act in a speech on the Senate floor today. The measure, introduced by Hatch and U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), focuses on strengthening the economy and creating jobs in the West.  Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico).

“President Obama’s energy agenda tops the list of pernicious policies that hurt American families, hinder economic growth, and harm businesses, by dramatically raising the costs of everyday life,” said Hatch. “The Administration’s position is clear.  The President wants to drive up the cost of gasoline and drive Americans out of their cars.”

Hatch has long fought to enact common-sense policies that will increase access to American energy and lower prices at the pump. This Congress, Hatch teamed up with Barrasso to introduceВ the WEST Act which incorporates bills that have been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and are awaiting action in the U.S. Senate. The House-passed bills were all featured in theВ Western Caucus Jobs Frontier report jointly issued by the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses last fall.

“The President’s unilateral decision to kill that project [Keystone XL Pipeline] might play well at Midtown Manhattan fundraisers where wealthy elites have the luxury of supporting a radical environmental agenda without worrying about the real world consequences of that agenda for the middle class,” Hatch said.  “But it was bad for jobs, bad for the economy, and bad for American families. President Obama has said that he wants to find an all-of-the-above approach to energy production.  He need look no further than the WEST Act.”

Hatch is the Chairman of the Senate Western Caucus’ Public Lands Subcommittee.

Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor today:

Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the Western Economic Security Today — the WEST Act — which I recently introduced with my good friend and colleague from Wyoming, Senator Barrasso.

This bill is an outgrowth of our work with the Senate Western Caucus and the Congressional Western Caucus.  These groups, which include my good friend from Utah, Congressman Rob Bishop, and Congressman Steve Pearce from New Mexico, are truly leading the way.  We have been doing the hard work of identifying solutions that will promote job creation, boost America’s energy production, and put our nation on better fiscal footing by encouraging economic growth.

We keep hearing from the Democrat leadership that Congress is dysfunctional. That may be. But it is not because of a lack of good ideas.

It is because — in an effort to help the President in his reelection and shield vulnerable Democrats — the decision was made to promote politically motivated show votes rather than sound job-creating legislation.

Americans don’t want higher taxes in the name of redistribution and government-dictated fairness.  They don’t want bureaucrats in Washington figuring out how to spread the wealth around, as then candidate Obama put it in 2008.

What they want is economic opportunity, and the security that comes with it.

They want the freedom and opportunity to pursue new ventures, start new businesses, and save for their retirement and their children’s education.

If the Democratic leadership ever decides to listen to the American people and advance reasonable legislation to grow the economy and create jobs, they could start with the WEST Act.

The WEST Act is a sound and solid bill, one that puts together some of the best ideas identified by the Western Caucuses, and my hope is that it will meet with bipartisan support here in the Senate.

This bill could not come at a better time.В  The proposals in the WEST Act will go a long way toward generating the employment and economic growth that citizens and taxpayers are longing for.

The proposals in the WEST Act should not be controversial here in the Senate.В  The President claimed that his trillion dollar stimulus would create or save millions of American jobs.В  As it turns out, those were hollow promises.

But the WEST Act is the real deal.В  And if the President and his party are serious about stimulating the economy, this legislation is a good place to start.

They are commonsense pro-growth policies, and I am confident that these proposals, if put to a vote of the American people, would pass overwhelmingly.

They certainly would in Utah.

The eight bills that Senator Barrasso and I have included in the WEST Act have all passed the House of Representatives.

They should pass the Senate as well.

The bill has three main objectives.

First, we are going to put America back to work by producing more American energy.  Our bill ends the Obama Administration’s de facto moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in a safe, responsible, and transparent manner.  We set firm timelines for considering permits to drill, and we require the Administration to move forward promptly to conduct offshore lease sales that have been delayed or cancelled in the Gulf and Outer-Continental shelf.

The WEST Act sets a production goal of 3 million barrels of oil per day by 2027, reducing foreign imports by nearly one-third.

And at a time when every job counts, our bill would produce thousands of high-paying jobs.

Second, our bill will help bring down energy prices, making it easier for Americans to drive their cars and heat their homes.  We could produce over 1 million barrels of oil a day with our bill’s elimination of confusion and uncertainty surrounding the EPA’s decision-making process for clean-air permits.

The bill prohibits the EPA administrator from promulgating any regulation that takes into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas in order to address climate change using the Clean Air Act.

And third, our bill will protect agriculture by reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens.  It amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act — or FIFRA — to ensure that National Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System permits are not needed for the application of pesticides that are currently registered and regulated under FIFRA.

This provision of the bill will also ensure that diseases like the West Nile Virus can be managed through mosquito abatement.В  It is very important for communities in Utah to be able to address these issues without constantly seeking approval from federal overlords.

The bill also stops the EPA from imposing more stringent dust standards for one year. Additionally, it would afford states and localities the flexibility to address any rural dust issue before the federal government would have the authority to do so.

For the life of me, I do not understand the Administration’s stance on energy production.

The Department of Energy claims there are more than 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in oil shale in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.В  This is more than the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia.В  If we were able to develop this resource the way we are capable of doing, we could have a major impact on the jobless rate as well as the cost of energy in our country.

Last month, one of the largest oil companies in the world announced a $200 million investment in a commercial demonstration project for oil shale.В  The project will be in my home state using technology developed by a Utah company.

Another major company that has been successfully developing commercial oil shale for more than 80 years is opening offices in Salt Lake City and seeking permits for a very large facility in Utah.

The state of Utah, local governments, and the business community support the development of these resources.В  Yet the President and his administration are working to stop it at all costs.В  The most recent roadblock was the rewriting of the final 2008 three-state programmatic impact statement to cut back by more than 70 percent the federal lands available for oil shale and oil sands development.

Well, I believe strongly that Interior Secretary Salazar has no authority to take that action.

I recently heard from an energy company in Utah that it is easier to do business in Somalia than it is in the United States.

Unfortunately, that is not a surprising sentiment.

But that is what we have come to expect from President Obama.В  He talks a big game about fairness when it comes to raising taxes, but his energy policies are both regressive and elitist.В  In the interest of appealing to the environmental interests of his wealthy supporters, the administration leaves middle class people behind.В  Obstructing domestic energy production prevents the creation of high-paying jobs that provide good wages for families.В  And it fails to bring down the high cost of fuel that hits middle and lower income families the hardest.

In fact, President Obama’s energy agenda tops the list of pernicious policies that hurt American families, hinder economic growth, and harm businesses, by dramatically raising the costs of everyday life.

The Administration’s position is clear.  The President wants to drive up the cost of gasoline and drive Americans out of their cars.

In 2008 when the President still harbored grandiose plans of changing the course of world history, his Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that his goal was to “boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

In the meantime, the President and his party suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2010 elections, and now faced with the prospect of going the way of President Carter this fall, the Administration is trying to walk back this position.

With voters facing $4 a gallon gasoline, Secretary Chu now claims he is doing everything he can to reduce the price of energy.

And the President’s advisors are suggesting that this is just a gotcha quote.

It isn’t.

It represents the real view of the President and those in his bubble.В  The price of gasoline was no big deal to the President prior to being elected to the Senate and the White House.В  His short commute from his Hyde Park house to the University of Chicago might not have even required a car.

His wealthiest supporters, those being appealed to with his anti-energy agenda, do not spend a significant amount of their income on gasoline.

And when Warren Buffett flies in his private jet to meet with the President to discuss plans for raising taxes on small businesses, he is not worried about the cost of the jet fuel.

But for families that are now spending nearly $100 to fill up their cars, the cost of gasoline is a big deal.

Members of the President’s party seem to get this.  Even here in the Senate, we see Democrat support for the President’s decision to hold-up the Keystone Pipeline collapsing.

And for good reason.

The President’s unilateral decision to kill that project might play well at Midtown Manhattan fundraisers where wealthy elites have the luxury of supporting a radical environmental agenda without worrying about the real world consequences of that agenda for the middle class.

But it was bad for jobs, bad for the economy, and bad for American families.

Mr. President, President Obama has said that he wants to find an all-of-the-above approach to energy production.В  He need look no further than the WEST Act.

Thank you.

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