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VIDEO: Senator Lankford Advocates For Pro-Growth, Fact-Based Energy Policy On Senate Floor

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate about domestic energy production, the Keystone Pipeline decision delay, and yesterday’s EPA Climate Action Plan announcement.

Below is the transcript from the speech:

I come from an energy state, Oklahoma. We truly do all of the above. We do coal, oil, gas, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal. We’re just missing nuclear. Quite frankly, we probably have nuclear if the regulations weren’t so incredibly high and so incredibly expensive to do. We want, in my state and in my region diverse, inexpensive, healthy, plentiful, reliable energy. We don’t think that should be such a high goal that it’s only limited to Oklahoma. Quite frankly, I think just about every area of the country wants that. That used to be a bipartisan goal, in fact. It used to be that Democrats supported also all of the above energy, but at some point they shifted to the ways of Solyndra and determined if you’re going to be in that party you have to submit to a certain environmental orthodox.

It makes it tough to have a discussion about real energy based on facts. It seems to be another day for the E.P.A. to release massive regulations. People wonder why food costs more, products cost more and why energy costs more. I’ll tell you why, this ever growing regulation on the basic cost of energy. It changes the cost of everything. E.P.A. stated they’re not responsible for determining the benefits of climate change, just that it would happen as they put out their new clean power plan, they said they didn’t have to list actually or abide by the costs but they did determine the cost anyway. $8.4 billion a year to the American consumer. $8.4 billion. On top of the energy regulations that already exist. They also said they weren’t responsible for having to be able to run through the actual effects on climate change. 

They just said it’s happening and so we need to do something. In fact, it’s been interesting for me to hear so many of my colleagues in the past 24 hours say Republicans, pull your plan out. We’re doing something. You need to put out a plan and show you’re doing something as well. Well, we ran the numbers on it and tried to evaluate through the E.P.A. models and be able to look for somewhere where it would note someone who ran the E.P.A. model of how much change there would be in the environment if this plan is fully implemented. The model came back that it would slow the rise of the sea .3 mill meters once this is fully implemented. .3 millimeters of sea change difference. To give you an example, the head of this pin is .7 millimeters. So half the head of this pin is what we’re going to save in sea level change if we fully implement this plan.

This thing seems to be about fear. Severe weather, imminent danger. If you don’t change everything in your life to the way that we think you should live your life the whole Earth is going to fall into chaos and ruin. We need to have an energy debate on this floor. I agree. We need to have a climate debate on this floor but it doesn’t need to be out of fear. It needs to be out of facts. What really needs to happen? Let’s start with basic questions about energy policy and about energy future. What will it take to have reliable energy for the United States during a summer heat wave so we don’t have rolling blackouts and senior adults suffer from heat stroke during an August afternoon? What will it take to protect our grid so that doesn’t occur? What will it take to have reliable energy for the hardest nights of winter to make sure that Americans are protected in those coldest nights so their power doesn’t go out because of rolling blackouts? What energy sources are plentiful in the United States and what energy sources leave us vulnerable to international pressures?

What energy sources do we have that we should export to gain economic benefit? What energy sources are economical so we can attract manufacturing to the United States to create more jobs for Americans? And how can we assure that the energy we use has the least amount of health risk so that we can have a healthy nation and healthy world? Even, how about this question: What’s the best way to keep energy diversity and distribution to protect our economy from rapid price swings or localized acts of terrorism? That’s how you begin to set an energy policy, is to ask some general questions and then start answering some of those and say what’s the best way to accomplish that? But instead our energy policy is being run by environmental policy and about fear of what could happen possibly in the future or protecting ourselves from .3 millimeters of sea rise. 

Over the past ten years CO2 emissions have drastically reduced. Since 2005, CO2 emissions from electric generation reduced by 364 million metric tons. It’s a 2,051 metric tons. The goal, the future goal, by the way, in this new clean power plan is to have 788 metric tons of reduction, from 2005. But we’re already 364 metric tons there. Because there’s already been a pretty dramatic reduction, much of that, by the way, from a very slow economy. So, 424 more metric tons by 2030. That would mean even with an ever increasing population, increasing energy needs and hopefully recovering economy, we need to cut much more. Let me try to set this in context. I’m going to throw some numbers around for a while but we as a body, I think we can handle it. Let me give you some perspective on where things are going with this. The last time the U.S. emitted this target amount for CO2 that has now been laid out there, the last time we emitted that amount of CO2 was 1985 with 237 million people.

If you want a little bit of throwback, that is when Duran Duran and Huey Lewis had all the big hits. That is when there were no clouds and computing had not been discussed. We had 237 million people at the time. The target is to get to that same amount of CO2 usage but we’ll have 363 million people at the time. That is the estimate from the Census Bureau. So the plan is to have 126 million more people emit less carbon and use less electricity. It sounds like an interesting plan. If you want the real number by percentage, let me break that down for you. In 1985 every million people used 6.86 metric tons of CO2. 6.86 metric tons for every million people. Now in 2015, every million people use 6.38 metric tons of CO2. That means in the past 30 years we’ve reduced for each million people about half a ton of CO2 because of energy efficiencies, because of the change in the way we do energy. 

We do it much cleaner now than we did in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Good for us. We achieved a lot, if you remember 1985, a lot of changes. But we’ve got half a ton less CO2 per million people. What this proposal is, is they’re proposing for the administration that for every million people in the U.S. In 2030, we would use 4.48 million tons of CO2. That means in the last 30 years, with all the energy efficiency movements, with everything that’s been done, with the remarkable shift in renewables, we’ve gained half a ton. The administration wants us to get now two tons of additional amounts in the next 15 years. 

You understand why a lot of people say this is just not rationale? You can’t get to an acceleration that fast in that big of a goal. Here’s what happens. I look at the facts and requirements and immediately I’m called the Neanderthal that wants dirty air and dirty water. I have children too and I like clean air and clean water, but facts are stubborn things. A government mandate doesn’t create reality. Remember Jimmy Carter in 1979? He declared that his policies would create an energy path so that by the year 2000, 20 percent of America’s energy would be produced by solar power. 20 percent by the year 2000. How are we doing with that? Less than 2 percent of our energy in 2015 is produced by solar power. Mandates don’t create realities. If we drastically change all of our electric generation to wind, solar, nuclear and sun and natural gas we’ll hit our annual number, but the amount of decrease a year will amount to approximately what China puts out in a month. They’re talking about reducing a year, about 450 or so metric tons of CO2 that America would put out. China emits 800 metric tons a month. 

That’s why so many people say this is a very expensive goal for America that will have no effect on the global realities. Just add a dose of cold water to the reality. It usually takes more than ten years for a power plant to even get a permit and to start the construction because the department of energy and E.P.A. restrictions are so high. So this plan in the next 15 years we’re going to have all this rollout, we can’t even get to the permitting time in that period and haven’t touched on the legal issues from the new administration, to have them in front of the American people or in front of congress. 

The existing law, the clean air act, does not allow E.P.A. to add another layer of regulations on top of the existing regulations. That is clear in the law. You cannot do that. Even the former Sierra club general counsel David Bookbinder found this new proposal has what he called a legally dubious ground. As a nation, we don’t need more pie-in-the-sky energy ideas. We need real solutions and a right direction that will benefit the United States and the world. We lead the world in power and ideas. We should set high goals but our goals should help us as a nation, not hurt us. Every American pays more to pump right now because of the increasing regulations in the ethanol mandates. Every American is paying more in gasoline than we should. Every American is paying more in electricity because of the cost of the mandates. People ask me why their dollars don’t go so far. The regulations are the reason. Many people want to know about our energy future. So do I. 

But I want to talk about our energy present. The goal is a huge goal. We’re about 5 percent right now in renewables. That will still leave us, even if that goal is accomplished, coal, natural gas and nuclear power. On hot, still days when the wind doesn’t blow, it’s base power. Let’s keep going. It’s a good thing. Glad we’re able to harness some of that. Takes a massive amount of acreage. We’re glad to have it. 15 acres of solar. 15 acres of panels. It powers two neighborhoods. Two neighborhoods. And it takes 15 acres get that accomplished. Windmills are much more efficient than they’ve ever been. In fact, they’re efficient enough we should probably stop subsidizing them. They’re not a start-up anymore. We started subsidizing them 20 years ago saying someday they’ll be efficient enough to work. 

I think we’re already there. In fact, there are more than 48,000 utility scale wind turbines in the country right now, 48,000 windmills in the country right now. To give you some perspective, there are 36,000 McDonald’s in the world. We have 48,000 windmills. There are 36,000 McDonald’s in the world. I don’t think the windmill is a start-up anymore. I think it’s pretty well established. Maybe the need for the subsidy is not there. Geothermal is a great energy source. We have yet to tap it for heating and businesses, but we still need natural gas, oil, and nuclear for the foreseeable future. Even the Obama Administration lays out what their anticipated use will be and they anticipate we’re going to need gas, coal, oil, basic base power. So let’s do it the cleanest way we can, the most efficient way we can so the consumer is not punished for using energy. We should keep innovating for the future but should make rational choices on energy.

Let me give you an example of an irrational choice. Can I do that? Here’s an example of an irrational choice. The Keystone X.L. Pipeline. I know, everyone will say we’re going to talk about it again. This is day 2,510 of a request to build a pipeline today, 2,510 of a permit sitting on the president’s desk for a pipeline. Let me give you an example. All these black lines you see here, those are crude oil pipelines in the United States currently there. This is how many thousands of miles. You want the number on it? More than 60,000 miles in the United States of crude oil pipelines. 60,000. It’s another pipeline. Why does it take 2,510 days to be able to make a decision on this? 

It’s an international pipeline. That’s right. Let me add something to it. We have 19 international pipelines currently running. 19 of them. This would be number 20. This is not something new and radical. We’re already buying a significant amount of Canadian oil. You know where it’s coming from? Right here. The pipelines coming from the same spot and look at that, they cross the border. And it’s been safe and reliable. This has not been a big challenge for us. That oil is not just being blocked from Canada. Many people think if we don’t bring it in a pipeline, it won’t come. It’s coming by rail already. It’s coming into the country. This is just cleaner and more efficient to be able to move it that way. Canada is discussing taking a pipeline over here to drop it to the coast and bringing it by ship over to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Does someone think that’s more efficient than bringing a pipeline in? It’s not more efficient by rail. It’s not a more efficient by this way. If we’re going to bring it in and Canada is going to sell it, with why don’t we have international pipeline number 20 right there and bring it in?

I heard multiple people say it’s because of the aquifer in Nebraska. I’ve heard this over and over again. We can’t run pipelines through the aquifer in Nebraska. Here is that aquifer that’s being discussed in the purple here. Every line that you see is an existing pipeline running through that aquifer. This tiny blue line that’s the proposed keystone to go right through there as well. They make these comments about we can’t run it through that aquifer because my gosh we can’t run a pipeline there. That’s how many we already have in that spot. This is not radical. This is not different. In fact, let me give you one more image. This is the number of pipelines that we have in America right now of all types. This is both natural gas, crude, all kinds of petroleum products that move through the United States all the time. Every single one of those lines. This is irrational — irrational energy policy that is knee jerk that says we can’t add one more pipeline because it will somehow go over the top and ignores the reality of what we already have in the United States. Moving energy by pipeline is clean and efficient. It’s also a rational way to do it. We’ve got to move from freer-based energy policy — fear-based energy policy to fact-based energy policy.

To look not only at our energy future in the decades to come, I hope my car one day runs on a pinwheel on the hood ornament, that would be great. But that’s not now. My car still runs on gas. So does everyone else here, every single person here that gets on an airplane every week, it doesn’t run on water. It still runs on energy that we pull out of the ground. So the foreseeable future we need to deal with the facts. Stop hurting consumers for some proposed future hope of what may happen. Let’s do it clean, let’s do it innovative, but let’s not hurt consumers in the process. People want to know where their money has gone. It’s being spent away on regulations. Let’s get to work on an energy plan. I’m glad to have this conversation but it should not be a conversation in the halls of the E.P.A. This should be a conversation in this room to determine where energy policy is going. With that, Mr. President, I yield back.”