Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Energy Wildcatters Speech

Congressman Pete Olson
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Texas Alliance for Energy Wildcatters
November 12, 2015

Good evening, it’s great to be with the Wildcatters.  As we all know, it's been a rough couple years in the oil patch.

Today’s low prices hurt, but it’s a still a good time to be part of American energy production. As the new number one producer of oil and gas in the world, OPEC is afraid of us. They know we've just scratched the surface of shale.  And with further progress, we'll see our economy strengthen, and will be able to stop our global allies from being held hostage by OPEC and Russia.

American energy is flooding the market. Our refined products are filling gas tanks around the world. The light and medium crude we would have imported years ago are staying in the global market. 

Why is this happening? Because energy producers are risk takers and innovators. They are wildcatters. American ingenuity is how we became a global force and will bring us back on top.

There is great potential for this to be the century of American energy dominance, but it depends on Washington and its overbearing bureaucrats getting out of the way.  Our energy success depends on our getting access to our abundant natural resources.

We are truly blessed to have so much private land here in Texas. You or a Landman can go directly to a land owner and make your pitch. Often, the land and mineral rights have been in the family for years. They know what's best for their family and their land.

Companies make decisions in their best interest. In good times – and there will be good times again - these deals will help businesses expand and hire new employees.

Sadly, many states have thousands of acres of public land under federal control where the red tape is endless. Even now, federal agencies are working on rules to increase control over the drilling process.  And we know from past practice, Washington tends to use public lands as a model for private lands.

Thankfully, Texas regulators understand that producing energy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, they are inclusive in Texas.  Every form of energy that can safely operate in a free market - be it wind power, oil, nuclear or gas - should be allowed to do so.

Let's talk about the Endangered Species Act.  I’m locked on this target – only 1.3% of the species listed as Endangered have been taken off the list.  If the ESA were player on the Houston Astros, his batting average would be 0.013.  He would have a hard time making the Little League team in Pearland, TX.

None of us want to see species die off. We all want to pass down to our children a country as vibrant and diverse as the one we all grew up in. But the Endangered Species Act has changed from a tool to save animals; to a weapon to kill growth and jobs.

Environmental groups knowingly flood the Fish and Wildlife with lawsuits. They clog the pipeline with so many lawsuits that Fish and Wildlife simply throws its hands up and agrees to massive settlements. 

They have to because they have been hit with a title wave of petitions.  In recent years, they've been asked to deal with the same number of petitions as the first 30 years.  To be keep from drowning, Fish & Wildlife must quickly decide whether to grant sweeping protections that block land from development. And by sheer chance, many times these species just happen to live on top of our new shale plays.

In what may be a surprise, I'm going to give kudos to President Obama.  He knows the ESA is out of control and tried to stem the tide of petitions by ending the practice of stacking a single petition with hundreds of species. He agrees with us that the April 2010 petition for 404 species is insane. Last May, he issued a rule to stop this.

But, President Obama's Rule falls short.  It's built upon the same flawed ESA house of cards. That’s why I introduced H.R. 2134, the Listing Reform Act, my bill brings common sense to how the government handles listing endangered species and ends their role as a weapon that forces rushed, ill-informed settlements.  It allows Fish and Wildlife to establish priorities for listing species - the worst go first, and the least go last.

As the only Republican from Houston on the Energy and Commerce Committee - I'm your guy!  As your guy, I get to ask folks like the head of EPA and the Energy Secretary to explain their actions and how they are using your money and affecting your jobs.

I've worked hard to start the export of natural gas and to end the 1975 ban on crude oil exports. We had hearings on the benefits of exporting crude oil to our allies and got the bill passed through the House with a bipartisan 261-159 vote.  

That's progress but there's still a lot of work to bring our energy policies into the 21st century. We have a tremendous amount of energy in this country. When we export it, we help our own economy and our allies abroad.  To get the full benefits of our shale boom, we must also have infrastructure to get our energy where it needs to go.

I’m not surprised and not alone in my disappointment that President Obama prepared for the upcoming Paris Climate Summit by ending construction of the Keystone XL pipeline with Canada. With this rejection, President Obama said YES to China and dirty air, and NO to American jobs and clean air.

The southern leg of Keystone XL is already in place, safely delivering energy Cushing, OK to Texas from other parts of the country. The Canadian segment should have been approved a long time ago just like the first Keystone Pipeline was approved in 2007. Pipelines are the safest way to move energy. After dragging his feet for seven years, it’s a shame the president said no.

Countless pipelines all across this country are stuck waiting for federal approval. One agency says yes, another one demands more study.  Agencies with an agenda have developed ways to keep throwing wrenches into the works.

Texans understand the critical need for safe pipelines. Oil and gas pipelines reach every major city and refineries and petrochemical sites run through our state, passing under neighborhoods and river ways. 

They are the lifeblood of an economy that thrives on energy. But, while pipelines are a safest and most efficient way to transport energy, accidents do happen.  And when they do, the left doesn't let that crisis got to waste - they paint all pipelines as ticking time bombs of destruction.

That’s why we have a careful balance of state and federal review to set standards for pipelines and lay the ground rules for pipeline inspections and needed upgrades. 

However, flaws in the system have been exposed. The 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California prompted Congress to act. We passed a sweeping bill to improve pipeline safety rules and set a deadline for DOT to improve safety standards, but their response has been slow and uneven. 

We need more inspectors in the field, but to hire new ones, DOT must go through a lengthy process that often results in applicants getting a private sector job quicker with better pay. 

That’s why Rep. Gene Green and I wrote HR 3823, a bipartisan bill to cut the red tape and expedite the hiring process, which will help spur a “surge” of inspectors. 

Finally, I want to talk about the EPA.  To some, those 3 letters mean Environmental Protection Agency.  I call them the ENERGY PREVENTION AGENCY.  They have gone completely rogue. They are trying to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act despite the fact that the Democrat who WROTE THE CLEAN AIR ACT told them the act can't be used to regulate CO2.

They started with rules for power plants, and are working their way down the food chain.  Refineries are next.  It may end with rules to take away our pick-up trucks and BBQ.  Who knows?

EPA also recently issued a new ozone rule that lowers the current level of ozone from 75 parts per billion down to 70 parts per billion.

EPA officials promise every rule they propose will bring huge health benefits and minimal costs, and those who question the merits, like me, is treated like a pariah.

EPA wants us to ignore how they double-count benefits from one rule to the next. We aren't supposed ask how they save the same life twice or how technology not yet invented can help lower costs.  When I ask, they have a problem with facts.

Knowing this rule was coming down the pike and how important in was for my home, I asked my Chairman, Fred Upton, to lead the fight in the House.  Last Congress, I wrote a bipartisan/bicameral bill with my friend Bob Latta from Ohio called the CASE Act - Clean Air, Strong Economies.  It puts the brakes on EPA’s new ozone standard until most of the country is in attainment. 

Ozone standards impact everything. Everyone from power plants to dry cleaners will feel the pinch. For oil and gas, it spells trouble for the processing sites and the infrastructure that helps move our energy.

Left unchecked, these higher standards will trickle down TO EVERY AMERICAN CONSUMER - either through lost jobs, higher costs - or limits on new production.

Because EPA can’t consider costs when regulating ozone, the cost of this rule will be massive. Their own estimate runs into the billions.

EPA admits we can't control half the ozone in our air because it comes from trees or China.  EPA also admits most of the technology to achieve these new standards does not yet exist.

The goal of clean air must be balanced with a strong economy.  The CASE Act simply requires EPA to write a common sense rule that factors economic cost into the equation, and make sure the rule is based ozone made by Americans, hard science, and not outdated modeling. 

Incredibly with all red tape, government hurdles and low oil prices, our energy economy is still on offense. Production is still expanding.  We enjoy the highest quality of life humans have ever enjoyed.

And that's because of y'all. I can’t make a free market, but I sure as heck can raise the anchors that hold the free market down - cut red tape, open energy markets and keep DC off your backs. 

Thanks again for having me here tonight.