Our nation's national security is tied closely to our energy security, which is why it is important to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. As energy prices fluctuate, we must have a comprehensive, all-of-the-above strategy focused on exploration, innovation, and conservation. This approach will simultaneously invest in our country's natural resources, domestic energy infrastructure, and alternative fuel sources. The main goal of a multi-pronged approach is to provide for energy security and lower energy costs for businesses and families, thus improving economic conditions across America.
In the short-term, we must do more to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. By expanding the use of our domestic natural resources we can increase production, thus, reducing the cost of energy here at home.
Today, the most important task facing our nation is increasing domestic production, which can be accomplished via the Keystone XL Pipeline. In 2011, the Obama Administration announced its decision to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would transport crude oil from Canadian oil sands to refineries along the Gulf Coast, until after the 2012 elections. The Administration defended its decision by citing environmental concerns, despite numerous environmental impact studies, which have found the project to be environmentally sound.
This kind of decision directly inhibits our country’s ability to gain energy independence. Not only would this project contribute to our national security, it would also create hundreds of thousands of jobs, 20,000 of which are immediate and shovel ready. Additionally, the completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline would increase our domestic petroleum supply to an estimated 302 million barrels a year. That comes to 830,000 barrels per day.
In October 2011, I had the opportunity to visit Alberta, Canada, and witnessed first-hand the Canadian oil sands and the positive impact that exploration and excavation has for the American people and South Carolinians. Michelin Automotive Tire Corporation in Lexington employs 500 people to produce the massive Earth Mover Tires. In Aiken county, MTU Diesel builds the engines used in the Earth Mover machines which recover the oil from the Oil Sands. The approval of this project directly impacts jobs in the Palmetto State.
In the long-term, we must invest in new and existing technologies to diversify our energy portfolio. These include, but are not limited to, biomass, nuclear, solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel-cell. I remain committed to investing in and providing incentives for all different forms of alternative energy.
American companies and entrepreneurs have continuously led the world in innovation. Investing in new energy companies is necessary to gain energy independence. However, we must make sure the government does not use federal funds to directly invest in unproven high-risk technologies, which put taxpayers dollars on the line.
In 2011, our country learned of a federal loan guarantee to Solyndra, a private, start-up company specializing in manufacturing solar energy panels, which was funded by the President’s failed stimulus plan. This questionable deal eventually ended with the company filing for bankruptcy and the loss of over $535 million taxpayer dollars. Our government must never mismanage or misuse hardworking taxpayer dollars for the sake of alternative energy ever again. South Carolina has been on the forefront of energy innovation. Currently, we have two nuclear reactors under construction at VC Summer—the first of their kind in over three decades. Moreover, the Savannah River Site (SRS) is taking measures to attract companies looking to construct Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) to its vast 300 square mile facility. This project has the potential to bring thousands of high paying jobs to our state.
In addition to SMR’s, SRS will also be the home to our country’s only Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF). This facility, currently under construction, will help the U.S. to honor its international nonproliferation obligations and disposition over 17,000 nuclear bombs. The plant is expected to have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years and will turn pit-Plutonium into mixed oxide fuel, which will be used to provide cheap power across the country. Moreover, the project is providing over 2,000 jobs today at the Site and over 900 jobs will be created once construction is finished in 2018.
South Carolina is doing its part to lead our country towards energy independence. In doing so, we have created jobs and will produce cost efficient energy. The federal government needs to implement a page out of the South Carolina playbook. More stringent regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency will only drive up the cost of energy and kill jobs. Our country must pull together and drastically change the current national energy path we are on before it is too late. We have been blessed with ample resources here at home. It is of paramount importance that we utilize our proven reserves in addition to our exceptional minds as we develop the technologies of the future while harnessing the resources we have.
Congress approves funding to avoid SRS furloughs