Inhofe, Boxer Trade Barbs over Obama’s Energy Policy During Senate Hearing

Melanie Arter | March 23, 2012 | 10:34am EDT
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U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) addresses a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. (Photo: Inhofe Web site)

(CNSNews.com) Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Environment Committee, had a heated exchange Thursday over President Barack Obama’s energy policy during a hearing on the EPA’s FY2012 budget request.

Inhofe began his opening statement pointing out that Obama planned to “take credit” on Thursday for part of the Keystone pipeline that will be constructed from Kushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas.

“Everyone knows that it was the president unilaterally that stopped the XL Pipeline, particularly that area going through Nebraska. It happens that his authority does not allow him to do the same thing to the South, and therefore, he’s there making his statements about how friendly he is to oil and gas,” he said.

“But even as President Obama stands in the oil field, pretending to support this pipeline, he continues full force with his efforts to regulate fossil fuels out of existence, spearheaded in large [part] by your agency,” Inhofe said, addressing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.

“His EPA is moving forward with an unprecedented barrage of expensive rules – from greenhouse gas regulation to hydraulic fracturing to clean water regulations … with express purpose of eliminating fossil fuels,” Inhofe added.

“Okay, since Senator went over 30 seconds, I’m gonna take 30 seconds to say this: President Obama has always endorsed an all of the above strategy when it comes to energy. This is not the energy committee. It’s the environment committee, but I feel I want to put this in the record,” Boxer chimed in.

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“We’ve had more domestic drilling to the point where in 2011, American oil production reached the highest level in a decade, and gas production, the importation of oil has gone down every single year since President Obama took office, and natural gas is at an all-time high in terms of production. So all this talk about how the president is against this is incorrect, and he is for an all of the above strategy,” she said.

“He may not want to drill in places where it hurts the fishing economy, the recreation economy, the tourist economy, but he sure is showing by facts, not since yesterday, and not since gas prices went up, but since he came in that he is gonna move forward. So I really think the facts belie my dear friend’s comments. I really do, and we’ll move on,” Boxer added.

Inhofe interrupted Boxer, saying, “Well since you went over your 30 seconds over by a minute and a half, let me just have 30 seconds to respond.”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t, but… I’m happy to give you 30 seconds more,” Boxer said.

“We agree that in spite of all of his punitive things he has tried to do … We’ve had tremendous opportunities, and in spite of his policies, we … have increased our production and will continue to do so, and if we can get all of the politicians out of the way, we would be able to be totally independent of the Middle East, not in a matter of years, but in a matter of months,” Inhofe said.

Boxer interrupted Inhofe, saying, “Well, we have two percent of the world’s proven, proven supplies.”

“No, that’s not true,” Inhofe responded.

“Well, we’re not going to go off on this,” Boxer said.

“No, I can’t leave it at that though, ‘cause that’s not true,” Inhofe said.

“No, we’re not going to do this. You, you raised,” Boxer said, slamming her gavel.

“We have the largest recoverable reserves of any country in the world,” Inhofe said. Boxer slammed her gavel repeatedly.

“Senator Inhofe, my dear friend. I just want to say this is not the energy committee. This is the environment committee. You used your time to slam our president, and I take offense at it, and I will tell you right now. If he’s so punitive, why are the oil companies making more money now than ever before in history. Record profits. They’re singing in the boardroom,” Boxer said.

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