Congressman August Pfluger addressed members of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association on June 27 in Midland, Texas, updating them on events in Washington, D.C., and emphasizing the strategic and economic importance of the Permian Basin to not just the nation but to world security and stability. These are his remarks, in full.
To Ben, Steven and everyone who led PBPA in the past or who has had a hand in leading it—and to all the members—let me tell you that you’re making a national impact on the direction that this country needs to go. We had two congressional hearings [that] came to the Permian Basin earlier this year, late February. And with the help of your leadership with Ben and Stephen right there, helping us select witnesses and go through the process of what needed to be said to the members of Congress everywhere across the country, both Republicans and Democrats by the way. That hearing led the way to the passage of the speaker’s priority legislation, H.R.1, House Resolution 1, the most important priority for Speaker McCarthy, this conference, which was energy security. And so, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I feel right at home because this is my passion. I think this is why I was sent to Washington, D.C., and I love talking about energy. So buckle up for a few minutes.
Before I get into the talking points, I’m going to do something. I want to recognize somebody here. You talk about sacrifice, you talk about serving and servant leadership that comes with these types of jobs. I don’t do anything alone. We have a team of people. My family is my first team, my wife Camille, my three daughters. And they support me and allow me to go, not just in the military, but go to Washington, D.C. Secondly, we have a team of an office. And that office exists in Washington, D.C., and it also exists in six places throughout this district: Midland, Odessa, Llano, Brownwood, San Angelo, and, for the first time ever, Killeen. Managing six offices and coordinating 750,000 different constituents and doing the service takes a lot of work. It is a bittersweet moment right now to tell this gentleman thank you for his service, not just to me, but also to Mike Conaway, my predecessor, because you never want to see your superstars leave your office but I know he’s going to a great office here. He’s going to continue to serve this community in the Midland Chamber of Commerce. So Evan [Thomas], come on up here. I’ve got something for you. Come on up on stage. I’m going to embarrass you fully. [laughter] Evan, this is a flag that we flew over the Capitol in your honor, and I hope you’ll take it with you and know that it’s not just me, it’s not just our office, but you have 750,000 constituents right now saying thank you for your service. The certificate says that this is to certify that the accompanied flag was flown over the United States Capitol at the request of myself [and the] 11th Congressional District of Texas, and it’s presented to Evan Thomas in honor of many years of devoted service to the 11th District of Texas and the United States House of Representatives June 27th, 2023. Thank you, Evan. [applause]
Y’all, we’re in a period of time that I think, from a national security standpoint, the challenges that we face right now are more serious than at any other point in time in our modern history. And I think even more serious than what we saw in World War II. It’s more complex. There’s different domains that you can fight in. It’s no longer just the air domain or the land domain or the sea, you have the cyber domain, you have space, you have non-traditional actors, you have non-state actors. You see what happened over the weekend with the Wagner Group. Thank goodness the mercenaries don’t have control over 6,000 nuclear weapons in Russia right now. These are the kinds of challenges that we face.
And when I go to Washington and I talk about the underpinnings of our national security, I’m so proud to represent this district because this district is literally at the heart and soul of our national security. Rewind the clock to World War II, and I realize I’m preaching to the choir here. Twenty-five percent, at least, of the world’s production came out of the Permian Basin during World War II. The German war machine ran out of POL—Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants. They ran out of POL and they couldn’t continue their war efforts. We however, had the Permian Basin and we continued to produce, and that production of oil and gas in World War II allowed us to continue to build the actual weapon systems, the airplanes and the tanks and the armored vehicles, to fight in two different theaters. Right now, I think we’re looking at a security challenge across the world, whether it’s the invasion of Ukraine or the threat of China and Xi Jinping invading Taiwan. We’re looking at a situation where the only answer from the United States of America has to be extreme strength. And that strength comes from our economy. It comes from having a military that is ready to fight. It comes from having the ability to have relationships and partnerships and alliances around the world where our partners and allies actually trust us and they know that we’re going to do what we say and likewise.
But all of those are a result of having energy. None of those things happen without energy. Not a single one of them. The military and that F-22 that I flew, that—by the way, my carbon footprint was extremely high [laughter]—that doesn’t happen without energy. Affordable, reliable energy. There’s a term out there called ‘all of the above.’ I’ve gotten away from this [term]. I’m not going to use it any more. I’m not going to use ‘all of the above.’ I want the best of the above. What works? What is reliable? What can the American public and main street businesses use every single day to lower the cost for households?
Anybody tired of paying four times on your electricity bill? I’m tired of that. What can Main Street businesses use? What can our military depend on? What can our all allies and partners around the world use? Every single country I’ve gone to since being a member of Congress, including Japan, countries in Europe, all over the world, have said, ‘Can we get more natural gas from West Texas?’ I said, ‘Yes, you can.’ But the administration has declared war on this industry. It’s a shame. It’s under the auspices of this emergency that they have declared in the name of climate change. And I do this at every single, every group or every town hall. [I say] If you don’t care about the planet, please raise your hand right now. I’ve never had a hand go up. We’re still a hundred percent on this one. Everyone cares about it. In fact, when you look at the track record, the Permian Basin has led the way through the Shale Revolution. We’ve led the way on emissions, on harmful emissions, on curbing those emissions. The Paris Climate Accords and COP26, they don’t even come close to what we’ve done here and we’ve led the world. And when you think about it, we are ceding actual power, energy power, to China. The critical minerals that make up these batteries, the mining in places like Africa. The fact that the Chinese are building at least one, maybe two, coal fired power plants every single week. They don’t care about the climate. All they care about is having reliable power and they’re doing that. Meanwhile, they’re selling us a bill of goods that’s being promulgated by the Administration and we’re going to cut ourself off at the knees just to spite that resource that we have.
And I thought the prayer was very appropriate. We have an abundancy of natural resources. We need to use them appropriately. We have been and God willing we’ll continue to do so. I want to talk you through, and I know we’re on a timeline. I’m going to spend 10 minutes… and my eight year old daughter was trying to FaceTime me right there…. [laughter]… She wants access to a video game. I haven’t read the terms and conditions yet… [laughter]… So I’m going to spend about 10 minutes and I’m going to talk you through the things that we’ve been doing in Congress. I’m not declaring victory here. We have a lot of work to do. I am declaring war on entities like the EPA because they don’t have the best interest of our country at heart. They’re not actually helping the environment. They’re certainly not helping the most vulnerable in our country. They’re making energy more expensive for them. And they’ve used every weapon and every tool at their disposal. Endangered Species [Act], Waters of the U.S., the threat of an [Ozone] Non-Attainment re-designation here, the tailpipe emission rule, and a carve out for California. All these things are currently happening. And this is what PBPA has helped with.
When I say ‘help,’ let me give you the most important victory that we have had so far. When the Congressional hearing came to Midland, Texas, what we heard, 25 of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, what we heard is one of the most important priorities. If we could do one thing, what would it be? And it was NEPA reform. That was the one thing, that’s not everything, but that was the most important thing. We had a debt ceiling deal. Many of you may have watched this, some of you may not have watched it. Republicans currently control one half of one third of government. White House is controlled by the opposite party. The Senate, let me remind you, is controlled by Chuck Schumer, the opposite party.
In his campaign, in the lead up to his campaign, President Biden, then-candidate Biden, said he wanted to end fossil fuels. So that’s the frame of mind where the Administration is. In this debt ceiling deal, the Speaker of the House having already passed H.R.1, which was the lowering Energy Cost for America Act, which I had, I wrote pieces of that, including the repeal of the natural gas tax. And it had a host of other things that gave the Speaker the ability to go to the White House and negotiate NEPA reform the first time in 40 years. It’s not everything, but let me tell you what it actually does. And this is a solid first down figured in Midland, definitely in Odessa. This is a safe analogy. As a [San Angelo] Central Bobcat having come over here many times [where] we’ve gotten beaten… [laughter]… I know about that.
NEPA reform is a piece of the puzzle where you’ve got an environmental statement, an impact statement, and an environmental review that was taking 6, 7, 8, almost 10 years to do. Let me tell you the scope of this problem. There are 229 major projects around the country. Major hydrocarbon projects, and that doesn’t include the mining projects or other forms of energy. This is just hydrocarbons. So, 229 of them, that are held up in this process right now—229, even in the socialist country of Canada, they can permit it in two years. I never quote Jimmy Carter, but I will right now. He said that a reasonable amount of time to have an environmental review was one year. So when the Speaker of the House went to the White House, knowing the background of what I’ve told you, the President did not want to do any sort of permitting reform at all. We know that we need this. And what we did was we nicked it down to where you have two total years to write the actual statement and one year to do the environmental review. No longer will you have to deal with 10 agencies. You get one agency, a lead coordinating agency to work with. No longer do you have to write 700, 800 pages, now you can limit that. And the timeliness of this is incredibly important.
This is a major first down for us. The administration has said time and time again that they will do nothing on oil and gas. They will do nothing to further it. And yet here we are not having control of two of the three and we’re able to get this done. And so, I want to tell you that the work that was done ahead of time by a very, very slim majority of five seats out there to get to the point, and this is where PBPA played a major role in helping with these talking points and helping with the narrative and getting this across the finish line. Thank you for the work that was done to allow us to give this into a negotiation and actually get it signed into law.
Let me go on and tell you about a couple of other things. I’ve mentioned the natural gas tax. The administration has basically said that they want to tax natural gas, methane emissions. And we’ve worked extremely hard to push back on this. They passed it in the Inflation Reduction Act last year, but they can’t even, even Senator Manchin has recently written a letter. They don’t know how they’re going to implement this. That there’s money that was appropriated to go to companies when it comes to monitoring or reduction and none of that has gone out. They have no idea how to implement it or what to do with this. And it’s not a surprise to tell you that when bureaucrats, I don’t like when bureaucrats get involved, our life becomes much harder. So what are we doing about these things? And I’m going to talk about a couple other things, including Class six primacy, preventing some of the overreach that you’re seeing.
But the thing that we’re doing right now, which didn’t happen for the first two years that I was in office, is that every single week we’re conducting oversight over these agencies. I don’t know if you’ve met Secretary Granholm. I’m not impressed with many of her answers, but I wanted to set a baseline when she came to testify. This is a very experienced litigator, somebody who knows how to handle herself in a hearing. She’s not going to get trapped into making a foolish statement. But I asked her, I said, “Madam Secretary, can you tell us how much energy the United States, in terms of electricity, can you tell us how much energy we use annually?” And she didn’t know. So I got it off your website. Here’s the figure. And you think to a job description, and the Secretary of Energy, you would hope would have an answer to tell you, especially when they’re trying to force an electric vehicle mandate.
So here are some of the dangers. The oversight is really necessary because what they’re trying to do right now through the EPA on electric bureaucrats who are writing these regulations is they’re trying to say that electricity is a transportation fuel. They’re trying to mandate upwards of 60, 65 percent electric vehicles by about 2032. And they’re equating liquid fuels with electricity. And my question for the secretary, when she said that, I said, “Well, tell me if you implement that mandate, by the way, there’s 287 million cars out there on the American highways right now, 287 million. So you’re telling me that 150 million of those by 2032 are going to be electric vehicles?” They have not done the math on this. They have no idea. And I asked her, I said, “Tell me what it would take in terms of electricity if you were to get that mandate accomplished.” And she said it would double the requirement for electricity.
Did anybody get an email the past week on conserving electricity? I mean, and that’s here in Texas. In California, they’re going to mandate electric vehicles. And Gavin Newsom is out there telling people to not plug in their cars between 8:00 p.m. and midnight. Well, when do you think people charge their cars? So they haven’t done the math. It’s not a surprise to you. So the EPA was in front of us and I asked, by the way, I asked Secretary Granholm and I said, “When’s the last time you visited the Permian Basin?” Oh, well, she’d never visited here. And I said, “Secretary, with only respect, that’s the most prolific oil and gas production area in the entire world.” You would think, “Well, can you invite me?” I said, “I did. I’ve invited you several times.” I’m not sure if I really want to give that to her.
Just I may need your help on doing that when we bring her out. But the oversight we’re doing with the EPA director or the oversight that we’re doing with the Department of Energy asking these questions, punching holes into their flawed math, pushing back whether it’s tailpipe emissions [or whatever]. And if you don’t know what that is, basically, when the Clean Air Act was passed in the 1970s, California was able to get a carve out and get a preemption waiver where they can be more stringent on their requirements than the federal government is, which they’ve done time and time again. The problem with it is that that typically leads to several other, typically Northeastern, states following suit. And then when you get a Democrat regime, and especially if all three, the House and Senate and the White House, then they’ll pass that as federal law. This tailpipe mission rule, to say it’s bad for our country is the understatement of the day.There’s just no way that the automakers can comply with that. We don’t have the mixture of electricity to actually do it. It doesn’t work for the cost side of it. Economically, it’s not feasible. It certainly doesn’t work in this part of the world. But even in urban areas, it probably doesn’t work.
Okay, couple more minutes. I want to open it up to questions. I hope you guys will ask whatever’s on your mind. Recently, the EPA has threatened to re-designate, as I mentioned earlier, the Permian Basin under what they call a non-attainment designation, which has to do with ozone. My problem with this, I have lots of problems with it, but my primary problem with it is they don’t have any ground monitoring sites east of the New Mexico line that have given them the data or shown them the science. It took me six letters and a congressional hearing with Administrator Regan just to get an actual phone call with the region, the EPAs region six director, a lady named Nance. Six letters and a live televised hearing in front of the head of the EPA to get that meeting.
And we thought last year when this came up and the proposal was out on their website that by about December timeframe, we thought that it had gone away. They took it off the website. It wasn’t part of their discussion points, but unfortunately, it’s back and it’s something that they continuing to threaten right now. I’m working closely with Speaker Craddick, working closely with Brooks Landgraf and Senator Sparks. We’ve had a couple of phone calls including with the governor, but I don’t have to tell you how dangerous this would be and the amount of cost that it would impose, yes, on production and transmission, but also on consumers.
And that’s where our ideas are going to continue to be, how do we provide affordable, reliable energy? Class six primacy? Anybody care about Class six wells in here? [Hands went up.] Well, the EPA, once again is slow rolling us. Because if you haven’t figured out, I have declared war on the EPA because they overreach, they slow things down and they don’t allow commerce to happen at the speed of relevancy. We’ve got legislation to make that a reasonable permission timeline to speed it up and to allow privacy to happen at the state level, the Railroad Commission where it needs to. I could go on and on about the things, the problems that we see right now.
But let me just wrap this up and take some questions with saying we have a five seat majority. Y’all sent me to Washington, D.C., to talk about the national security impacts of the energy industry. Nowhere is that more important than at the Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas. This is the epicenter of the area that has literally changed the world multiple times through multiple different ways.And the latest revolution, the Shale Revolution, has helped lift a billion people out of poverty. It’s going to help us if we don’t fail ourselves and fail to use it. It’s going to help us regain that dominance worldwide and be a trusted, reliable partner. To play a geopolitical chess piece that will keep us safe. That’s the way that I’m looking at my job. Every single one of my 434 colleagues, Republican and Democrat, know the word Permian Basin. They know where it is and they know what it does. Now half of them aren’t as happy about it when I say it, but I’m working on convincing them.
And there are some folks who get it. I’m working on convincing them that we have to look at the next 50 years as that demand for energy starts… continues, not starts, but continues to grow. That hydrocarbons are going to continue to expand. They’re not going anywhere. So let’s do it here. And let’s not have a president that goes to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, or any other malign actor around the world and asks them to produce. Why don’t we have President Biden come here and talk to Mayor Blong instead of going to a foreign adversary to ask for more production? That’s my idea. I think that’s why you sent me to Washington, D.C. and I want you to know that every single day that I take them very seriously and I’m communicating and bringing folks out. Many of you have helped me by taking them to rigs, by showing them completions, by educating them on what we’re doing. And the last thing I’ll say is that in leading the House Energy Action Team, the HEAT team, which we have over a hundred members of that caucus, it’s one of the largest caucuses in Congress. People like Travis Stice have come up and talked to us and explained what the Permian Basin does. Anybody know Ray Perryman? Dr. Perryman? I brought Dr. Perryman up a couple of weeks ago and he explained to a group of 25 or 30 the economic side of what the Permian Basin is doing and how important it is. So I’m very proud to represent this district to be a messenger of a national security mission, which all of you are doing in this industry. And I thank you for that despite the fact that our president and the administration have declared war on this industry. [Applause.]