Floor Statement in opposition to H.R. 2231, the “Offshore Energy and Jobs Act”

Jul 28, 2013

Mr. Chairman:

I strongly oppose the offshore drilling bill before the House.  Sadly, this legislation is representative of the unbalanced, partisan, and ultimately self-defeating approach that the Republican Majority has taken on energy issues.   

H.R. 2231 would mandate lease sales along the east and west coasts and elsewhere with inadequate environmental review and scant attention given to local concerns.  In total, leasing would be mandated off the coasts of 14 states, whether they want it or not.  If this heavy-handed giveaway to the oil industry seems familiar, that’s because it is.  Last July, the Republican Leadership brought a nearly identical bill before the House.  That bill never advanced beyond the House, and this drilling bill won’t either.  The Senate won’t take it up.  The President has said he’d veto it, so other than demonstrating the Majority’s fealty to Big Oil, why are we again wasting the House’s time on this?  

We’re told that this bill is about making the U.S. more energy independent.  Let the record show that domestic energy production is booming under the current Administration’s policies.  In 2012, American oil production reached a 20-year high.  Natural gas production is at an all-time high.  The U.S. is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer within seven years.   

We’re also told that this bill is all about driving down gas prices for American families.  What guarantee do we have that the oil and gas production mandated by this legislation would actually stay in the United States?  Over the last decade, U.S. exports of petroleum products like gasoline and diesel fuel have nearly tripled.  Every day U.S. refineries export millions of gallons of refined petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel.  This is no doubt good for the petroleum industry’s bottom line, but it’s hard to argue that it helps consumers at the pump.   

At the end of the day, the country needs an all-the-above energy strategy, including responsible oil and gas development, increased energy efficiency, support for renewable energy, and investment in advanced energy research and development.  Unfortunately, the House Majority remained locked in an oil-above-all policy.  The oil drilling bill before the House deserves to be defeated.