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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007 - Continued

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Location: Washington, DC

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007--Continued -- (House of Representatives - May 18, 2006)

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer language to strip from this bill a grievous assault on Florida and on other States that are dramatically impacted by what will be a 3-mile drilling limit. It does not recognize the needs of our military; it jeopardizes world-class one-of-a-kind ecosystems and industries. It doesn't respect the rights of our States to manage our own resources. It is an ill-conceived plan tied to the back of the wrong legislative vehicle.

We come here this evening to debate a very important component of our national energy policy. This particular piece of our national energy policy needs to be comprehensive in nature; it needs to be dealt with in a forum other than the annual spending bill which controls everything from the National Park Service to wetlands mitigation and the national endowment for the arts and the humanities. It should be a stand-alone bill for this House to consider the merits and challenges of opening up the Outer Continental Shelf to exploration to assuage our national energy needs.

We are in the process of negotiating a comprehensive solution to this problem. The sponsor of the legislation that found its way into this spending bill has his own comprehensive solution at 20 miles, and yet this jeopardizes our coasts at 3 miles. It does not leave any room for error, it did not have any input from the affected States, and it is opposed almost across the board by the Governors of those States.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 10 seconds.

Mr. Chairman, the sponsor of this, and now one of his supporters, have both said 3 miles is not their ultimate goal. That is what is in the language. If that is not your ultimate goal, let's withdraw this amendment and have a real debate on a separate basis about a comprehensive solution to this problem.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I say to my friends again, we agree on the technology having been improved. We agree on the need for a comprehensive solution. But you all agree with us that 3 miles is too close. If that is the case, let's adopt this amendment and do this the right way.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds.

We have begun an important debate here that even the author of the language that we are seeking to strip admits is Draconian, and allowing drilling 3 miles offshore, even the sponsor admits that is not his goal. If that is not his goal, adopt the Putnam-Capps amendment and let us move on to the appropriate way to discuss comprehensive energy policy in this Nation and how it impacts the Gulf of Mexico.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I thank my friend from Hawaii. That conversation is well underway. I appreciate the leadership of our friend from California, the chairman of the Resources Committee, Mr. Pombo, who has led that discussion and has led to a very bipartisan, thoughtful, and candid approach to the proper way to deal with this Nation's energy crisis, the proper way to deal with exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the proper way to make sure that we are not impeding the military mission that would affect our Nation's defense.

This language that the amendment I have sponsored with Mrs. Capps and a number of others is an overreach. The amendment fixes what even the authors of that language admit is an overreach. Three miles is not supported by even the person who wrote the language. So if that is the case, let us pass the Putnam-Capps amendment and begin to move further down that road of the exploration question to solve our Nation's energy problems.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased now to yield the balance of my time to a champion for Florida, a stalwart in this debate, the chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, my good friend, Mr. Young.

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