DEEP OCEAN ENERGY RESOURCES ACT OF 2006
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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, my friends, I rise in support of H.R. 4761, the Domestic Energy Production Through Offshore Exploration Act of 2006.
In 1981, Congress enacted a ban on energy exploration covering more than 85 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf. At the time, U.S. natural gas prices were the lowest in the industrialized world.
Today, U.S. Natural gas prices are the highest in the industrialized world. Prices for natural gas continue to increase, while the government continues to promote new natural gas consumption.
To balance the market, we need to invest in efficient, alternative energy. Additionally, we need to increase access to new energy supply sources, like ethanol and hydrogen, to keep pace with new and growing demands.
The high cost of natural gas and oil has a major impact on both the farm and forest sectors.
Paper mills, a major employer in my district, are very energy intensive. Energy costs account for 18 percent of the cost of operating a mill, almost eclipsing costs for employee compensation. The effects of higher energy prices have been dramatic. Over 232 paper mills have closed and 182,000 jobs lost since 2000 when energy prices started their steep ascent.
For farmers, higher natural gas prices mean higher costs for fertilizers. According to the USDA, average fertilizer prices in March 2006 stood 74 percent higher than the 1990-92 levels, nearly approaching all-time records. The high cost of oil has also greatly effected farmers and ranchers. Unlike many businesses, farmers and ranchers cannot pass on the extra costs to their customers and must absorb rising costs themselves.
H.R. 4761 addresses the supply piece of the puzzle to help bring natural gas and oil prices down. We can no longer continue to ban access to large sources of supply, while we continue to encourage innovation and advancement in all areas of industry, education, and technology.
This bill allows the Federal government to begin the process of developing these important resources throughout the outer continental shelf.
The bill's provisions are essential to ensuring a more cost efficient source of natural gas and oil. The benefits of efficient and cost-effective energy are not limited to one single industry, but extend to businesses, farmers, consumers, and communities. We find ourselves for the first time in a quarter century acknowledging that we as a Congress can no longer continue to promote natural gas and oil consumption and, at the same time, prohibit more production. I urge my colleagues to vote. ``yes'' on H.R. 4761.
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