RELATING TO CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 6111, TAX RELIEF AND HEALTH CARE ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 08, 2006)
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Mr. DAVIS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, it is outrageous what this Congress is about to do. This Congress is voting on a sorely needed adjustment to reimbursement rates for physicians that is very important to my home State, Florida, and the entire country.
But as part of that, the Congress is also being forced to vote on opening up 8 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, which threatens the environment and the economy in the State of Florida. There has not been a single hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives, in the State of Florida, anywhere in the country, on the implications to the environment, the economy, the Florida beaches, not just a State treasure, a national treasure, opening this area up for drilling.
And what's at stake? What's at stake is this drilling is going to occur in a part of the Gulf of Mexico where the currents, the tides, the wind and the slew of hurricanes that we know all plague this part of the country could bring disaster to Florida in the event of a spill.
Now, reasonable people will disagree on the probability of a spill. But we should at least have an open and honest debate as to those facts and the serious implications to the State of Florida if there is a spill, because there has been evidence I have put in this RECORD from public hearings in Florida, from experts, that if there is a spill out in the Gulf of Mexico, this current could easily bring this oil spill into the west coast of Florida, my home, the Florida Keys, a national treasure, even to the east coast of Florida.
And why are we doing this? For 60 days of oil for the country and 97 days of natural gas one State, the State of Florida, is being put at risk, also, at a time where there are over 4,000 leases currently in effect for the oil and gas industry that are not being tapped.
As a matter of fact, 80 percent of the known oil and gas reserves on the Outer Continental Shelf are already available for lease exploration and drilling. And yet, on the last day of this Congress, this Congress forces the American people, the United States Congress, who want relief for physicians and their patients, to be forced to open the Gulf of Mexico up to 8 million acres of drilling.
Now, what should happen instead? This rule should be defeated. This Congress should come back next year and have a comprehensive energy bill.
Should Florida support drilling in the Gulf of Mexico? Of course we should. We should be part of the national solution, but only after an open and honest debate to make sure that Florida's environment and our economy is protected, to make sure that drilling is part of a comprehensive bill that includes stronger, smarter fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, emphasis on renewables and alternative fuel. That is the responsible approach, not just for the State of Florida, but for the country.
So I would urge defeat of this rule, and let's go back and take up this issue in a fair way, not just for the State of Florida, but for the entire country.
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