Participants Include: Rep. John Shaegg; Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. Scott Garrett; Rep. Robert Latta; Rep. Mike Pence; Rep. Pete Sessions; Rep. Mark Souder; Rep. Lynn Westmoreland
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REP. SHADEGG: Good morning. I'm John Shadegg from Arizona, the 3rd District of Arizona, and I want to thank you for being here. I want to thank all of my colleagues for being here. I'm going to let each of them make a comment.
But what we have to lay out this morning are some rather shocking facts, and I'll walk through them. And they paint a picture that raises a serious question about whether anything we do on the floor today here in the House to pass legislation to expand energy in America and particularly to allow some degree of drilling, which the minority -- majority party appears to have agreed to, has any meaning whatsoever. Indeed, I would argue it is in fact absolutely meaningless. And I would go beyond that and say whatever the Senate does is absolutely meaningless unless that legislation is changed.
And I think it's very important to understand the American people are focused on Washington today, thinking that we're going to address the issue of energy and particularly believing that some compromise has been struck to allow some limited degree of offshore drilling. That's what Ms. Pelosi would say, were she here. That's what Mr. Reid would say if he were here. That's what the Gang of 10 would say if they were here.
I want to suggest to you that any American who thinks this legislation will lead to the production of additional oil from offshore sources any time in the next four, six, eight or more years, that will even start before that time frame, is being deceived and is mistaken.
Let me explain why. We did some research, and we have discovered that the language -- first, the language in the bill contains nothing dealing with legal challenges to the proposed expansion in drilling. Indeed, what it says is that all existing environmental laws are renewed or are upheld. Nothing in the bill repeals or limits or places any limit on current environmental laws or on any legal challenges that are filed.
You put that language in context with what's going on in America today with regard to oil leases and you discover nothing will happen. Let me lay that out quickly.
In February of 2008 the federal government issued 487 leases in an area called the Chukchi Sea, off of Alaska. They put those leases up for bid. Four hundred and eighty-seven of the leases were bid upon, but instantaneously the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club and others filed a legal challenge challenging not some of those leases, not 80 or 90 percent of those leases, but they filed a legal challenge against all 100 percent of those leases. Every single lease was challenged in court -- 487 leases offered and bought by people who would produce oil, 487 leases challenged.
We discovered that in the total area of Alaska, there are a grand total of 748 leases in a combined Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea. The government issued those and in May of 2008, just this last May, the same groups -- Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and other radical organizations -- filed lawsuits challenging not some of the 748 leases but all 748 leases.
You discover that under the law once a lease has been issued, a proposed developer has to file what's called an exploration plan. In February of 2000, the Minerals and Management Service of the federal government approved 12 of these exploration plans so that we could go forward and explore. Various environmental groups filed lawsuits blocking all 12 of those. Those leases have been blocked for at least 12 years.
There are other suits, one under the Freedom of Information Act. And they have not limited these lawsuits just to offshore leases. In July of '08, the New Mexico State Office of the Federal Bureau of Land Management auctioned off 78 oil leases in these states: New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Several groups led by WildEarth Guardians filed suit challenging all 78 leases.
What I'm trying to make the case here is that 100 percent of all offshore leases have already been challenged. Indeed, in kind of the penultimate or the most important lawsuit of all, the same environmental groups in July of '07 filed a lawsuit challenging the government's proposed schedule for oil leases for the next five years. They sought an order blocking not only all leases already issued under that plan, but the language of the lawsuit says they want to block every future lease under that plan between now -- actually between 2007 and 2012.
What this says is that every single lease in Alaska and in the Lower 48 has already been sued, at least in the outer continental shelf.
Now, I went to Rules last night at about quarter to 11:00. I appeared -- I appeared before the Rules Committee, and I explained that there was a simple solution to this concern.
If the Democrats are genuine about wanting to produce oil in the near future, if the Gang of 10 is sincere about wanting to produce oil in the near future, if Harry Reid is sincere about wanting to produce oil in the near future, and if my friend Saxby Chambliss -- and I consider him a friend, we were elected in the same class -- if he really believes the Gang of 10 proposal is a proposal that will produce oil within the reasonable future, then there is an easy fix, and that is to say that lawsuits can be filed under all of these environmental laws, we don't oppose that, but those lawsuits should be consolidated in one court and there should be a timeline during which they are resolved.
That was the amendment I offered last night in Rules Committee, saying, look, let's allow legal redress for the environmental movement in America and for everyone, everybody should have their day in court, but we shouldn't have dilatory lawsuits. We should require them to be filed in one court and resolved within a reasonable period of time. Needless to say, my amendment was not made in order.
I'm going to conclude by saying the precedent for doing this has been established. In the Alaska pipeline, when we couldn't get it built because there were lawsuits, the Congress came in and passed legislation consolidating the lawsuits and getting them done in a period of time, in a reasonable period of time. The pipeline had been going for four years and had been brought to a stop by litigation. Within two years of the passage of that language, consolidating lawsuits and getting them resolved quickly, the pipeline was built.
You all have been around here recently. You're all aware that last year, or year before last, we passed legislation authorizing the construction of a border fence, and you know that that bill contained language saying we wouldn't let environmental lawsuits or other litigation preclude the construction of the fence, for national security reasons.
I have explained this carefully. I'm thrilled to be joined by so many of my colleagues, and I'm going to let each of them speak. We'll begin with Mr. Pence, I believe, who spent so much time on the floor, and then Mr. McCotter, who worked so hard on this issue.
REP. PENCE: I'm Mike Pence from Indiana. I thank John Shadegg for his extraordinary research in revealing one more fundamental flaw in the so-called energy bill of the Democrat majority. The Democrats, up until last Thursday, made it clear over the last year and a half that they would not even permit a vote on the floor of the Congress that gave the American people more access to our domestic reserves. Now in the dead of night last night, they bring a bill to the floor that they ostensibly say includes more drilling. But thanks to the research of John Shadegg and my colleagues gathered here, we can see that this is not yes to drilling, this is yes but. This is yes but no drilling in Alaska, no -- (audio break). (In progress following audio break) -- single shovel of dirt is turned.
And all the strings attached really reveal this is a charade. And we're going to use every effort, every ability in our power to expose this charade and demand the Democrats stop playing politics with the energy independence of the American people.
REP. SHADEGG: Mr. McCotter.
REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER (R-MI): Thank you.
The American people are hurting. They deserve an energy policy, not cynical politics from the Democratic Congress.
When you think about the arguments that have been made about expanding America's domestic energy production, one of the arguments that we hear from the Democratic Party is that it will take too long. And yet when Congressman Shadegg has given them a clear opportunity to do something, to shorten the delaying tactics of the left, they have refused. It is our belief that they will continue to refuse a sincere, honest and effective energy policy for the American people because, quite simply, internally, their compromise amongst themselves is incapable of providing that.
REP. SHADEGG: Virginia Foxx.
REP. FOXX: What we've been saying over and over again -- the Democrats are in charge of the Congress. However, this proves it's not really the Democrats who are in charge of the Congress. It's the radical environmental groups that are in charge. They're the ones that are holding things hostage.
The Democrats do not want more American energy. There are indeed anti-more American energy. Republicans have said, over and over, we are pro-American energy. We want to do all we can to bring down the price of gasoline. We know that increasing the supply will do that, and it is time that we do it.
This is a sham, a hoax. I think we all need to go to our thesauruses and find every single word that can describe this bill. But it is an illusion, and we're not going to let them get by with trying to perpetrate an illusion on the American people. We're going to make sure the American people understand the issues involved in this bill and why they are paying high prices for gasoline.
REP. SHADEGG: A gentleman who understands how long lawsuits can drag things out, the former attorney general of California, Dan Lungren.
REP. DAN LUNGREN (R-CA): I thank the gentleman. I did have experience with literally thousands of lawsuits, including hundreds if not thousands of environmental lawsuits, and I understand the impact they can have. And I understand by delay, you can defeat.
The failure to allow the Shadegg amendment is proof of a conspiracy between the Democratic leadership and the environmental extremists in this country, and let me explain why.
To use an analogy from my days as attorney general, in the area of the death penalty, when we have lethal injection, the first thing you do is, you inject someone with something that sedates them, so they feel no pain. The second injection actually paralyzes the heart and therefore kills them.
In this case, the passage of this bill sedates the American people, on behalf of the Democratic Party, so they won't see what's happening to them. The lawsuits that remain basically paralyze the heart of this bill or any energy bill. It effectively means we will have no new energy.
Now, I know, the speaker is smart enough to know this. So you have to ask, why? And the why, the answer to why, is this. This is the way to lull the American people to sleep, at a time that they need energy, to give them no energy and make sure they continue their conspiracy with the radical environmental movement in this country, which has told us, more expensive oil is good for America.
We don't happen to believe that. My constituents don't believe that, and we're not going to go home silently. We're going to actually expose this conspiracy and try and stop this death penalty against energy in the United States.
MR. : Ginny Brown-Waite.
REPRESENTATIVE GINNY BROWN-WAITE (R-FL): Thank you very much. I'm from Florida and I represent counties along the Gulf Coast.
You know, what we really need is to get these leases up and running. But that's really only part of the problem. Even if we were to open up these lands for leases tomorrow and pump the oil the next day which, we all know, isn't realistic, we haven't built a refinery in over 30 years.
One was actually attempted to be built and that was the Arizona Clean Fuels Refinery in Yuma, Arizona. And I'm sure Congressman Shadegg could fill us in more about that. But once again the radical environmentalists stopped this.
The process began in 2003. They received a permit in 2005. But since then, lawsuits have stopped the refinery from being built. Nearly four years later, these lawsuits are being finalized. And construction may or may not begin soon.
Obviously this delay is unacceptable. We need to have more refineries built. So not only in the drilling process do we need to have litigation reform but also in the siting of refineries.
We need to consolidate them, and America truly does need an all- in energy plan.
I thank Congressman Shadegg and other members who are here today on this very important issue for standing up for the American public and for the American family, the middle class, who's truly -- and those lower-income individuals who are truly being hurt by Speaker Pelosi's very poorly thought-out plan.
REP. SHADEGG: Our colleague from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey.
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R-GA): Phil Gingrey from Georgia. I serve on the Science Committee, and when this Congress started in 2007, the first two hearings that we had, the witnesses were Nancy Pelosi and in the second hearing the witness was Al Gore, after he had gotten the Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth."
And all they wanted to talk about was the importance of climate changes and cap and trade and, of course, later Ms. Pelosi went on to appoint a commission to study this issue, against the wishes of her own powerful chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The point is that there was no question that when this Congress started, their main focus was climate change. And just like Ms. Pelosi has said in recent weeks, "My mission is to save the planet." And Harry Reid on the other side, as the leader of the Senate, said, "Fossil fuel is nothing but poison, and we need to eliminate all of it by the year 2020."
These ridiculous comments by the leaders of this Congress tell exactly what their intent is. She has said that any bill that comes before the House that has any drilling component within it, like the American Industry Act, is nothing but a hoax.
Well, indeed, last night at about 10:00, she presented a 290-page bill with a little drilling in it that is nothing but a hoax, because that is fully what she intended. To not share revenues with the states means that none of them -- literally none of them -- will allow, because they have the opportunity to opt out, drilling within 50 and 100 miles of their coast.
This is not acceptable. This is not the all-of-the-above Energy Act, the American Energy Act. This is almost none-of-the-above, and that stands for nada -- none of the above. And let's remember, when we speak about this, this is not an energy bill.
REP. SHADEGG: Our colleague Cathy McKee (ph). I think she understands the legal challenges. Cathy?
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): Thank you. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State.
REP. SHADEGG: (Inaudible) -- Washington State.
REP. MCMORRIS RODGERS: (Laughs.) You're fine. Can't help but think back to 2006, when Speaker Pelosi, at that time Minority Leader Pelosi, said she had a commonsense plan to bring down gas prices in this country. I was running for reelection and very much -- it was very much on the forefront of people's minds, and gas was about $2.50 a gallon.
And today we've seen dramatic increases from then -- since then. And we are continuing to wait for this commonsense plan to bring down energy prices and gas prices. I wanted to join today with Congressman Shadegg in especially highlighting the role that some of these laws and regulations are having in really halting any progress on American energy.
Many of these laws were written, well-intended, in the late '60s, early '70s. I led a task force on improving the NEPA law -- the National Environmental Policy Act -- in the last Congress.
And as we traveled around the country -- this task force -- we found example after example that is now being highlighted again where oil and gas exploration and development is not moving forward or that it is delayed many, many years because of the lawsuits that are so often attached to these projects. And this is not what was intended when this law was passed in 1969. But, yet that is the impact today.
And I can't help but contrast that to what I saw this spring when I went up, led a trade mission into Alberta, Canada, to look at the oil sands. And here you have Alberta that has an economy that is growing, at the same rate of China and India's economy, largely driven by the exploration and development of oil in the oil sands. And they have the second-only reserves to Saudi Arabia at this point.
There's a big difference in what's happening in Canada and the United States. They have their version of NEPA. It's called the Canadian Environmental Policy Act, CEPA. But the big difference is that after you work through this whole permitting process, after you work through the mitigation and come up with a final permit, it -- they aren't allowed to take it to court and put an injunction on it or question it and delay it many, many years. And I'd like to see us look at similar legislation.
And I think Congressman Shadegg is on the right track when he's highlighting the fact that we are not moving forward in this country largely because of lawsuits that are halting progress.
REP. SHADEGG: My apologies.
Our colleagues in Texas know a little bit about oil. We're going to do Pete Sessions and then Louie Gohmert.
REP. SESSIONS: John, thanks so much.
Some 20 months ago, Nancy Pelosi, as she was preparing to be speaker, said this would be the most open, honest and ethical Congress in the history of Congress.
Well, for the last 20 months, we have seen our friends the Democrats talk about raising taxes, the change that was under way but also how they have dealt with the energy policy.
For the last 8 months, Republicans have been talking forthrightly about a need for a balanced energy plan, one which would protect this country, our economy as well as the people who need a thriving economy.
Republicans have repeatedly talked about how we need a balanced plan including nuclear power, wind power but the ability also to drill and use our own resources.
Last night, finally, Nancy Pelosi brought forth, to the Rules Committee, her closed rule that would deal with the energy plan from her perspective. John Shadegg showed up at the rules committee, willing to not only offer his ideas, but one of the ideas that John Shadegg brought forth was to say, let's take all of these lawsuits, put them into one lawsuit before one court, one judge and let's make a final determination about how we will solve this issue, this problem.
Nancy Pelosi and the Rules Committee made sure that that amendment was not made an order. That could not be voted on today, as a balanced part of the ideas that the Republican Party and members of this Republican Conference are bringing forth, to try and work with the Democrats on making energy policy better.
Today, the Republican Party will continue asking Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to not stand behind a radical environmentalist policy that will make sure that we continue to bleed the middle class, ruin our economy and place the American people at a point where we will have to pay any price that some people who produce oil, around this world, many of them who are not our friends, will charge this country, that we'll have to pay. They are placing the United States of America into a dangerous position, to where we could be without oil on a moving-forward basis.
The Republican Party is going to stand strong, but what we're also going to say is that the American people need to see the battle that's happening in Washington, D.C. The Democrat Party is absolutely in favor of their special interests, the radical left, not allowing drilling and a balanced program to take place in this country. The Republican Party is for us having an energy policy that is preparing America for the future with lower energy prices.
We're now going to ask the American people at the ballot box to make a determination and to end the tie that is happening in Washington, D.C. and we're going to ask the American people to turn out and vote on behalf of how they want this to turn out. And I believe that the American people are fed up with the Democratic leadership and the rank-and-file Democrats who are incapable of a balanced energy plan to support this country.
John Shadegg has great ideas. Our conference has great ideas. Nancy Pelosi as speaker has no desire for this to be an open or honest debate. It is all about radical environmentalism, trial lawyers and a radical left who will control America's energy policy.
We're going to ask today on the floor again for the American people to see the difference between the teams that are elected in Washington, D.C. and we're going to ask the American people at this election to help us balance the ball. And the ball that I think that they will choose is this Republican Party with a balanced energy program and a policy for our future, for economic growth and development.
REP. SHADEGG: As a former judge, our colleague Louie Gohmert understands delaying lawsuits.
REP. LOUIS GOHMERT (R-TX): Thank you, John. You know, we've heard for so long about the 68 million acres that we're not having oil and gas being produced from. And, you know, normally the media will do investigative journalism and a "gotcha moment" -- aha, here's the reason the 68 million acres are not being produced -- in this case, fortunately, we had John Shadegg when nobody else had done the work.
REP. : (Off mike) -- lawyer.
REP. GOHMERT: And John came back with the information. The federal government lets a lease to produce oil or gas, it's immediately met with a lawsuit. How disingenuous to come up here and be screaming about these oil companies ought to be producing from those 68 million, knowing all the while that you have friends who have got lawsuits that will keep them from being able to produce that.
Now, when I'm exhausted, I'm a lot less patient, and that's where I am right now. I've been up most of the weekend. My district is in east Texas and we're just north of where Hurricane Ike did its most damage, but we still had hurricane winds that hit my district. So I was around in the worst parts being hit as they were being hit, in the emergency operation centers of the different counties, out in the road with chain saw helping clear roads, anything that could be done to help my district.
And I can tell you even right now there are generators running all over my district, where they're lucky enough to have generators.
They're running out of gasoline. They're hurting. They're begging for more gasoline.
So I get up here to Washington and find out, oh, we are definitely going to have an energy bill this week. They finally filed it last night. And it would be a very funny joke if this were just politics with no consequences. But the trouble is, people are hurting by its callousness and the gamesmanship in this bill that the speaker has proposed. It is mean as it could be. People are hurting. People are getting hurt.
And I've been with them this weekend, and they don't care about Democrat, Republican. They don't care about games. Most of the people who are hurt the worst, frankly, are Democrats. And you would think that their party would come rushing to the rescue, but they've made promises to teachers they haven't kept. They've made promises to union workers they haven't kept. I've lost hundreds of union jobs, and you get to investigating, and hundreds of jobs have been lost because of the price of natural gas in the United States is too high and it's cheaper somewhere else. I don't know how you can continue to say we're the unions' friends when you're sending union jobs elsewhere because you will not allow energy to be produced.
But to have a bill like this, when you know that by not including prevention of litigation, consolidation, bringing it to an end quickly, that no energy will ever be produced as a result of your energy bill. It's not just a joke. It is mean. It is heartless. And there are people suffering as a result.
Now that we know that lawsuits are holding up all these leases once they're leased, then the difference between the majority leadership -- and I make that distinction, because we've got too many Democratic colleagues who understand, whose constituents are hurting. And the Democratic representatives, they understand. We need to help them. And so they side with us on this issue. When we find out that that's what's holding it up, the difference is, we come forward with an amendment to fix it, not to play games.
But I appreciate the work of all my colleagues with us, but it's time for games to stop. It's time for Democrat versus Republican to stop. It's time to help the people that are hurting, because they're sure out there.
REP. SHADEGG: I'd like to let each of my colleagues who are still here speak briefly, and I'll be happy to answer your questions.
REP. PAUL BROUN (R-GA): I'm Paul Broun from the 10th Congressional District in Georgia.
America is the only nation on Earth that refuses to develop its natural resources and tap into its own energy sources. That's not because we as Republicans refuse.
It's not because the American public refuses. It's because the radical environmentalists and the liberals who are controlling the Democratic Party refuse. They're only a small segment of our society, but they refuse to allow us to tap into our own natural resources. It's a travesty. And who's it hurting? It's hurting the people that they say that they represent the most, the poor, those on limited incomes, the retirees. They are suffering from high energy prices more than any other entity in our society.
This bill we had today is a bald-faced lie. It does not provide energy to help solve the energy problems we have in this nation. It's a bald-faced lie. People are going to still be hurt by high energy prices. It's not going to produce one drop of oil. It's not going to develop the alternative sources. It's not really even going to stimulate the conservation that we need to do.
We need a bill to drill. There's no question about it. This is not it. It's a lie to the American public. And the thing is, it's going to hurt the people who cannot afford to be hurt the very most, the poor, those retirees, those on limited income. We've got to have an energy policy that makes sense, that's an "all of the above" energy policy. The American Energy Act does that.
Now I call upon the American people to tell their members of Congress in the House and the Senate we have to vote on the American Energy Act. It's absolutely critical for the future of our nation.
If we don't, it's going to hurt us economically, but it's also a national security interest. If a nation's not secure with its own natural resources and its own natural energy, it's not a secure nation. That's where we are today. We're funding people who hate us, want to destroy us. The Democratic majority, the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party are promoting the things that hurt America the most. We have to have a vote on the American energy policy.
REP. (R-CA): Speaker Nancy Pelosi and I both represent districts in Northern California. Hers is a district in San Francisco. Mine is a very large rural area just northeast, in Northern California. Now, I'm not sure what Speaker Pelosi's constituents tell her when she goes home, but I can certainly tell you what my constituency tells me, many of which cannot afford to own homes in her district, that -- some of which drive to her district to work. Many drive to Sacramento to work. Those are hurting, and they're telling me so.
The farmers who have to buy petroleum and energy at very increased rates are hurting. The small businesses in my district are hurting. And they would like a vote, up or down, on whether we actually can go out and be able to drill for more oil.
But yet what we see that's coming from the Democrats is not a bill like that. It's a bill which is the equivalent of a father telling his son -- giving him the keys to the car and saying, "Son, you can drive this car anywhere you like, but you can't leave the driveway." And that's basically what we see the Democrat bill being. You can drill, but we're not going to protect you from lawsuits, which we know a hundred percent are going to sue. You can drill anywhere you want to but it has to be at least a hundred miles off the coast where it costs so much, knowing that 80 percent of the petroleum is within 50 miles. It's all of this, but -- which doesn't allow us actually to do it.
The American public, my constituents, deserve better than that. Nancy Pelosi and House Democrat leaders, allow us to vote on a real energy bill that will produce real energy.
REP. GARRETT: Morning. Scott Garrett from the 5th District, State of New Jersey. You know, as the old saying goes, as Rome burns, Nero fiddles. And as the American taxpayer and the American middle class burns, Democrat leadership and Nancy Pelosi play politics down here.
When you look at all the headlines and you consider how Wall Street is melting down and Main Street is suffering from that and all the devastation we've had from the storms, you are amazed that not more action is taken here on one of the fundamental underlying factors that could alleviate some of the pain, and that is a coherent energy policy, but such is not the case.
If you were on the floor just a little while ago, as some of us were, anticipating going to the floor and speaking this during the one-minutes, because Nancy Pelosi had indicated that we were going to have unlimited one-minutes today, you would have found out two things: One, once again she had done just as she did back in beginning of August when she closed down the House and prohibited on the subject, and one, just as she did again last Friday when they had moved to adjourn and again prohibited any debate on this, you would -- saw the same thing happen today when they changed the unlimited debates -- one-minutes -- down to only 30, so again prohibiting any debate or discussion on this topic to any extent.
Another point that you would have heard if you were on the floor at that time was this: There's a basically a disingenuous statement being made by the under (sic) side of the aisle on this matter.
They are saying that as they bring this bill to the floor, that they had worked in a bipartisan manner, reaching out to both Republicans and Democrats to get to this point where we are today. But then as they tail off in their discussion on this, they said: But we are moving this bill based on what we want to move on this bill. And you basically saw that today and last night in the Rules Committee, when none of the most important provisions were allowed to be included in this bill.
The final point is this: that until we get an energy policy passed that actually brings more energy to market, the American middle class is not going to see their pocketbook continue to -- end burning. And until politics get out of this by the actions by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat leadership, we will see Americans suffering under this.
REP. LATTA: Hi. Bob Latta from the 5th District of Ohio. And I just want to compliment my colleague on the fine work that he's done to point out what's happening on these lawsuits.
You know, what's happening right now as we go onto the floor or anyplace, the chickens have come home to roost for the Democrats on their oil policy, because there isn't one. You know, the problem is -- is that -- there's about 11 of us went up to ANWR about two months ago. You know, we've got oil up there, 10.3 billion barrels. But you know, one of the things is, even if we can get ANWR open, you know, the next thing we're going to know, we're going to have to anticipate all the lawsuits. You know, you say, well, it's going to take 10 years. On the other side of the aisle they say yeah, it'll take 10 years because of all the lawsuits that are going to get filed.
But if we get rid of these lawsuits, we start getting this oil down south. And we got to get it done now.
And I tell you what. I represent the largest agricultural district in the state of Ohio. According to the national manufacturers, I'm in the top 10 manufacturing districts in the country. And if we don't have oil, if we don't have energy, we can't produce, we can't keep people working in Ohio. The jobs are leaving. But we got to do something about it right now. We can't wait five years. We can't 10 years. We got to act right now.
You know, when you look what's happening down in the Gulf, you know, we had to shut everything down, the refineries. Well, the problem is, we haven't put a new refinery up in 30 years in this country. Why? Well, one of the big problems -- everybody says it's the lawsuits. So what we got to do is start moving this thing. We've got to move this now, because we've got to start diversifying where our energy is located. We can't rely on it from overseas. We got to take care of ourselves in this country today.
So I just want to applaud you for all your hard work and look forward to helping on this bill.
REP. SHADEGG: Thanks, Bob. I have dropped a bill to allow the consolidation of these lawsuits and expedite them. And we think that language will also be added to any motion to recommit we drop today.
I want to make one last comment before I answer your questions. You know, I grew up with kind of that -- I think it maybe was a TV commercial that says it's not nice to fool Mother Nature. I have a message for Nancy Pelosi and I have a message for Harry Reid and I have a message for my friends in the Gang of 10. It's not nice to fool the voters. It's not nice to pretend you're doing something when you know you are not.
In this case, the Pelosi bill, the Reid bill and the Gang of 10 bill will do nothing but fool the people into believing that oil will be produced.
They know these facts: 100 percent of every single oil lease in Alaska and in the Lower 48 is being sued and the leases are being challenged, every single one of them. Now, it's not difficult to compromise on this issue. Put in language that says consolidate the lawsuits and put a deadline if you sincerely want oil produced soon. But if you leave that language out and you tell the people we've done something about producing more oil in this country, and you know that it will be sued and nothing will happen for years, you're deceiving the American people and that's wrong.
I'd be happy to answer your questions.
Q What is -- you don't have any amendments on this bill, right?
REP. SHADEGG: We're not allowed an amendment. I went last night -- there were many others --
Q So the only opportunity you have is to recommit. How do you see that scenario working out? Could you -- would it be a recommit and then go right, possibly, to the Republican bill or what? What happens --
REP. SHADEGG: Well, the issue of --
Q If you were to succeed, in fact --
REP. SHADEGG: Right. Well, the issue of recommittal is one that -- it's decided in part by the jurisdiction that's touched upon by the bill itself. We can only write our motion to recommit when it touches or fits within the jurisdiction of the prime bill. So until 9:45 last night, when we got the bill, we couldn't see how to write our motion to recommit. Leadership staff, I want to compliment -- doing a great job. They're writing a motion to recommit right now.
I don't know what it will include, but I know this much: It will include language -- because I provided it to our leadership and they asked me for it -- which would say we've got to deal with the issue of legal challenges. They've told me that. Whatever we offer, Republicans are going to make clear that we would not pass what purports to be an energy bill knowing it would go nowhere. Beyond that, I don't know precisely what will be in our motion to recommit. That, of course, always comes out moments before it's offered.
Q (Off mike) -- paramount to getting a vote on your -- on the Republican drilling bill? Would you consider that to be a vote on the Republican drilling bill?
REP. SHADEGG: It all depends upon what we're allowed to offer, and I don't know the jurisdiction of the main bill. I don't know what we're going to be allowed to offer.
Q If this is what you get, will you vote for it?
REP. SHADEGG: If this is what we get?
REP. SHADEGG: There are lots of other problems in this bill that we have talked about. I think -- if you look at this bill carefully, there are many other deep concerns about it.
For example -- and people in America need to know this -- it makes permanent the locking up or the putting off-limits much of the outer continental shelf that we think should be opened. Some of the most productive areas that we think should be opened are locked up. For example, has been -- has been mentioned here, much of the proven reserves are within 50 miles. This bill allows nothing within the 50 miles, even if the states approve of it.
So is this the only thing we want? No. But the argument is, why won't you Republicans compromise? Why won't you compromise and agree? Let's just do 50 miles out.
I would suggest to you, you can compromise with people are sincere about coming to a compromise. But why -- why try -- why should we compromise on a bill that we know will do nothing? Trust me.
This bill provides that all litigation shall be allowed. It has a section in it that says all -- this bill does nothing to restrict any existing environmental law. Why'd they put that in? Why did they have to say this bill does nothing to present -- to prevent or to limit any existing legal challenges? Why would they put that in? The answer is, they put that in because they've already cut a wink, wink, nod, nod deal with all of these environmental groups, and they know that those environmental groups are in fact going to file suit.
And I got some quotes from the Natural Resources Defense Council, who have admitted this is about politics, not about policy. The lawsuits and the lawyers are waiting to sue. How do you compromise on a bill that's going to be challenged and do nothing? That's why I was upset, and that's why I think we're all disappointed. It does not appear to be sincere effort if you don't deal -- and we're willing to deal reasonably. You know, let's put a reasonable limit in there that says consolidate them in one court. I don't care if the Democrats want to consolidate them in three courts. Allow them a period of time -- maybe that period of time is four months, maybe it's six months, maybe it's a year -- but some reasonable limit on these lawsuits, so we actually produce oil.
I thought that's what Nancy Pelosi said she wanted. Yeah, we're going to produce some oil to get us to the future where we can be on renewables. When our friend Saxby Chambliss said this is the only bill that can pass and really produce oil, I think Mr. Chambliss has not thought through the issue of the fact that it won't produce oil because of the legal challenges.
My friend, Mr. Sessions, had a point he wanted to make.
REP. SESSIONS: Yeah. Thank you, John. And the point that I would make is last week, the House was adjourned very abruptly and quickly and properly by the speaker because of the storms which were coming. They've now hit Texas. They've now hit all across the country, including Chicago, Ohio. There are lots of counties that are in distress, millions of people without electricity, and yet today the speaker rushes the bill to the floor for the first vote today when many, many members cannot even be here to cast their votes on an important bill.
And I think it's a sad day when people who are impacted by natural disaster, who legitimately have a right to be in their home district, now the speaker brings forth a bill where they would be excluded from the bill, not being allowed to vote on that bill in important areas of people who have a lot of say about that.
So I would also ask that the speaker delay that vote. Let's have a debate about what your energy policy is, and let's allow those members, which there are many of them from my home state of Texas and across this country, who would be allowed to be in Washington, D.C., to not only be a part of the debate but to be able to present a vote on behalf of their constituents.
So I am also here at this press conference asking Speaker Pelosi, please, just as you did last week when we rather abruptly, because of the storm, Ike, that was pounding and preparing to pound Texas coast -- when we adjourned, to please make sure that those members would be back here, know about the vote, not just hear about it, that it was at 10:00 last night in the Rules Committee, and the first vote up today, and allow them a chance to come back. Thank you.
REP. SHADEGG: This young lady in the back had a question. Yeah?
Q I'm interested in the fact that you classify as "radical environmentalists" -- (inaudible) -- some of the oldest and biggest mainstream environmental groups with hundreds of thousands of members in the country.
Are there any environmental groups you'd be willing to work with?
REP. SESSIONS: Well, I think we'd work with every environmental group. And I think you make a valid point. Some of them -- you know, some positions they take are radical, and I think when they file lawsuits, they go on forever and ever and ever, or when they file lawsuits against every single lease -- what I think is shocking news here is they didn't challenge, you know, 50 percent of the leases, they didn't challenge 90 percent of the leases, they didn't challenge 98 percent of the leases, they challenged every single one. I mean, out of -- in the Chuck GC (ph), out of 487 leases, could they have just sued 486 and let one stand, because people want oil? No. Out of 748 leases, could they have sued just 747 to show some degree of reasonableness?
Or could they have stepped forward and said to the speaker -- I mean, I think one of those mainstream environmental groups who you mentioned is the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has been working with the speaker on this bill. I've got a quote from them saying they've been working on this bill. Could the Sierra Club today come forward, with its lawyers, and speak with Speaker Pelosi and say: Well, we can agree to some reasonable limits. We can't litigate this as quickly as the Republicans might want, but we're willing not to drag it out for six or 10 years.
So, I think, you know, the word "radical environmentalist" could be overstated. I think indeed there are many mainstream environmental groups who -- and I want to make this point. We never proposed to stop all lawsuits. I describe myself as a recovering lawyer. I think there are legitimate issues. I believe in the rule of law. I think that they should be able to use the nation's environmental policy to ensure that the government complies with the law and that we not destroy our environment. I mean, I have kids. I care about this place.
But can't we find a reasonable compromise? And that's why I would have hoped -- and I actually said to the Rules Committee last night, I said, take my amendment or write language of your own that would somehow say that if you're going -- if various people in this country want to sue, which they have a right to do and should be able to do, then let's put some reasonable practical restrictions on that law -- on that litigation so that the American people don't think that this bill is going to lead to leases being issued forthwith and drilling starting soon, if in fact there's going to be a period of a year of litigation, or a period of 18 months of litigation or a period of two years of litigation.
It seems to me that reasonable people -- and I would like to believe the Sierra club is a reasonable group. Some of the others on this list I think are reasonable groups. They have sued. And perhaps they want to put themselves in a bargaining position. All we're asking for is that they impose -- that there be some kind of provision in whatever bill the Gang of -- what is it, six, 10, 12, 16, 20 -- offers, or some language in the speaker's bill, or some language in the bill we passed for the American people that deals with this issue, because they're all silent on it right now, and that means that to the extent there are people who want to see that no oil is ever produced, no oil can be produced, because you can just litigate and litigate and litigate. But I think your point is well-taken.
Q Congressman, will you vote for this bill as it is?
REP. SESSIONS: No. Absolutely not. I think that would be outrageous. To vote for this bill when I know that it's going to do nothing? It will not solve the problem unless you deal with this issue.
Q What's the sense among your colleagues? Do you know of other Republicans that are considering voting for it?
REP. SESSIONS: I don't know. You'd have to talk to -- (off mike).