Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Madam Speaker, offshore energy development is an important step toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating new jobs, and putting our economy back on track.
In 2008, by ending the decades-long ban on offshore exploration, we opened 500 million acres containing an estimated 14 billion barrels of oil and 55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration immediately instituted an extended public comment period, delaying progress.
Despite public support for increased offshore drilling, Secretary of the Interior Salazar recently stated the Obama administration will now wait until 2012 to put a new plan in place. This means the administration's initial 6-month delay has turned into a 3-year moratorium on new offshore exploration.
With the potential to create 1.2 million jobs and add $8 trillion to our economy, it is irresponsible to continue to ignore the economic potential these areas hold.