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Letter to the The Honorable Ken Salazar

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Location: Washington, DC

Letter to the The Honorable Ken Salazar

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar,

In light of the press conference you held today in New Orleans regarding the new 5-year offshore drilling plan from the Obama administration, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss several issues regarding your announcement. While I welcome this long-overdue conversation about our nation's energy policy, I have concerns about the specific proposals put forth by the administration.

In its FY2010 and FY2011 budgets, the Obama administration included numerous increases in taxes on domestic energy production. Specifically, proposals would have increased taxes by more than $147 billion. Tax increases of this nature always have the same effect: reducing innovation, stifling economic growth, and discouraging the energy production that drives our economy. That is why I voted for multiple amendments to the budget to strike these taxes that would destroy thousands of jobs in Louisiana's energy industry.

While I applaud the president's intent, this week's announcement by the Obama administration raises far more questions that it answers. Given the administration's previous hostility to increased domestic oil and gas production, I am deeply skeptical of the sincerity of the new proposals and of the administration's commitment to aggressively pursuing these proven sources of energy.
I specifically call attention to recent statements by Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggesting that new regulations on shale resource production are in order. Despite the tremendous discoveries of new supplies of natural gas in recent years, along with technologies that have proven to be both safe and efficient, the administration continues to look at new ways of regulating hydrofracturing that would frustrate the development of these vast supplies of natural gas. This policy would have a direct negative impact on natural gas shale production that is ongoing in northwest Louisiana at Haynesville Shale.
Another hurdle we face in Louisiana is the disappointing performance of the Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP), which had the potential to be a model for revenue sharing and coastal protection for states moving forward with energy development and working proactively to secure America's energy future. Unfortunately, CIAP has fallen far short of meeting its goal of quickly and efficiently distributing revenues to affected states. I recently introduced an amendment in the U.S. Senate to improve the efficiency of CIAP grant distribution while maintaining the safeguards imposed by the original legislation. The amendment received bipartisan support in the Senate but did not pass due to opposition from Democrat leadership.

Again, I certainly applaud the intent of your announcement, but I hope that you will address these issues by eliminating the harmful taxes on the oil and gas industry in your current budget, removing all burdensome regulations that are holding back shale production and supporting the bipartisan changes to CIAP that were in my amendment. These three steps would have an immediate positive effect on the state of Louisiana and the nation's energy independence.

Sincerely,

David Vitter
U.S.Senator


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