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Public Statements

Oil Drilling Needed in Gulf of Mexico

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. SCALISE. I thank the gentleman from Texas for yielding. I thank both of my colleagues for talking about this important issue because right now as we're battling what is already a human tragedy with eleven deaths, an environmental tragedy, probably the worst in the country's history, we're trying to battle to keep the oil out of our marsh and our seafood beds and the estuaries where the pelicans nest. We're also now fighting a new battle and that's an economic battle against this moratorium on all energy exploration in not only deep water but shallow water, which is going on.

So what we've been trying to point out is that, in fact, if you look at the safety recommendations that were made by the President's own scientific panel right after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the President assembled a team of scientists, engineers, experts that he picked--we didn't pick, he picked--to come back with a 30-day safety report, report on how to improve safety on the rigs and recommendations on drilling.

In fact, they came back with those recommendations. The interesting part was that many of the recommendations that they came back with are things that are already being implemented out there in the gulf by companies who have a safety record that is much different than BP, companies that have been in even deeper water. The Deepwater Horizon was in 5,000 feet below the surface. There are companies drilling in 10,000 feet that haven't had any problems because they do follow a different set of safety standards. In fact, they have a very high bar for safety.

As you were talking about, over 2,500 wells have been drilled in the deep water, many more, over 50,000 all across the gulf, but over 2,500 wells in the deep water, and yet this is the first time you've had an incident like this. And it's because the companies that are out there, unlike BP, have a different safety approach and haven't cut corners and haven't done the things that led to this disaster.

So as we're trying to find out what went wrong, we already know many of the things that went wrong and what needs to be done to stop it from happening again, not by reinventing the wheel, but actually going and looking at those companies who are already doing it the right way.

And, in fact, that's what the President's group of scientists came back with in their safety report. So we embrace those safety changes that were recommended that most of the industry is already using; but another thing that the President's commission said was the majority of those members said they oppose this moratorium on drilling, and they did it for a number of reasons, but one of the things they point out that's been interesting and hasn't been talked about in this whole debate is, it's not just all the loss of jobs, because there's a tremendous loss of jobs, over 40,000 good, high-paying jobs in Louisiana alone, and I know in Texas it's an even bigger number.

But they point out, the scientists the President appointed said that it would actually reduce safety in the Gulf of Mexico by having a moratorium. Whereas, the Secretary of the Interior tries to call it a pause, he says, we'll just do a 6-month pause, and if there's some magical pause button you can press and then take your hand off 6-months later and the industry magically reappears. The industry will not magically reappear.

What's already happening today is companies are leaving the Gulf of Mexico to go to foreign countries: Brazil, West Africa, many other nations that are competing for these very scarce resources. You have 33 deep water rigs, many of these are assets of half a billion to a billion dollars each, and their operating costs are half a million dollars a day to a million dollars a day. They can't just afford to sit idle.

So what they're doing is they are starting to lay off employees, starting to move to foreign countries, and what that does, number one, it makes our country less safe because it reduces America's energy independence. Our demand for oil in this country hasn't dropped, and I want to support all the alternatives in wind and solar and nuclear, everything, all of the above, but in the meantime our demand in this country hasn't dropped for oil. And so as we reduce the supply by maybe 20 percent, that means we're importing more oil from foreign countries who don't like us.

And how does that oil get here? It doesn't magically appear. It has to come in from supertankers and these big barges that bring in the oil, and 70 percent of all spills of oil come from tankers, not from the drilling. So you have actually increased the likelihood of spills.

But the other side of that is why you also reduce safety is your most experienced crews, your most safe and technologically advanced rigs are the ones that leave first. So you lose your rigs, you lose the experience of those 10- to 20-year employees, people that understand drilling better than anybody in the world. They're not going to sit around idle for 6 months collecting unemployment as the President suggested. They're going to go find work somewhere else, maybe they're going to go to these other countries and so we lose all of that experience. And if you then 6 months later remove your hand from some mysterious pause button, you don't have an industry left and we don't have any experience left; and if you start drilling, you're doing it with people without experience, without those new rigs.

So it poses tremendous damage, not only economically for the jobs lost, but it also poses safety challenges and safety problems by having this pause, as the President calls it, on drilling. It's a horrible policy. It is making our country less energy secure, and it's creating a bigger dependence on Middle Eastern oil

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Mr. SCALISE. It's correct that there is not a final report. There are a lot of groups out there doing investigations. The Federal Government is, private institutions are, a lot of different investigations are going on as there should be. But we know many of the things that caused the problems on that rig on the Transocean-BP Horizon, and in fact, they were preventable. And that's the sad part of this is that this was a preventable disaster; and if you look at what the companies do that are in deeper waters, that don't have the safety problems BP had, it's because they do things the right way, a much safer way, and that's what we should be following.

We should go and look to what the President's own safety commission came back with. Unfortunately, the President, when he got that 30-day report back from his scientists and engineers, it didn't give him I guess the results he wanted. It didn't suggest a moratorium, and he just wanted to do one anyway. So he threw away the science and trumped science with politics, and that's a sad state of affairs for our country to be in where we're ignoring science that actually recommends the right way to go for safety, and the President chose a path for a less safe approach that actually throws jobs away and makes our country more dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

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