U.S. Congressman Dan Boren joined Congressmen Bill Flores (R-Texas), Charles Boustany (R-La), and Gene Green (D-Texas) to introduce legislation this week calling for expanded and expedited domestic energy production in light of the recent spike in U.S. gas prices and the growing uncertainty and unrest in the Middle East. A House companion bill to one filed by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) yesterday, the Lease Extension and Secure Energy (LEASE) Act of 2011, extends all oil and gas exploration leases in the Gulf of Mexico that were impacted by the U.S. Department of Interior's drilling moratorium for an additional 12 months, restoring lost time, protecting American jobs and increasing energy security.
In the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon accident, the Department of the Interior immediately halted all deep-water exploration and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico -- including seismic and drilling operations. Since the moratorium has been lifted, only a few deepwater permits have been approved, while 33 lease holders that were conducting exploration drilling and thousands of lease holders that were in earlier stages of exploration still hang in the balance.
"It is unacceptable for rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to sit idle as working Americans struggle under the pressure of $4 per gallon gas. This legislation is an important step in addressing this crisis level situation. In the past year, the Department of Interior has continued with its "permitorium" policy which is killing American jobs and hurting working families at the local gas pump. I applaud Mr. Flores and Mr. Boustany for introducing this bipartisan piece of legislation and I am happy to lead this effort on the Democratic side of the aisle." said Congressman Boren.
"The Obama Administration has continued to block and delay domestic energy production, increasing uncertainty in the marketplace, destroying American jobs and driving up gas prices at a time when Americans can least afford it," said Congressman Flores. "Taxpayers own vast amounts of energy resources both on our public lands and off our coasts, and we desperately need the stability that comes from unlocking access and tapping into these American energy resources. Every developed economy in the world looks to their own resources to fuel their growth while this Administration views our domestic energy resources as a liability. The LEASE Act will help to bring down gas prices, increase domestic production and protect and create American jobs. This is the first step to finally putting our country on the path to energy independence."
"There is an urgency now more than ever to get American energy production up and running again," said Congressman Boustany. "Oil prices are skyrocketing, Americans are feeling the pressure at the pump, and the Administration continues to delay production. These lease extensions allow exploration operations to continue without further delay."
"As new offshore drilling permits still slowly trickle from BOEMRE, it's important that we extend oil and gas leases that haven't been in production first because of the moratorium and now as they try to receive guidance from the Department of Interior on applying new environmental and safety regulations," said Congressman Green. "This production is vital to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and is integral to countless livelihoods dependent on the Gulf energy economy."