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Mr. Speaker, the Republicans act as if they're trying to help the consumer with this legislation. But all they're really doing is helping Big Oil--bigger profits, bigger tax breaks. I mean, the first quarter earnings for the oil companies were bigger than ever, billions of dollars in profits. Even BP, even after the disaster a year ago, was still making huge profits; and, of course, we've got about $4 billion in tax breaks that the Republicans continue to give to the oil companies.
No more oil is going to be brought to market because of this legislation. As my colleague from Massachusetts said, we're talking years before any oil could be brought to market. And at the same time, we have the huge environmental risks.
The fact of the matter is that the BP oil spill a year ago showed us the environment risks that are involved with deepwater drilling. And there was a bipartisan commission that was put forward; Democrat and Republican testified before the Natural Resources Committee that I serve on. But no Republican effort is being made to implement those recommendations and say, okay, we need to do certain things before we can do offshore drilling in these deepwater areas. Nothing at all. So when you open up these areas under this legislation to new drilling, you're just inviting another BP-type spill because nothing is being done by the Republicans to prevent it.
Now, I would point out there are all kinds of leases out there now, on land, offshore, that the oil companies can drill and they're not doing it. They're just stockpiling them. There's more oil production that's been put forward in the last year or so under President Obama than ever before. So we're producing oil. No one is saying that you can't drill in the areas that are already leased. And there's more production. All we're saying is, why in the world are you risking these areas that now we know, after the BP spill, shouldn't be put into production when you've got all kinds of other opportunities out there?
Now, I offered an amendment. The chairman of the Rules Committee said that we were going to allow a lot of amendments. Well, they didn't allow my amendment; and my amendment simply said that the Atlantic coast for the next 5 years under the President's plan is off-limits because of what happened with BP and that we should keep that in place. But my amendment was not allowed in order.
What the President has done and what all of us are saying here is, in the aftermath of the BP spill, there are certain areas that shouldn't be allowed offshore production and in which the leases shouldn't go out. We learned from the BP spill that these areas should be off-limits because we are concerned about the environmental risks.
In my case in the State of New Jersey, we're talking about billions and billions of dollars in tourism related to the shore that would be put at risk if we had another oil spill. That's where the jobs are. Tourism is the number one industry in the State of New Jersey. Up and down the Atlantic coast, tourism is a huge business. It creates all kinds of jobs. What minimal jobs will be created by allowing these areas to be put out to lease and by allowing the drilling compared to the risk of the jobs that would be destroyed?
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