OFFSHORE PRODUCTION AND SAFETY ACT OF 2011--MOTION TO PROCEED
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Mr. MANCHIN. Mr. President, I rise this afternoon to address the Offshore Production and Safety Act. It is legislation that attempts to address the regulation and the critical need to drill for oil in this country.
Let me tell you, I understand the frustration from my colleagues who are upset about the bureaucratic agencies that really do not understand the urgent need to review permits in a timely and responsible manner. Mining in West Virginia has long been a direct target of the EPA and these unfair regulatory practices they have practiced for far too long. For example, in May of 2009, the EPA had a permit backlog of 235 applications. Two-thirds of them were already deemed complete for final processing by the Army Corps of Engineers. Clearly, there is a problem. The question is, Is this legislation the right solution?
The truth is, I would love to sink my teeth in and vote for this measure, but I simply cannot. I do not believe this legislation strikes the right commonsense balance among our energy demands, responsible regulation, our economy, and the environment. In fact, the unintended consequence of this legislation is that it could make regulatory agencies more powerful and more Draconian--a fact that would actually hurt the drilling, the energy independence we could gain, and the businesses' and our need to achieve energy independence.
Quite simply, if we place a fixed 30-day deadline on these permits with two 15-day extensions, I believe we would see more permits denied than we would see processed. How does this make sense? It would create a perverse effect
that could encourage government bureaucrats to stop any and all permits, and that would be a terrible outcome.
The fact is, neither the legislation we will vote on today nor the legislation we voted on yesterday addresses the bigger issue that our Nation must declare its independence from foreign oil. We can only do that by developing a true national plan for energy independence.
I have come to this floor many times to urge my Republican and Democratic colleagues to work with me to put together an energy plan that works for all of America. In fact, just last week, I came here to address the importance of expanded domestic drilling. I truly believe this Nation needs to develop all of our domestic resources, whether it is drilling for oil or natural gas, mining coal, producing wind and solar, developing better nuclear, biomass, or geothermal so that we can declare our energy independence within a generation. But in developing and pursuing a national energy plan, we cannot lose sight of our commonsense values and our priorities.
This bill falls short of those commonsense priorities, but I assure my colleagues that I will work with any Senator from either party who will try to create a national energy policy that will truly help the Nation achieve energy independence.
I thank all of my colleagues, and I hope we will be able to work together to move this Nation forward for true energy independence.
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