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Public Statements

Job and Energy Permitting Act of 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2021, which undercuts Clean Air Act standards and would allow large oil companies to circumvent air pollution regulations. I strongly believe that America needs to ensure our energy security and reduce our dependence on imported oil, but this bill is not the way to accomplish this goal. I support safe and responsible resource extraction and further developing our renewable energy capacity. But energy independence will not be secured by curtailing the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act to protect the nation's air quality standards.

H.R. 2021 would severely limit the EPA's authority to protect human health and the environment. It would allow companies to waive permit reviews by the Environmental Review Board and would exempt them from requirements to use pollution control technologies, despite the ready availability of these technologies. Removing these controls would allow damaging pollutants to be released into the air, including nitrogen dioxide, particles, and sulfur dioxide, which would have significant health, environment, and climate impacts. The regulations to prevent this pollution are reasonable, commonsense provisions, yet this bill would undercut them, allowing widespread damage to human health and the environment for benefit of few wealthy companies. The health and environmental damage would be seen on all coasts where drilling takes place.

According to some estimates, Shell's proposed 2010 drilling plan for the Arctic alone would have released as much particulate matter as 825,000 additional cars on the roads, traveling 12,000 miles each. This is only a single company's plan for a single drilling location; the full ramifications of this bill across all companies and all regions would be immense and disastrous.

H.R. 2021 would also increase Federal court litigation, taking authority from local courts and giving it to the D.C. Court of Appeals. This replaces an established, inexpensive process for citizen challenges to government actions with a longer, more expensive review process by a court that may not be familiar with the local coastal and air quality conditions.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Federal policy should be more diligent than ever in pursuing safeguards and regulations that make sure that such costly, destructive events are made less frequent, rather than commonplace. Stripping out the environmental protections that we already have is irresponsible and it puts not only the Oregon coast, but communities from Alaska to California and from Maine to Florida at unnecessary risk. H.R. 2021 does nothing to secure a clean, safe path toward energy security. I oppose this legislation.

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Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy in permitting me to speak on this. I appreciate all my colleagues who represent the Oregon coast for bringing this forward. Now, my district may not actually touch the Oregon coast, but my constituents and I spend time there, value its beauty, the ecosystem, and the economic benefits it brings to the United States. The underlying bill could bring all of these at risk, allowing expedited drilling for offshore drilling, a process that is expedited for those who would drill, but a process that is much worse for citizens who may object.

We need to continue to respect the wishes of Oregonians to keep oil rigs off our shores, prohibiting sources from obtaining permits to drill off the coast of Oregon. This amendment is an appropriate safeguard to protect our coastal environment and communities.

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