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Public Statements

Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FLEMING. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Louisiana is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FLEMING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I hail from Louisiana, which of course is a very big part of what this section 121 is about and certainly what the amendment is about. Just bringing everyone back, we had the Deepwater Horizon spill, which was a tragic situation which has hurt Louisiana in several ways, one being, of course, oil in the water. That's obvious. But then, of course, the many jobs that have been lost.

Going back over history, what we found is that in response to this the President brought together 10 experts to determine whether or not drilling should be stopped in deep water off the shores of Louisiana--in the Gulf of Mexico, in fact. This board of experts came together and said, no, that should not happen. We should continue forward. We can solve this problem. We can prevent it from happening. Nonetheless, the President came out and said, no, let's shut down drilling.

Well, when that didn't work, the President and Secretary Salazar slapped a moratorium on drilling. Then there were lawsuits. Then we had a de facto moratorium. Then we had a permitorium after there was a stay placed by a judge. Today, we have what I would call a ``slowitorium'' on permits and leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.

So it's very clear what's going on is the fact that even though the administration can't get the courts to stop drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even though the other side can't advance legislation, they're trying to do it administratively by slowing the process down. So all we ask, the people of Louisiana, is some transparency on this issue.

Section 121 does some very simple things. It just says the Secretary of the Interior shall log and track the specific reasons for BOEMRE returning to an applicant without approval any exploration plan, development and production plan, development operations, coordination document, or application, et cetera, et cetera.

We're getting reports continuously from drillers, from contractors who are out there trying to drill, that they put in applications. Weeks, months go by; they hear nothing. Finally, they get it back and an ``i'' was not dotted, so now they've got to start the process all over again.

So all we're asking is that integrity be brought back into this process, that there be accountability back into this process.

And the gentleman is absolutely right. We do want to get drilling back up in the Gulf of Mexico. We were at a peak of 1.7 million barrels a day before this incident. It has dropped now to 1.59 million barrels a day. And it's going to continue to drop because we have a process in which permits and leasing are still way off track. They're not back to the levels they were. And production is going to net down. As a result of that, we're going to continue to see oil and gas prices going up.

So despite what is coming out of the Secretary of the Interior, drilling and production is not up; it's down. And it's continuing down and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future until we get the permits and the leases back up.

I certainly suggest, Mr. Chairman, that my colleagues and I should oppose this amendment. We do need to have transparency and accountability in BOEMRE when it comes to offshore drilling.

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