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Public Statements

Opposing Pioneers Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the so-called PIONEERS Act that, among other things, repeals the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA.

It's hard to believe that the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are already being forgotten, less than 2 years after almost 5 million barrels of oil flowed out into the ocean and devastated the gulf region's environment and economy.

Through this horrible tragedy, we learned firsthand the dangers of drilling at extreme ocean depths and the difficulties in stopping a spill once it occurs. We also learned the dangers posed by the powerful Gulf of Mexico loop currents in the eastern gulf. These loop currents are capable of transporting spilled petroleum into the Florida Straits, through the Florida Keys, and onto shorelines up the Atlantic side of my home State, endangering hundreds of miles of coastline in Florida, and beyond up the east coast.

We were extremely lucky that more of Florida was not affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 and that the site of the spill was not within these normally-occurring loop currents. Allowing drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would place leasing directly within the strong loop current and is the height of folly.

Even if we didn't have such a powerful precautionary tale as the Deepwater Horizon accident, drilling near Florida's coast simply doesn't add up. Florida's $65 billion tourism industry relies on pristine beaches. Florida is also home to 85 percent of the United States' coral reefs, which are profoundly sensitive to oil spills.

Coastal resources like mangroves and sea grasses would also be put in harm's way, as well as Florida's vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries. That is why so many bipartisan members of Florida's congressional delegation have lined up in opposing drilling near our shores. In fact, a few weeks ago, Congressman John Mica held a field hearing in Miami to discuss the dangers of offshore drilling by Cuba that is within 100 miles of Florida's shores. The Florida Lieutenant Governor--a Republican--Jennifer Carroll stated at the hearing that:

The Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 has shown that a spill that poses even a potential of impacting Florida's water or land causes a huge negative impact on the economy.

I could not have said it better myself. This is why we simply should not allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

I would welcome a debate weighing the harms against the benefits of expanding offshore exploration off Florida's coastline if the benefits were comparable to the risks, but they're not--not even close. Expanding drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico would not lower gas prices or produce enough oil to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In short, opening the eastern Gulf of Mexico is not the answer to our energy concerns. If we are serious about weaning our dependence on foreign oil, we need to continue the clean energy policies of the Obama administration and efforts in recent years by Congress. We have more domestic oil production today, right now, than we have ever had. For example, the 2007 bipartisan effort to increase the fuel efficiency of cars over the next decade will have a profound effect on the demand side of the supply-demand equation.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that by 2020 the new auto fuel standards will save consumers $65 billion in fuel costs by cutting consumption by 1.3 million barrels a day--more than could be produced in the eastern gulf in an entire year.

Finally, a little history lesson on the 2006 law that this bill will repeal. In 2006, Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress enacted GOMESA, which opened 8 million acres for new oil drilling leases off Florida's panhandle in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In exchange, the 2006 law placed the rest of the eastern gulf under a statutory moratorium until 2022. That agreement should be honored, not tossed aside less than 6 years later.

Our word must be our bond, or negotiations and handshakes are rendered meaningless. In my 19-year legislative career, your word being your bond was always supposed to be paramount. In this case, apparently there are some Members of the Republican leadership that don't believe that and are willing to cast it aside.

Beyond the economic and environmental reasons for honoring the 2006 deal, protecting our military training areas is also important. The military uses the eastern Gulf of Mexico for training operations, and the Pentagon has said that drilling structures and associated development are incompatible with military activities, like missile flights, low-flying drone aircraft, and training. For this reason, the Pentagon has long opposed expanding offshore drilling in the eastern gulf.

The 2006 law incorporates an agreement between the Department of the Interior and the Defense Department to set aside waters east of the ``military mission line'' to preserve military readiness. On behalf of Florida's tourism industries, fishing industries, and on behalf of the needs of the Defense Department and in the name of military readiness, I urge my colleagues to remove this terrible provision from this legislation.

To add insult to injury, it is unconscionable that House leadership has refused to even allow a vote on a bipartisan ameMs. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the so-called PIONEERS Act that, among other things, repeals the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA.

It's hard to believe that the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are already being forgotten, less than 2 years after almost 5 million barrels of oil flowed out into the ocean and devastated the gulf region's environment and economy.

Through this horrible tragedy, we learned firsthand the dangers of drilling at extreme ocean depths and the difficulties in stopping a spill once it occurs. We also learned the dangers posed by the powerful Gulf of Mexico loop currents in the eastern gulf. These loop currents are capable of transporting spilled petroleum into the Florida Straits, through the Florida Keys, and onto shorelines up the Atlantic side of my home State, endangering hundreds of miles of coastline in Florida, and beyond up the east coast.

We were extremely lucky that more of Florida was not affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 and that the site of the spill was not within these normally-occurring loop currents. Allowing drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would place leasing directly within the strong loop current and is the height of folly.

Even if we didn't have such a powerful precautionary tale as the Deepwater Horizon accident, drilling near Florida's coast simply doesn't add up. Florida's $65 billion tourism industry relies on pristine beaches. Florida is also home to 85 percent of the United States' coral reefs, which are profoundly sensitive to oil spills.

Coastal resources like mangroves and sea grasses would also be put in harm's way, as well as Florida's vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries. That is why so many bipartisan members of Florida's congressional delegation have lined up in opposing drilling near our shores. In fact, a few weeks ago, Congressman John Mica held a field hearing in Miami to discuss the dangers of offshore drilling by Cuba that is within 100 miles of Florida's shores. The Florida Lieutenant Governor--a Republican--Jennifer Carroll stated at the hearing that:

The Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 has shown that a spill that poses even a potential of impacting Florida's water or land causes a huge negative impact on the economy.

I could not have said it better myself. This is why we simply should not allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

I would welcome a debate weighing the harms against the benefits of expanding offshore exploration off Florida's coastline if the benefits were comparable to the risks, but they're not--not even close. Expanding drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico would not lower gas prices or produce enough oil to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In short, opening the eastern Gulf of Mexico is not the answer to our energy concerns. If we are serious about weaning our dependence on foreign oil, we need to continue the clean energy policies of the Obama administration and efforts in recent years by Congress. We have more domestic oil production today, right now, than we have ever had. For example, the 2007 bipartisan effort to increase the fuel efficiency of cars over the next decade will have a profound effect on the demand side of the supply-demand equation.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that by 2020 the new auto fuel standards will save consumers $65 billion in fuel costs by cutting consumption by 1.3 million barrels a day--more than could be produced in the eastern gulf in an entire year.

Finally, a little history lesson on the 2006 law that this bill will repeal. In 2006, Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress enacted GOMESA, which opened 8 million acres for new oil drilling leases off Florida's panhandle in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In exchange, the 2006 law placed the rest of the eastern gulf under a statutory moratorium until 2022. That agreement should be honored, not tossed aside less than 6 years later.

Our word must be our bond, or negotiations and handshakes are rendered meaningless. In my 19-year legislative career, your word being your bond was always supposed to be paramount. In this case, apparently there are some Members of the Republican leadership that don't believe that and are willing to cast it aside.

Beyond the economic and environmental reasons for honoring the 2006 deal, protecting our military training areas is also important. The military uses the eastern Gulf of Mexico for training operations, and the Pentagon has said that drilling structures and associated devMs. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the so-called PIONEERS Act that, among other things, repeals the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA.

It's hard to believe that the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are already being forgotten, less than 2 years after almost 5 million barrels of oil flowed out into the ocean and devastated the gulf region's environment and economy.

Through this horrible tragedy, we learned firsthand the dangers of drilling at extreme ocean depths and the difficulties in stopping a spill once it occurs. We also learned the dangers posed by the powerful Gulf of Mexico loop currents in the eastern gulf. These loop currents are capable of transporting spilled petroleum into the Florida Straits, through the Florida Keys, and onto shorelines up the Atlantic side of my home State, endangering hundreds of miles of coastline in Florida, and beyond up the east coast.

We were extremely lucky that more of Florida was not affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 and that the site of the spill was not within these normally-occurring loop currents. Allowing drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would place leasing directly within the strong loop current and is the height of folly.

Even if we didn't have such a powerful precautionary tale as the Deepwater Horizon accident, drilling near Florida's coast simply doesn't add up. Florida's $65 billion tourism industry relies on pristine beaches. Florida is also home to 85 percent of the United States' coral reefs, which are profoundly sensitive to oil spills.

Coastal resources like mangroves and sea grasses would also be put in harm's way, as well as Florida's vibrant commercial and recreational fishing industries. That is why so many bipartisan members of Florida's congressional delegation have lined up in opposing drilling near our shores. In fact, a few weeks ago, Congressman John Mica held a field hearing in Miami to discuss the dangers of offshore drilling by Cuba that is within 100 miles of Florida's shores. The Florida Lieutenant Governor--a Republican--Jennifer Carroll stated at the hearing that:

The Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 has shown that a spill that poses even a potential of impacting Florida's water or land causes a huge negative impact on the economy.

I could not have said it better myself. This is why we simply should not allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

I would welcome a debate weighing the harms against the benefits of expanding offshore exploration off Florida's coastline if the benefits were comparable to the risks, but they're not--not even close. Expanding drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico would not lower gas prices or produce enough oil to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

In short, opening the eastern Gulf of Mexico is not the answer to our energy concerns. If we are serious about weaning our dependence on foreign oil, we need to continue the clean energy policies of the Obama administration and efforts in recent years by Congress. We have more domestic oil production today, right now, than we have ever had. For example, the 2007 bipartisan effort to increase the fuel efficiency of cars over the next decade will have a profound effect on the demand side of the supply-demand equation.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that by 2020 the new auto fuel standards will save consumers $65 billion in fuel costs by cutting consumption by 1.3 million barrels a day--more than could be produced in the eastern gulf in an entire year.

Finally, a little history lesson on the 2006 law that this bill will repeal. In 2006, Republican leadership in both Houses of Congress enacted GOMESA, which opened 8 million acres for new oil drilling leases off Florida's panhandle in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In exchange, the 2006 law placed the rest of the eastern gulf under a statutory moratorium until 2022. That agreement should be honored, not tossed aside less than 6 years later.

Our word must be our bond, or negotiations and handshakes are rendered meaningless. In my 19-year legislative career, your word being your bond was always supposed to be paramount. In this case, apparently there are some Members of the Republican leadership that don't believe that and are willing to cast it aside.

Beyond the economic and environmental reasons for honoring the 2006 deal, protecting our military training areas is also important. The military uses the eastern Gulf of Mexico for training operations, and the Pentagon has said that drilling structures and associated development are incompatible with military activities, like missile flights, low-flying drone aircraft, and training. For this reason, the Pentagon has long opposed expanding offshore drilling in the eastern gulf.

The 2006 law incorporates an agreement between the Department of the Interior and the Defense Department to set aside waters east of the ``military mission line'' to preserve military readiness. On behalf of Florida's tourism industries, fishing industries, and on behalf of the needs of the Defense Department and in the name of military readiness, I urge my colleagues to remove this terrible provision from this legislation.

To add insult to injury, it is unconscionable that House leadership has refused to even allow a vote on a bipartisan amendment that I cosponsored with my Florida colleagues that would have stripped out the GOMESA repeal. If they had the courage of their conviction, they would allow a fair and open debate on this. But when you don't have much to back up your argument, you can't allow a fair fight.

elopment are incompatible with military activities, like missile flights, low-flying drone aircraft, and training. For this reason, the Pentagon has long opposed expanding offshore drilling in the eastern gulf.

The 2006 law incorporates an agreement between the Department of the Interior and the Defense Department to set aside waters east of the ``military mission line'' to preserve military readiness. On behalf of Florida's tourism industries, fishing industries, and on behalf of the needs of the Defense Department and in the name of military readiness, I urge my colleagues to remove this terrible provision from this legislation.

To add insult to injury, it is unconscionable that House leadership has refused to even allow a vote on a bipartisan amendment that I cosponsored with my Florida colleagues that would have stripped out the GOMESA repeal. If they had the courage of their conviction, they would allow a fair and open debate on this. But when you don't have much to back up your argument, you can't allow a fair fight.

ndment that I cosponsored with my Florida colleagues that would have stripped out the GOMESA repeal. If they had the courage of their conviction, they would allow a fair and open debate on this. But when you don't have much to back up your argument, you can't allow a fair fight.


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