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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I thank my friend from Massachusetts, and I thank him for laying out so clearly all the shortcomings of this legislation, this oil-above-all legislation. It really is nothing but a big giveaway to Big Oil.

The only jobs it will create will be in the boardrooms and the executive offices of the Big Oil companies because, since 2005, even as ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell have made more than $650 billion in profits--need I repeat that? $650 billion in profits--they eliminated more than 11,000 jobs, U.S. jobs, American jobs. And this is even while wind and solar were creating 50,000 jobs.

Yes, there's a mismatch here. The bill before us presented by the Republicans says we'll study to see how much solar and wind energy might come from these lands in the future instead of saying let's get these energy sources of the 21st century rolling in these lands. It's not a plan of what we might get. The Markey amendment would have set standards for what we would get.

Now, the Republicans have a long record of protecting tax breaks for Big Oil while cutting clean energy initiatives. That's what we see here.

But what I wanted to talk about is the damage that would be done under this legislation. Health officials today here in Washington are warning people to avoid the heat and stay indoors. I don't think they had in mind that we stay indoors to pass legislation that chokes off public health protections, that modifies the Clean Air Act to make it ineffective, and yet that's what this bill does.

By rejecting clean energy and pushing only for more fossil fuels to blanket the world with heat-trapping pollution, the Republican majority is essentially turning off the world's air conditioner and turning on the heater.

There is a reason that the term ``fossil fuels'' applies--actually, two reasons. One is that these are derived from ancient plants that have decayed deep in the Earth and have produced petroleum. But there is another reason. ``Fossil'' means ``archaic.'' ``Fossil'' means ``out of date.'' ``Fossil'' does not mean ``21st century.''

Yet that's where this legislation is taking us--in the wrong direction and in the wrong direction with regard to environmental protection.

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we shouldn't be playing games with safety and the environment. The spill exposed a woefully inadequate environmental review process that was done prior to the oil and gas leasing. The environmental review done prior to the BP spill was so sloppy that response plans talked about protecting walruses. Obviously, they were just, in an unthinking way, using old Alaska pages.

Tourism is the lifeblood of so many of our coastal communities. As the economy is struggling to recover, we can't risk the kind of environmental damage that derails economic progress in these areas. We should understand the risks of drilling, and we should strengthen the protections, not weaken them. Furthermore, there will be damage done to the whole leasing process.

For my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are so worried that putting some real standards--some expecting of good performance from oil companies--would somehow interfere with their production, let me point out some good news. Today, the Interior Department announced the results of an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend.

According to the Interior Department, today's leases that were bid on today, which have some lease standards apply that require increasing rental rates and shorter lease terms--the very things that the folks on the other side of the aisle here say would be killers, would stop the drilling--were record-setting lease sales, bringing in $11.7 billion even with these new conditions for offshore drilling; and they're saying what works here offshore won't work on the lands that we are talking about in this legislation.

Now, I'll tell you what's a killer in this. A killer is the relaxing of the public health and environmental standards in the legislation. That's literally a killer.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, the bill before us tonight would elevate energy production above all other uses of public lands in, really, contradiction of the principles of multiple use under the Federal Land Management and Policy Act. This would be to the detriment of grazing, hunting, fishing, and other recreation activities. Yet the plan envisioned by the majority's bill does not even require that the Interior Department consider the tens of millions of acres of public lands that oil companies are just sitting on and not using.

Right now, oil companies have roughly 25 million acres of public land onshore on which they are not producing oil. Even worse, oil companies are not even beginning drilling activities on the vast majority of these nonproducing areas. In fact, last month the Interior Department released a new report which found that oil companies have nearly 21 million acres onshore under lease on which they have not even begun conducting exploration activities.

Well over half of the public lands that oil companies have under lease onshore are idle. They are warehousing these leases. They are sitting on these leases. My amendment would require that the Secretary reduce the number of nonproducing leases as part of the plan for energy development on public lands that would be established under the underlying bill.

Before we risk disrupting additional public lands, let's begin by getting the oil and gas industry to use the leases they have. It's simple: No seconds while your plate is still full. It's the height of cynicism that the industry would be squatting on these leases at the same time it is asking us to give them more land that belongs to the Americans.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, let me just repeat. Right now, the oil companies have 25 million acres of public land onshore on which they are not producing. They have 21 million acres of public land onshore under lease on which they are not even conducting exploration activities.

I rest my case.

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