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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LAMBORN. Well, I respect the relationship that I have with my friend and colleague from New Jersey. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Holt is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. I appreciate the fact that he came to Denver recently for a field hearing that the subcommittee had on hydraulic fracking.

So I do appreciate the work he does on the subcommittee, but I have to disagree with him on this amendment. And I would urge opposition to this amendment.

It's identical to one that failed on this House floor by a bipartisan vote earlier this year in February. And I have to remind my friend and colleague that this issue has been repeatedly settled in the Nation's courts of law with the courts determining that rewriting the terms of these leases to include price thresholds, which the Clinton administration apparently forgot to include in the leases, would be a direct violation of contract law.

Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Department of the Interior did not have the authority to rewrite these contracts that were issued during the Clinton administration under the 1995 law. And I will also remind the gentleman that the Department of the Interior has lost this issue in the district court, appellate court, and the Supreme Court.

If this amendment passed, the issue would most certainly be challenged once again in court, where the Department would use taxpayer dollars to lose again.

Ultimately, this amendment seeks to force U.S. companies to break a contract negotiated under then-current government law or else be denied the opportunity to do business in the United States. The amendment aims to back companies into a corner and attempts to force them to break a legally binding contract.

Again, this amendment has failed on the House floor before, and I would urge continued opposition and a ``no'' vote.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I would urge opposition once again to this amendment, as we have done before in the House, and I would urge a ``no'' vote.

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Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out to my colleague, Representative Markey, that this administration has not yet seen the completion of a single wind tower off the shore of the United States in over 3 years. Not a single one. This is a sincere and genuine attempt to cut through some of the red tape that's causing this kind of delay. How in the world can you have less red tape being bad for the construction of wind towers? This is truly a good solution. I applaud this legislation.

Representative Wittman has offered a bill that embodies the same concept that passed the committee by a bipartisan vote earlier this year. This is a good bill, a good amendment from that bill, and I would urge its adoption.

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Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, we are prepared to accept this amendment.

Native Hawaiian homelands are not managed as tribal lands by the Federal Government, which is why they were not included in the underlying legislation. However, Hawaiian homelands can provide another great source for domestic energy development; therefore, we are prepared to accept this amendment.

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Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, I do oppose this amendment.

The legislation we're looking at today, H.R. 4480, aims to reduce bureaucracy and ensure much needed certainty to allow energy production and job creation to move forward. It will give permit applicants assurance that their permits will be processed by the government in a timely fashion and ensure that needless bureaucratic delays are not hampering energy production as they are sometimes today.

The Department of the Interior is plagued with delays in permitting energy projects on Federal lands. These delays result in developers abandoning Federal lands to develop energy only on private land. This hinders the creation of thousands of American jobs. This legislation simply requires that a decision on a drilling permit be made. It does not require an approval, but simply a decision. The government must answer ``yes'' or ``no.'' It's not acceptable for the government to stall, drag its feet, or even not respond.

These are decisions that State agencies are making in days, while the BLM is taking months. This amendment, however, would delete this deadline for the government to provide an answer. Under this amendment, the Federal Government could literally take forever to respond. A deadline is absolutely necessary to give energy producers the confidence they need to seek out Federal land for development rather than seeking to exclusively develop on private land.

An identical amendment to the one offered by the gentlewoman from California failed during the Natural Resources Committee markup, and it failed on a bipartisan vote. So I would ask for the same response here, that we vote this amendment down. I urge its opposition.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LAMBORN. I rise to oppose this amendment, reluctantly. I understand the gentlewoman's intentions of this amendment, and portions of this idea have strong merit.

Let there be no doubt that the Department of the Interior can do a better job of both hiring and contracting in these areas, but this debate today isn't the most appropriate place for us to consider these particular reforms.

Every provision in this legislation has been carefully vetted through the legislative process. The House Natural Resources and Energy and Commerce Committees have both held oversight and legislative hearings and committee markups on the underlying legislation.

This subject, while it is something definitely worth considering, has not had this level of review under the legislative process and would insert a major programmatic and bureaucratic change in a simple bill that is geared toward expanding American energy production and jobs. Also, as currently drafted, the proposal is over 12 pages long and would add significant new Federal bureaucracy.

If the gentlewoman is willing to withdraw her amendment, I will commit the Natural Resources Committee to work with her to address this subject, and if she will not withdraw, then I must reluctantly oppose this amendment.

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