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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Chair, I rise today to debate my amendment No. 27 to H.R. 4480, the ``Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012,'' which would establish an Office of Energy Employment and Training, as well as, an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion that would be responsible for all matters relating to diversity in management, employment, and business activities.

As well as establishing an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion for the purpose of addressing the need for diversity within the DOI and within the pool of businesses that the DOI engages.

Texas serves as proof that the energy industry offers tremendous potential to provide jobs and foster economic growth. As a matter of fact, in 2008, Texas was one of the few States that saw its economy grow; grossing the second highest revenue of all States at $1.2 trillion.

As the Representative of the 18th Congressional District of Houston, Texas, I can attest to the importance of a healthy energy industry. My district is the energy hub of Texas and is recognized worldwide for its energy industry, particularly for oil and natural gas, as well as biomedical research and aeronautics. Renewable energy sources--wind and solar--are also growing economic bases in Houston.

The energy industry and its supporting businesses provide my fellow Texans with tens of thousands of jobs, and have helped keep the State of Texas significantly below the national unemployment rate.

This prosperity can expand well beyond Texas, if the Federal and State governments will act decisively and responsibly to expand domestic energy productions in an environmentally conscious manner, and keep billions of dollars and countless jobs here at home. However I must place emphasis on the need to act both decisively and responsibly. It remains to be seen whether this bill truly accomplishes those goals. My amendment is designed to address the need for training and diversity in the Energy sector.

AMENDMENT NO. 27

My amendment recognizes the importance of developing a diverse and highly skilled technical workforce within the Department of Interior.

The Department of Interior reviews permits, and examines lease sales. Further, the DOT is responsible for ensuring that each application meets the highest safety standards.

We should be focused on providing the Department of Interior with trained technical engineers and other such necessary personnel to review drilling permit applications both carefully and thoroughly.

Given the aftermath of the BP Oil spill, it is easy to understand the importance of addressing all safety concerns prior to the issuance of oil and gas lease sales.

Since the disaster federal safety regulations have been tightened, spill containment response capability has been enhanced and lessons have been learned.

These lessons must be understood by everyone involved in reviewing and approving each and every application for permits and lease sales.

Responsible onshore drilling includes having our best minds working to carefully and diligently review each application. This amendment is intended to include both women and minorities in the process.

This amendment is designed to ensure that DOT is able to recruit, retain and train skilled professionals, many of whom require a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) backgrounds. The DOT will be encouraged to reach out to high school students, college students, and professional.

My Amendment establishes an Office of Energy Employment and Training which will oversee the efforts of the Department of Interior's energy planning, permitting, and regulatory actives related to this Act.

This Office will be responsible for issuing quarterly reports to the Secretary which will include the amount of jobs created by the DOT, as well as, reporting the types of job training programs that have been implemented or proposed.

This amendment also addresses the need to encourage diversity within the Department of Interior. By creating an the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion which is specifically designed to encourage diversity by reaching out to both women and minorities.

Specifically the DOT will have a Director appointed by the Secretary of the Interior who will develop clear standards for equal employment opportunities and will address the need for increased racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at both the junior and senior management levels of the Department.

This amendment would require the DOT to take affirmative steps to seek diversity in the workforce of the Department at all levels of the Department.

These steps would include recruiting at historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-service institutions, and women's colleges and other majority minority service institutions. The Department will be able to find qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds if they expand the pool of candidates from which they select candidates.

The DOT would be required to sponsor job fairs in urban communities and partner with organization that are focused on developing opportunities for both minorities and women in the energy industry.

Again, it is the job of the Department of the Interior to ensure that all lease sales meet the highest reasonable standards for safety. This amendment is meant to include encourage and ensure that women and minorities have a fair opportunity to participate in making these types of decisions the DOI.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting my Amendment No. 27 to H.R. 4480.

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