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Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act. This important legislation brings together multiple domestic energy bills that seek to help jumpstart our economy, spur job creation, and reduce energy costs on families and small businesses.
Given our slow economic recovery and high unemployment, we ought to do everything within our powers to ease the burdens facing Americans. Instead, this Administration continues to push policies that stifle job creation and increase uncertainty. The failed policies of the last three and a half years have only made a bad situation worse. Why would we continue to go down a path that makes it harder and harder for American companies to compete in a competitive global market? Energy costs are a major factor for companies when they are considering building a new facility or moving operations overseas. Let's make that decision easy for them and work to keep energy costs low so a U.S. presence is more attractive.
Today, we have an opportunity to pass legislation that will help stimulate the economy, lower the costs on small businesses and put a few extra dollars in the pockets of hard working Americans. For too long, we have ignored the abundant resources here at home, leaving us at the mercy of OPEC and other unstable countries throughout the world. I found it amusing that earlier this year when gas prices rose to record levels, some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, these are the same individuals who are vehemently opposed to opening up production of oil and gas here in the U.S., were encouraging OPEC to increase oil production output. Why would we encourage OPEC to increase production, while doing everything in our power to severely limit production here at home?
Additionally, I am pleased that this legislation makes an attempt to reduce the abuse of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to score short term political points by tying the release of oil to opening up federal lands for oil and gas production. Also, this legislation takes important steps to streamline the permitting process for all energy sources, increase transparency and accountability on EPA regulations, and provide for greater lease certainty.
It is important for everyone to understand that currently only three percent of federal land is leased for oil and gas development. Given the instability in the Middle East, we must make it a priority to explore and develop our own natural resources. This doesn't mean that this has to come at the expense of our environment. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has identified 351 energy projects that have been stalled by ``not in my backyard'' suits, regulatory red tape, and endless challenges from environmentalists. What many may not realize is that almost half of these projects were for renewable energy projects. So this is not just an obstacle the oil and gas industry is facing. I am confident that we can find a way to ensure the protection of our environment while developing energy resources here at home, and this legislation is a step forward to make that possible.
It is time we put Americans back to work, and this legislation will go a long way to encourage economic growth, decrease our nation's dependence on foreign sources of oil, and reduce the costs on hard working Americans. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
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