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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

My colleagues, the short title of this bill, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, spells out the word D-E-J-A. But what we're seeing here is not just deja vu, the feeling that we've seen all these Big Oil giveaways before. No, this bill is a deja preview, a look ahead into what the Romney administration would do if elected and had a GOP House and Senate to fully implement the oil companies' legislative agenda and block all efforts to help clean energy.

There's been a lot of discussion of the DREAM Act recently, but the bill we have before us today is really the Big Oil dream act. This package represents everything Big Oil could ever possibly dream up to drill on our public lands and roll back public health protections.

As the world gathers in Rio de Janeiro right now to try to head off catastrophic global warming from the burning of fossil fuels, here we are in the House of Representatives looking for ways to give more benefits to fossil fuel industries.

And as America's wind and solar companies look to hire more American workers, here we are in the GOP-controlled House, where the Republican leadership refused to make my amendment in order to establish national goals for wind and solar, clean energy and energy efficiency. They won't even allow that debate to take place on the floor of the House of Representatives during what they say is the big energy debate for America. Can you imagine, it's 2012, we are having a big energy debate, big, big debate on the energy future of our country, and the words ``wind'' and ``solar'' are not going to be permitted by the Republicans to be out here on the House floor and being debated. And by the way, did I throw in biomass? Did I throw in geothermal? Did I throw in energy efficiency? They won't allow the words to be spoken. There's a gag order here, a big gag order by the Republicans. No debating that.

And then they have the temerity to call it an all-of-the-above bill. Oh, a comprehensive energy plan without wind, without solar, without geothermal, without biomass, without plug-in hybrids or energy efficiency debated out here because they have a gag order. They prohibit any debating of those issues on the House floor. And yet here they are, saying it's an all-of-the-above energy bill.

Great. Great. So fair. Fair and square. A real debate. Let all the Members decide what our energy future looks like.

But before the end of this year, the Republicans are allowing all of the tax breaks for the wind industry to expire. And what are they doing? They are actually going to continue the $4 billion a year that ExxonMobil and Chevron get. That's fair, huh? A gag order on even mentioning wind and solar out here as part of an amendment, a debate, $4 billion for the oil industry. And by the way, let's take a look at what's going on in oil production in the United States.

Oh, by the way, did you hear the news? It's now at an 18-year high. Obama, drill, baby, drill. Obama, what a great job. An 18-year high under Barack Obama, way better than George Bush. Way better. You have to go back to almost a time when a kid who's graduating from high school has no memory of. It's 18 years ago the last time there was this much oil drilling in the United States--Federal, State, private lands.

But if you listen to the Republicans, they're saying there's not enough breaks for ExxonMobil. No, no, no, we have to give them more. This poor, beleaguered company, and all of the other oil companies of the same size, they have been beleaguered as they are now at an 18-year peak in oil production in the United States. And you know who's beating them up--wind and solar, geothermal, biomass, plug-in hybrids. Very scary things to the Republican. So scary that because they control the Speakership, because they control the Rules Committee, we're not allowed to debate wind and solar. They're prohibiting it today. An absolute, all-out prohibition this week on the discussion of wind and solar. Huh?

When I asked to have an amendment be put in place that we could debate whether or not we had a national renewable electricity standard for the whole country, setting goals for what our country should have for wind and solar by the year 2020, you know what they said: No, we're gagging you. You can't have that debate out on the House floor. You can't even raise the words ``wind'' and ``solar.''

Yet they're going to keep coming out here saying we're for all of the above. All of the above that Exxon and Shell and BP want. Right on their list. And do you know where wind and solar are on the BP and ExxonMobil list? Oh, they just forgot to put it on their list. And that's what we get to debate out here, and it's going to be called an all-of-the-above energy future.

Well, let me tell you something--the American people deserve a lot better. They really do have a real sense that America has to be the leader in these new energy technologies. And President Obama has done his best or else we would not be at an 18-year high.

By the way, there are more oil rigs drilling in the United States for oil today--are you ready for this--than all of the other countries in the world combined. Barack Obama, drill, baby, drill. You are really doing the job. More oil rigs right here in the United States right now drilling than all the rest of the world combined.

But you're going to listen to these Republicans talk as though somehow or other, although ExxonMobil and BP and Shell are reporting the largest profits of any corporation in the history of the world, that they are being discriminated against.

What do ExxonMobil and BP expect? They expect there to be a gag applied out here on the floor so we cannot debate wind and solar, we cannot debate biomass and geothermal, we cannot debate energy efficiency. And yet we're supposed to sit over here in silence and listen to them say that they have an all-of-the-above energy strategy when we all know their entire strategy is oil above all--as a matter in fact, to exclude all else, exclude it, can't even debate it. They actually passed a rule here last night prohibiting us from debating wind and solar, from debating the future, from unleashing this technological revolution.

And why is that the case? I'll tell you why it's the case. Because in the last 5 years there have been 45,000 new megawatts of wind installed here in the United States. In this year, there will be 4,000 new megawatts of solar installed in the United States. Do you know who hates that? ExxonMobil hates that. Shell, BP, they hate it. Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, they hate it. They see this new clean energy future unfolding.

Out here on the floor of the House, as we debate the big energy bill here of 2012, I'm prohibited, as the senior Democrat, from bringing out an amendment that talks about wind and solar, that talks about geothermal and biomass, that talks about energy efficiency. I'm not allowed to bring it out here. So this is not an auspicious day for the United States Congress.

If there were any kernel of truth about Obama and his incredible work here, lifting us to an 18-year high in total oil production in the United States--by the way, since Bush left, since he left, we have dropped from being 57 percent dependent upon imported oil down to 45 percent dependent upon imported oil. Did Bush do that? No. Did Bush's father do that? No. Barack Obama did that, ladies and gentlemen. And what Barack Obama is saying, in addition to the dramatic decline in the amount of oil that we import from the Middle East, I would also like to add wind and solar and geothermal and biomass and energy efficiency. And they're saying, oh, no, it's already going too fast. This dependence thing is already happening much too fast for us.

And, by the way, this revolution in wind and solar and geothermal, people might start driving cars that are all electric and dependent upon wind and solar to give them the electricity so they don't even have to go into a gas station.

Do you know what they're really afraid of? They're afraid that what is going to happen to them is what happened to the typewriter, that in 20 years we went from everyone using a typewriter to everyone using a computer. People have to look into a history book to now find what a typewriter looks like. It only took 20 years. They can see this wind and solar revolution happening so fast that they're afraid that in 2030 a kid won't even know how to fill up a car with gasoline because they'll be plugging in the car at home with solar and wind-generated electricity. That's what they're most afraid of.

That's what this debate is really all about and that's why there's a gag on the Democrats, why we're not allowed to talk about wind and solar and geothermal and biomass and energy efficiency. Oh, I'm sorry, we're allowed to talk about it, we're just not allowed to have an amendment out here on the floor. We're just not allowed to put everyone on record as to where they stand on those issues. We're just not allowed to do that. You cannot have an amendment out here on the floor.

So this is the full extent of our ability to help those industries, those competitive industries, those Microsofts and Googles and eBays and Hulus and YouTubes of the energy industry get out there and reinvent the way in which we generate electricity here in our country. That's what this debate is really all about.

At this point, Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself 1 minute.

I thank the gentleman from Colorado.

Yes, what the Republicans are saying is, in their bill, that they want a study for 4 years of wind and solar. A study?

Well, maybe they should study the fact that it's very sunny in Florida. It's very windy out in the Midwest and, as a matter of fact, so sunny and so windy that there have been 45,000 megawatts of wind installed over the last 6 years in the United States, that there's going to be 4,000 new megawatts of solar installed in the United States just this year.

So maybe the Republicans should study the studies that are already out there, and maybe they could actually look over and ask the coal industry what they're thinking as they've dropped from 51 percent of all electrical generation down to 36 percent of all electrical generation in the last 5 years.

Maybe they're looking at the wind industry. Maybe they're looking at the solar industry. Maybe you could call them. But you don't have to wait 4 years, because all you want to do is study it. What we want to do is give the incentive for the wind and solar industry to continue their revolution.

I yield 5 minutes, if I may, Mr. Chairman, to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt), the ranking member of the subcommittee.

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Mr. MARKEY. I will yield myself 1 minute at this time.

I would just like to review, once again, the Republican ``all-of-the-above'' plan: One, light, sweet crude oil. Two, sour, high sulfur oil. Three, heavy oil. Four, tar sands oil. Five, oil shale. And oh, just to mix it up, a little natural gas. What they forgot was, of course, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. And they won't even allow us to have an amendment out here on the floor in order to have a debate over it.

But that ``oil above all'' agenda you have, it is very comprehensive, and I give you credit for figuring out every single way that we can help all the oil companies in the United States at the expense of all the renewable energy industries.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. At this time I yield myself 2 minutes.

You know, I hate giving all the bad news to the Republicans. But I'll give you some more bad news. You hate to hear it, but I will give it to you anyway.

In 2011, in terms of new electrical generation in the United States, 33 percent came from natural gas, 29 percent from wind, 20 percent from coal, and 8 percent from solar. Got that again? Wind and solar were about 37 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in the United States in the year 2011. But you guys want to study it. You want to have more information about this technology.

And by the way, in that study, you should also throw a few other things--a single device from which you can talk to your family, send emails, and watch videos. That's a concept some people have. You might want to study that as well. Oh, no, we already have that.

Sending a man to the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. Oh, I guess that's something else we already did. How about studying the possibility of mapping the entire human genome so we can have an idea of what material humanity is made out of, to kind of break a breakthrough. Oh, I think we've already done that. And there may be many other things that we can throw into that solar and wind study that we also don't need to have studied that you can also throw in there as part of your technological and scientific phobia that refuses to have you admit that things are already happening.

And by the way, something else you are refusing to admit that happened--during Bush's term as President, the production of oil went down, down, down, down from 2001 2008. Do you know what happened once Obama took over? Up, up, up, up. So much oil drilling, in fact, that all the rigs in the world combined are not matching what Obama has done in terms of total oil rigs out there. And we are now at an 18-year high in oil.

Maybe you should study this. Maybe this is hard for you to understand. I've heard all the Members out here saying that there is a jihad against oil being waged by the Obama administration. It just doesn't match any of the evidence.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. MARKEY. I will yield myself the balance of my time.

Let me just say that I know it's not anything that has been observed by the Republicans. But the price of gasoline has dropped for the last 11 weeks in a row, ever since the President threatened to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, because it was never about supply and demand. It was always about fear and greed. It was what Wall Street was doing and manipulating the price of oil and the commodities futures of the marketplace. It was about the fear that people had about a war in Iran breaking out.

But what's the response from the Republicans? Well, they have a brilliant amendment inside of their bill. What they say here is that if, God forbid, the Ayatollah ever attacked the United States, a Middle Eastern war ever broke out, and the President deployed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, 10 million barrels worth of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, you know what their bill says? That we, the Federal Government--if the Republican bill passes today--would then have to sell to ExxonMobil and the other Big Oil companies 200 million acres of Federal lands for ExxonMobil and the other Big Oil companies to drill on.

Understand that? That the Ayatollah attacks us, there's a war in the Middle East, and who do we have to pay the ransom to? To the Big Oil companies of the United States, if we deploy the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Now how nonsensical is that? That is an absolutely crazy idea, that the oil companies become the beneficiaries of a Middle Eastern conflict. They get the public lands of the United States, 200 million acres that we have to sell them simultaneously. It's almost a trigger that occurs inside of their legislation. That's how meshuggah this all is.

This is an absolutely crazy set of concepts, where we can't have an amendment on wind and solar, geothermal, biomass, plug-in hybrids, all new technologies and efficiency that back out the need for all this oil to ever come in in the first place. And as a penalty, the country will use this Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a weapon of our national security against OPEC, that if the President uses it, we have to sell 200 million acres of American land to the oil companies so that they can even drill for bargain basement prices here in the country.

This bill is absolutely the wrong recipe for our country as we head into the 21st century. I urge a ``no'' vote.

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Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim time in opposition to this amendment.

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Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, when manager's amendments making technical changes to legislation are presented, such amendments are accepted and we move on to amendments making substantive changes to the bill. In this instance, however, among the technical changes made by this manager's amendment is a controversial provision flatly overturning an EPA ruling in Alaska. This change should not be made at all, but it certainly should not be made as part of a manager's amendment.

As part of the review process for beginning energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, the EPA designated the Colville River, the largest Arctic river in Alaska, as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance. To be clear, this designation did not stop the proposed project. ConocoPhillips has already received approval to build a gravel road, including a bridge over the Colville to access their oil field. The National Importance designation simply required a heightened level of review before the project moved forward. For Congress to overturn this EPA finding through a provision buried in what is supposed to be a technical manager's amendment is not appropriate.

Mr. Chairman, I doubt a single Member of this House has an informed opinion regarding whether the Colville River is an Aquatic Resource of National Importance. But I will tell you who does have an informed position on that question, and that is the scientists in Alaska working for the Environmental Protection Agency.

This provision is an ill-informed sneak attack on an agency decision, and for the purposes of this debate, it has no place in a manager's amendment. It should be a stand-alone amendment that we're debating. Because of the inappropriateness of it being inside of the manager's amendment, I would have to oppose this provision.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself the balance of my time just to say that I don't have a problem in debating this issue, but I just think it should be done in an appropriate way. It is an important issue. It overturns an EPA decision of some significance and I urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman. This is just another example that Congress knows best. It is a Republican solution to everything. Let's not let the agency professionals do their jobs on a case-by-case basis. Let's have a one-size-fits-all, 3-day shot clock that we put on a request that could have significant impacts environmentally in areas.

And by the way, if the agency is not ready, they might just reject it on day two because there's not enough information, rather than having an orderly process that makes it possible for the agency to be able to determine in a conversation with perhaps a government entity, but perhaps not, all of the details of what the implications are, what the ramifications of this request would be.

But it's not different than the shot clock that you want to put on the Department of the Interior in 60 days having to approval drilling in sensitive offshore or onshore lands in our country. All of these things are basically part of a Republican agenda to ensure that the hands of the government are actually tied in protecting the health and environment of our country.

What the gentleman from Nebraska is doing, which is part and parcel of a systematic approach to undermine the ability of those agencies that are tasked with the job of protecting the health, of protecting the environment, of protecting the safety of individual citizens, is to have handcuffs put on them so they cannot discharge their responsibility.

I urge in the strongest possible terms a ``no'' vote on the Terry amendment.

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman.

I have a suggestion to succinctly tell the whole story about the tens of millions of acres that oil companies are allowing to sit idle. Fox should create a new TV show for the oil companies holding all these idle wells, and it could be called ``American Idle,'' with Exxon and Chevron and BP and all those companies as the contestants. Every week, the oil companies can come and sing their sad tune about needing more taxpayer-owned land to drill even as their lease blocks are left lonely for years at a time and they don't drill at all.

ExxonMobil and BP could sing songs like ``Not Taking Care of Business'' or ``Sitting on a Block in the Bay,'' where the refrain sung by the oil company executives would, of course, be ``wastin' time.''

And Simon Cowell could come back to the show he created so we can all watch as he mocks these companies for their subpar drilling performance. And of course, in typical fashion for the oil industry, they'll still demand to be advanced to the next round of leasing, even though they're doing nothing.

And by the way, in this bill, the Republicans actually have a provision that if the President, because Iran attacked us, deployed 10 percent of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, that we, the American people, would then have to lease 200 million acres, an area the size of Texas to the oil companies to drill because the President deployed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even though the oil companies already have an area the size of Kentucky in public lands that they are not drilling on.

So this whole American Idle thing really plays perfectly into the Republican plan because right now the oil companies pay $1.50 per year per acre not to drill while at the same time bleating that they are being discriminated against, even as the President now has us at the highest rate of oil production in the United States in 18 years, which is a very hard thing for the Republicans to finally come here to the floor and admit.

Vote for the Holt amendment. That is the solution to this problem. Then we'll get America and the oil companies back to work and away from their idle ways, which is hurting the national security of this country.

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Mr. MARKEY. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, this provision reminds me of something that French author Anatole France once said. He said that the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread.

So, yes, under the bill's petroleum protest poll tax, the rich as well as the poor are charged $5,000 as a fee to protest an oil company drilling plant that could undermine the environment or the safety or the view of a particular individual; but the law is clearly targeted against the poor.

So if you are one of the super-rich like, say, Mitt Romney, having to pay a $5,000 fee to protest is nothing. It's less than half of what you offer up when you make a friendly little bet with a friend. If you're the Koch brothers and you want to stop the Cape Wind project from blocking your view out on the ocean, that's a small price to pay to be able to undermine a project that you're not happy with. For everyone else, this is basic economic discrimination. This $5,000 fee isn't just a tollbooth on the highway of justice. It is a brick wall.

Just by contrast, the United States Supreme Court--the highest court in the land--charges $300 to appeal a case. For an American citizen who is earning minimum wage, it would take 4 months of working full time and forgoing food and shelter in order to pay this protest fee which the Republicans want to put on the books. So, ordinary people, they're going to have to pay up now if they want to protest, and the environmental justice that has been denied poor people in our country over the last several generations just continues under this. This is what it's all about--environmental justice.

What you're doing is you're imposing a poll tax--an environmental poll tax, a polluter's poll tax, a petroleum poll tax--on ordinary families. It is just wrong, unnecessary, but oh so obvious in what the agenda is. It's not to block the Koch brothers from trying to block Cape Wind but, rather, just ordinary citizens from having their days in court so they can make their protests in a way that doesn't bankrupt the families.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, we know that the Republican majority thinks current law governing hard rock mining in this country is about as close to perfect as they can get, and we know that international mining giants like Barrick Gold and Rio Tinto agree with our Republican colleagues. The status quo is really ideal from their perspective. That is because the status quo allows these multinational companies to mine billions of dollars worth of gold, silver, and other minerals on Federal lands without paying a dime in royalties. What's not to like if you're a multinational offshore company coming into our country?

The law allowing this disgraceful windfall was signed by Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, and there it sits immune from change, immune from improvement or update for 140 years. What we did not realize was just how far this majority will go to make sure even the smallest corner of the current setup is never, ever changed.

The administration has announced plans to consider whether merging some of the functions of the Office of Surface Mining and the Bureau of Land Management might lead to efficiencies and save the American taxpayers some money. The jury is still out on that idea, but we must ensure that we can continue to exercise proper oversight of mining activities on public lands and ensure that American taxpayers and States can continue to receive a proper return on these minerals.

A February report to Secretary Salazar recommended that the two agencies stay largely independent of each other. The merger plans have yet to be developed or announced and would likely be limited to money-saving ideas like combining human resource divisions, employee training programs, and fleet management operations. This streamlining could reportedly save as much as $5 million annually of taxpayers' money, something that the GSA, perhaps, could take as a lesson as to how they should operate.

At the very least, the administration deserves the time to fully develop and present a plan that can be debated on its merits. But this amendment says ``no.'' This amendment would specifically prohibit the administration from even considering whether aspects of this idea have merit and would save the taxpayers money, which is the goal of the plan that the Department of the Interior is considering.

Not only do our Republican colleagues reject any and all efforts to bring the Federal mining law into the 21st century--I would even take the 20th century, for that matter--but they bristle at the very idea of thinking about ways to better organize the agencies overseeing mining on Federal lands.

We should let the administration do its job. We should also get serious about ending royalty-free mining on public lands. This amendment really misses the point entirely. We need to be more efficient. We have to save the taxpayers money, and we also have to make sure that these multinationals pay more to mine the minerals of the American people.

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Mr. Chairman, this amendment is quite simple. It prohibits the export of oil and natural gas produced from leases on the public lands of the United States that are going to be authorized under this bill.

America's number one export last year was American fuel--number one. No other product did we export more of last year than the fuel that is produced here in the United States. More than $100 billion in American-made fuels was sent overseas to China, to Morocco, to Singapore, and other countries.

This infuriates Americans pulling up to the pump and paying more than $3.50 a gallon to fill up. Not only do oil companies want to continue exporting American fuel, but they're now talking about lifting restrictions on exporting America's crude oil as domestic production continues to increase.

Just this week, the President of the American Petroleum Institute announced that exporting America's crude oil should be a serious consideration. Let me say that again: Big Oil is now stating publicly, in no uncertain terms, that they want to be able to export crude oil produced in the United States.

Earlier, the majority whip said that this bill will make us energy independent. Well, without the Markey amendment, there is no way that an oil company just won't export the fuel and the natural gas, and now the head of the American Petroleum Institute says Big Oil also wants to start exporting America's crude oil, as well.

As American men and women are on the ground in the Middle East fighting and dying to protect oil supply lines coming from the Middle East into the United States, Big Oil wants to export oil produced here in America to China, to other countries around the world. That is truly frightening, and it's wrong, ladies and gentlemen. It is wrong in terms of our relationship with the young men and women who fight for us, who defend us around the world.

Big Oil is beholden to shareholder interests only. They do not care about American national security, and they certainly don't like Americans to enjoy low energy prices, which is what's happening right now with natural gas. They want a bigger cut. They want to create a global national gas market and a global price, just like they have for oil. That's the plan.

And the companies are lining up at the Department of Energy right now to get permits to export American natural gas. There are 15 applications seeking to export 28 percent of our current natural gas, American natural gas, natural gas here in the United States all around the world.

And why do they want to do that? Well, they want to do that--even though the Energy Department says it could lead to a 54 percent increase in the price of natural gas for Americans--they want to do it for a very simple reason. The price of natural gas in Japan right now is seven times higher than the price of natural gas here in America. American companies want to sell the natural gas to the Japanese rather than to Americans because they can make seven times as much money. In Europe, it's four times as high. They want to sell the natural gas of America overseas rather than keep the prices low for people to keep their homes heated, to keep our industries growing. The petrochemical industry, the fertilizer industry, the plastics industry, all those industries are dependent upon these fuels.

No, that's good for the oil industry. It's very bad for the American manufacturing sector because low-priced natural gas is what's fueling the increase in manufacturing all across this country.

So I just totally reject the premise of the majority in allowing for the sale of our oil and gas out of our land across the country.

At this point, I am going to reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. MARKEY. In summary, Price Waterhouse estimates that U.S. manufacturing companies could employ 1 million more workers if they continued to have low-priced natural gas. Exporting natural gas, exporting crude oil is only going to hurt our domestic economy, except for one industry: the oil industry.

American oil production right now is at its highest level since Bill Clinton. Natural gas production is at its all-time high ever. And what the American petroleum industry is now saying is that we want to start exporting this crude oil, start exporting this natural gas around the planet.

Keep American oil and natural gas here in America. Do not export it to other countries. It should be for Americans, and it should be for American companies. Vote ``aye'' on the Markey amendment.

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Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, every day will be Mardi Gras down in Louisiana if the gentleman's amendment is adopted. We--that is all the rest of us in the country--are already going to be sending $150 billion to these four States over the next 60 years. I don't blame the gentleman for coming back to try to get another bite at the apple, or, in this case, another bite at the king cake.

But I would say to the gentleman from Louisiana that his State already won the baby in the king cake when the GOMESA giveaway was enacted back in 2006, and you're already entitled to $150 billion worth of revenue coming out of the Federal Government and heading your way. And so I just think it's time for your region to give a little back to the other 46 States in the Union that didn't benefit from that 2006 giveaway to you. We're not begrudging that. What's done is done and you get the $150 billion. But I just think it's time for us to start thinking about starting to reduce the Federal deficit and starting to spend some of this money that comes in from the revenues from the drilling, and that it helps out the whole country. And so I would just make that case to everyone else.

By the way, if you come from one of those four States, vote for the gentleman from Louisiana's amendment. It's a good amendment for you if come from one of those four States. But if you come from one of the other 46 States, you've got rocks in your head if you're voting for that amendment because it's just another $6 billion going from your pockets into the pockets of those four States down there. And it just makes no sense at all after the $150 billion we gave them just 6 years ago.

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Mr. MARKEY. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Again, I'd be willing to have a conversation with the gentleman from Louisiana about what the proper way is of dealing with the funding for the preservation of the wetlands and the other environmentally sensitive areas down in the Gulf of Mexico, but this isn't the way to do it. This is just another permanent entitlement that we're building into the law here unattached to the hearings and the evidence that we need in order to make sure that whatever expenditures are made by the Federal Government are actually going for the intended purpose. And that's not what this discussion is here tonight with a 5-minute amendment that we're debating.

Six billion dollars should come under closer scrutiny than the debate we're having at quarter past 9 at night on the House floor where the only people who are watching the debate really need to get a life, because that's about the level of public scrutiny this is getting right now. I just think the $6 billion that the gentleman is seeking to request from the public has to be dispensed in a way that actually has a better process.

Again, I oppose the gentleman's amendment. I understand its intention. But for the other 46 States, I just don't think it's a good idea at this time.

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Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

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Mr. MARKEY. This amendment would order the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and gas leasing offshore in Virginia. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which was a lesson to all of us about the risks inherent in deepwater drilling, the Obama administration wisely canceled the proposed lease sale.

The overwhelming majority of the Virginia lease sale area infringes on critical training areas for the United States Navy. The Department of Defense itself has concluded that over 78 percent of the lease sale area would occur in areas where military operations would be impeded by drilling structures and related activities.

This area is already home to a number of critical military actions, including live ordnance tests, aircraft carrier qualifications, sensitive undersea and surface operations, and shipboard qualification tests. The military's continued activities in this area would torpedo drilling in most of this land.

Of the remaining 22 percent of the lease area, the majority of the unrestricted waters available for leasing would occur in the main shipping channel for Norfolk and the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the main channel used by submarines. So in the end, drilling could only even conceivably occur in about 10 percent of the area that the majority is talking about off the Virginia coast. When this Congress still has not passed a single legislative reform to improve the safety of offshore drilling, this just doesn't seem like it's worth of risk.

While some States may support offshore drilling, New Jersey and Maryland both oppose it, along with many other States along the Eastern Seaboard. These States' economies depend on the tourism that comes to see pristine, oil-free beaches and fishing that happens in their waters. And we are talking about their waters. As we saw during the BP disaster, drilling off the coast of Virginia could affect Maryland, New Jersey, and many other States up and down the East Coast because of oil spills which do not respect State boundaries.

This Congress has yet to enact a single safety reform following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The independent, blue ribbon BP Spill Commission recently gave Congress a grade of ``D'' on its legislative response to the worst environmental disaster offshore in American history, and only refrained from handing out an ``F'' because, and these are the words of the BP Spill Commission, it did not want ``to insult the whole institution.''

The gentleman's amendment would place the entire East Coast at risk of a spill in order to open up an area where drilling may only be able to occur in about 10 percent of the area. That doesn't make any sense for our coastal States and their economies. The risks that we run are much higher than the very small benefits that can be derived.

I urge rejection of this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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