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Mr. CANTOR. I thank the gentleman from Washington for his leadership on this bill.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. For too long, our economy has remained stagnant and the unemployment rate high. And for too long, hardworking American families have been suffering the consequences. These tough economic times are, in part, a direct result of our current energy policies.
Over the past several years, the Obama administration has been leading this country in the wrong direction with regard to our domestic energy production by enacting a plan that keeps 85 percent of America's coastal areas off limits to energy exploration. These Federal barriers have cost Americans jobs, surrendered much-needed revenue streams that would benefit the States, and decreased access to drilling areas that would allow us to become less dependent on foreign oil.
This administration has consistently been hostile to affordable domestic energy. Just this week, a senior advisor to the President said:
The one thing the President really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. A war on coal is exactly what's needed.
This should not come as a surprise, since President Obama also has said in the past, ``Under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.''
So, Mr. Chairman, we must harness our resources, contrary to these statements, not close them off. This bill reforms our current policy by requiring the administration to submit a 5-year leasing plan by 2015 that contains new offshore areas with the greatest known oil and gas reserves. Some of these areas have been estimated at 2.5 billion barrels of oil, or up to 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. There's simply no reason not to explore these areas with so much potential.
This legislation also establishes a fair revenue-sharing system among coastal States where energy resources are explored. Whether it's off the coast of California, along the Gulf of Mexico, or the coast of my home State of Virginia, each State will share a percentage of revenue from energy production off their shores.
This bill also ensures environmental protections remain a priority by reorganizing the Interior Department to include the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, charged with overseeing environmental safety.
Now, studies have indicated that energy production offshore, in my home State of Virginia, if this legislation is put into law, could create almost 2,000 new jobs in Virginia alone and produce 750 million barrels of oil and over 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Mr. Chairman, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act will lower gas prices for working families. It will strengthen our national security, and help create up to a million new jobs across America in the long term. The people of this country deserve a government focused on restoring the faith in our economy, and this bill is a step in the right direction.
Again, I want to thank Chairman Hastings for his hard work on this measure, and I urge my colleagues in the House to support this legislation.
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