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Public Statements

Offshore Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, the bill before us today has great potential to create jobs, to boost our economy, and provide our country with new, much-needed sources of energy. But as written, it also has the potential to invite frivolous, duplicative lawsuits filed by outside entities with no real tie to the individual contracts stemming from this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, we have seen it happen time and time again: situations in which the community, the developer, and the Federal Government are all on the same page, but plans are ultimately ground to a halt by activist environmental groups that file lawsuit after lawsuit in order to stop the development in its tracks.

My amendment would stop this cycle as it relates to projects begun under this bill. It would allow individuals and groups not party to a lease under this bill to file a suit once--only once--within 60 days of an official action under the bill. Should a suing entity lose, it would be allowed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and final resolution would have to be reached within 180 days.

Finally, my amendment would also include a ``loser pays'' standard, meant to protect taxpayers and discourage the filing of a suit without true legal merit.

Mr. Chairman, the underlying bill would do much to move our country ahead, but I fear that we will not reach our full potential unless this important language is included.

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Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I'm not advocating for ``loser pays'' in all civil cases. My amendment relates only to these specific cases, in which an extremist environmental group files suit after suit simply to stop the development of natural resources and energy resources on American soil. Under my amendment, parties to a lease aren't subject to this standard.

Furthermore, my amendment does not undo the ability for members of the community who are concerned about a particular lease to petition the government--State or Federal--during the NEPA process.

Finally, while I understand the concern that ``loser pays'' harms complainants with the least amount of disposable income, I would simply say that near-record gas prices are harming them and are hurting the most vulnerable in our society, poor people and senior citizens on limited income. In fact, my colleague from Georgia, my good friend, was saying it's unnecessary. But if it's unnecessary, he shouldn't be afraid of this amendment. This is a commonsense amendment, and I urge its support.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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