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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chair, I oppose H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. By requiring offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, this bill threatens New Jersey's coastal environment, fishing, tourism and the associated jobs and economic activity. This bill is the same old failed attempt by the Republican majority to give away public resources to wealthy, multi-national corporations at the cost of American taxpayers and our environment.
In New Jersey, tourism is a top industry, and we rely on our beaches, fisheries and clean ocean to attract that tourism. In 2011, the commercial fishing industry in New Jersey generated $6.6 billion in sales and contributed $2.4 billion to gross state product, while supporting 44,000 jobs. At the same time, New Jersey's recreational fisheries generated $1.7 billion in sales and contributed $871 million to gross state product, while supporting 10,000 jobs.
I made an effort to give a voice to those Americans living on the Atlantic Coast who want to protect their livelihoods, who want to preserve a clean ocean and who want to ensure the health of marine life. I proposed an amendment to the bill which would have given the House of Representatives an opportunity to vote on whether we should force drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. However, my amendment was not allowed to even come to a full vote because of Republican opposition.
At a time when domestic energy production is booming under President Obama, this rushed expansion of unsafe drilling into environmentally sensitive areas is completely unwarranted. This legislation unnecessarily rewards wealthy, multi-national who are sitting on 30 million acres worth of approved leases, waiting to drill until prices are even higher.
Energy independence is a matter of smart economic progress and national security and the American people deserve real proposals that will move our country forward. The American people deserve better than this same old bill that is sure to go nowhere once again.
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