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American Energy and Conservation Act of 2016--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. President, the bill before us would incentivize offshore drilling for vast swaths of the Atlantic coast, in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, putting one of our most precious natural resources and drivers of economic growth at risk in order to enrich a few big oil companies. The two Democratic leads on the relevant committees--we have just heard from one, Senator Nelson, and we will hear from another, Senator Cantwell--are very knowledgeable about the risks to coastline communities posed by offshore drilling. They are opposed to this legislation. I agree with them.

It should be readily apparent to everyone in this Chamber why this bill is a bad idea. Fishing and tourism on the Atlantic coasts accounts for tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. In my home State of New York, commercial fishing accounts for tens of millions of dollars of revenue.

From the pristine beaches of Florida, from Daytona to the Outer Banks, to Virginia Beach, the Atlantic Seaboard is home to some of our most visited and beloved vacation spots. A drastic increase in offshore drilling, as this bill intends, comes with drastic risks, risks that are not imagined or even hypothetical any longer. We know that after Deepwater Horizon and other disasters.

When it comes to protecting our unique and nearby Atlantic Ocean habitats, we must guard against policies that can best be summed as ``spill baby, spill.'' It is a risk we don't need to take. Domestic energy production has grown significantly over the past 8 years. Our dependence on foreign oil is at a 40-year low. I would also call into question the revenue sharing proposals of the bill. Over the long term, it would direct $7 billion--billion, that is, not million--away from the Federal Treasury. States would see some of that money, but the real winners would be the big oil companies for which the market would be tilted even more in their favor.

I think it is telling that one of the first bills the Republican majority puts on the floor is a boon to special interests. I urge my colleagues to vote no on the bill.

I ask unanimous consent that our leader on our Energy Committee, the Senator from Washington, be given the time she needs, even if it delays the vote for a couple of minutes.

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