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Sutton Calls on Oil Companies to Stop Playing Games with the American People

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Sutton Calls on Oil Companies to Stop Playing Games with the American People

Today, Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-OH) held a press conference with other House Freshman Democrats and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) to call on oil companies to begin producing oil and natural gas on the 68 million acres of public land currently under lease. The Congresswoman made the following statement:

"I am happy to be here today to join with my colleagues to support the "use it or lose it" legislation and also to set the record straight. Let's be clear, for the past 7 years, this administration has pandered to their well-to-do-friends in big oil and implemented an energy policy written in secret by Vice President Cheney and the oil execs. Thereafter, the oil industry reaped record profits of $155 billion last year and what are American families left with? $4 a gallon at the pump.

Yet even as American families struggle to afford the gas to get to work, take their children to school and go about their daily lives, this President refuses to support policies that will truly provide relief.

When the House rolled back taxpayer subsidies for big oil and moved to invest in renewable and alternative energy, this President blocked it.

When this Congress passed NOPEC to enable the Justice Department to go after the Oil Cartels and stop price fixing, this President and the Republicans blocked it.

When the House passed a bill to crack down on gas price gouging, this President and the Republicans blocked it.

When Congress passed an historic investment in bio-fuels and voted to increase oversight and prevent manipulation of energy prices, this President vetoed it.

Time and time again, President Bush and John McCain have sided with their friends in the oil industry, NOT with the American people. And now they are joining with big oil to try to peddle the idea that they are looking out for consumers when calling for greater access to drill.

But the American people know better. The oil companies have plenty of opportunity to drill if they so desire. They could drill on the 68 million acres they already have leased and could produce nearly 4.8 million barrels of oil each day, doubling US production. But they aren't drilling on these 68 million acres. Instead they refuse, while simultaneously complaining that they want to drill, and all the while, they continue to reap record profits as gas prices go through the roof.

Today we are calling them out. Use the 68 million acres for drilling or lose it. The oil companies, and those doing their bidding, need to stop playing games with the American people. They deserve better."

Congresswoman Sutton is a co-sponsor of H.R. 6256 the Responsible Ownership of Public Lands Act, which will compel oil companies to drill on unused leased land by charging a fee for continued inaction. If companies refuse to pay, their leases will be revoked and the land will be made available to other companies. Proceeds will go to increased renewable fuel production.

The Congresswoman was also a leader in the push to halt shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and was a cosponsor of H.R. 6022, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and Consumer Protection Act. With Congresswoman Sutton's support the measure became law and shipments to the SPR will be suspended beginning in July. This will send an additional 70,000 barrels of oil a day to the market for American consumers.

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