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Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



* Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 6899, the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act.

* Every day my constituents contact my office wanting to know what Congress is doing to lower gas prices. Many of these families work full-time. Some even have more than one job. Yet as a result of skyrocketing energy costs and a weakening economy, they are struggling to make ends meet.

* Madam Speaker, there is something fundamentally wrong with our energy policy when hardworking American families are increasingly burdened by escalating energy prices, while oil companies continue to reap record profits. Congress has a duty to move past short-sighted solutions, and pass this legislation which will provide the first steps to ending this inequity and our Nation's addiction to oil.

* While I have serious concerns about the expansion of offshore drilling, I recognize however, that this compromise is needed to address the expiration of the moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf drilling and move the other important provisions in the legislation forward.

* While it is far from perfect, H.R. 6899 is a necessary and realistic compromise that in addition to preventing drilling only three miles off our shores, will help expand our domestic energy supply, encourage energy efficiency and conservation, and reduce our Nation's dependence on oil.

* H.R. 6899 will address our energy crisis by the temporary release of almost 10 percent of the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This is expected to have the direct result of lower gas prices in the short-term.

* The bill also invests in renewable energy technology by establishing a package of renewable energy tax credits and creating a renewable electricity standard, thereby giving us the tools and the incentives to break free of our dependence on oil. It is estimated that the renewable electricity standard will save American consumers up to $18 billion by 2020. In addition, the tax credits will help spur the creation of new, green jobs and encourage the next generation of job development here in America.

* The bill also ensures that oil companies will pay their fair share of royalties on their drilling leases. Due to errors made by the Department of the Interior in 1998 and 1999, many oil companies who were granted leases during that time were exempt from paying royalties. This has amounted to $15 billion in lost revenues to the American taxpayer. There is absolutely no reason that oil companies should continue to cash in while American families can't even make ends meet. By rectifying this error, H.R. 6899 will ensure that the Interior Department will be able to collect the payments owed to hardworking Americans.

* Given the current crisis, it is necessary we take the first step to reach our larger goal of energy independence. The Democratic leadership has wisely rejected the Republican Party's shortsighted call for ``drill-only'' legislation,
and instead has put forward a responsible plan to give states the option to decide if portions of the Outer Continental Shelf no closer than 50 miles off our shores will be opened to oil drilling--and it requires oil companies to drill on their existing leases or lose them. I am gratified that the legislation will incorporate environmental safeguards by permanently withdrawing national marine monuments and national marine sanctuaries from leasing eligibility.

* I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to protect our shores from the lifting of the offshore drilling moratorium and as a first step away from dependence on foreign oil and toward critical investments in renewable energy technology. This legislation provides the foundation for a long-term strategy to move the Nation on the road to energy independence.

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