Today, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) voted to end President Obama's de facto moratorium on American energy production in the Gulf of Mexico in favor of affordable American energy prices and American job creation. The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act (H.R. 1229) offers specific time parameters for the Secretary of the Interior to approve permit applications for Gulf Coast drilling, codifies safety and accountability standards, and establishes an expedited judicial review process for resolving lawsuits pertaining to the issuance or denial of permits. It was approved by the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 263-163.
"As a direct result of President Obama's ban and subsequent 'permitorium' against all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, American production has dropped, and our country's energy needs have become increasingly dependent on foreign governments," Congressman Issa stated. "Last month I asked voters in my District to tell me about the prices they were seeing at our local gas stations. At home in Vista, ours was $4.19. And of all the Southern Californians who responded, not a single person was seeing anything below four dollars a gallon. That's unsustainable for families, and we have the power to fix it. The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act is part of the solution."
"But this legislation is about more than four dollar and five dollar gas," Congressman Issa continued. "Americans depend on this industry for their livelihoods, and it's unforgivably shortsighted to say that a bureaucratic blockade on Gulf Coast drilling won't cost jobs in the energy industry and in manufacturing, engineering, travel and tourism, shipping, and the list goes on."
The Obama Administration's response to the Deepwater Horizon failure was to impose a moratorium on all offshore drilling (both deep and shallow water) in the Gulf of Mexico -- regardless of the individual merits and records of safety of the majority of rigs operating there. In the six months they officially enforced the moratorium, the Administration estimates that nearly 12,000 jobs were lost.
In October 2010, the moratorium was lifted. But while their terminology may have changed, their behavior did not. The moratorium gave way to a dramatically slowed offshore permitting process that has overseen the reissuance of only eleven of the fifty-two permits for companies that had previously been authorized to work in the Gulf. Many businesses could not sustain the glacial pace. Accordingly, one operator filed for bankruptcy and twelve additional rigs left the Gulf to drill in other parts of the world -- taking their business and jobs with them.
The Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act is part of the American Energy Initiative to stop government policies that are driving up gas prices, expand American energy production to lower costs and create more jobs, and promote an "all of the above" strategy to increase all forms of American energy.
Job losses resulting from the Gulf Coast moratorium on oil exploration and government permitting delays are additionally being combated through www.AmericanJobCreators.com, a forum for small business owners to detail the specific government rules that have stopped their growth, cut their workforce, and onerously hindered their productivity. Responses collected from small businesses across America will direct Congressman Issa and House Republicans as they pursue job-friendly federal regulatory reforms.