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Public Statements

Natural Resources and American Jobs

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about natural resources and whether or not they can create American jobs. The answer is yes; with oil production alone, 1.2 million jobs between the three bills that Republicans passed out of committee and off of the House floor; a total of 2 million jobs if you add in the American Energy Independence and Price Reduction Act; 2 million American jobs. Not only could we be energy independent in our great Nation, but we can put Americans back to work with 2 million jobs alone in this area.

We need to have States' rights, allowing States to explore oil exploration or natural gas or utilize all of their natural resources, whether you're in Alaska and you want to drill in ANWR, or you're the Governor of California and you want to pass Tranquillon Ridge and clean up the old oil wells off of the coast. States should have those rights to be able to do that and to be able to put their own people back to work in those States.

The President's policies on our natural resources are just flawed. My friends across the aisle continue to talk about the bills that come off of this floor, whether they create jobs or not. This is indisputable, 2 million jobs. You don't have to like these jobs, but nevertheless, they are American jobs and it gives us our energy independence.

The President has said we have 2 percent of the world's oil, but we utilize 25 percent of the world's oil with our vehicles. Now I agree, we use 25 percent; we've got a lot of cars on the roads, we have a lot of goods movement, but 2 percent? The number is flawed again. As we went through the Natural Resources Committee, we have over 65 percent of the world's natural resources between natural gas, oil, and oil shale, we just have to be willing to go get it. So rather than going to Brazil, rather than going to the Middle East and putting our troops at risk, we ought to be self-sufficient and utilize our own natural resources and put Americans back to work in the process.

Now in my district, we've got natural resource issues as well. We've seen timber issues across the Nation. In Arizona, we've seen catastrophic disasters with national forests. In my district we've got national or natural forests as well. These national forests we've got to manage better. We've got to be able to take the fuel off of the forest floor. We've got to be able to harvest some of the timber. We'll never catch up at this point because our timber harvesting plants are so far behind. But nevertheless, we've got to put Americans back to work, we've got to put Californians back to work dealing with our timber industry.

And in the Central Valley, where we have the largest abundance of ag production, all of the fresh fruits, the nuts, packaged salads, we have so many different things that California produces and yet we see some of the highest unemployment in the Nation. As our national unemployment continues to escalate, we're at 9.1 percent now, we're double that in the Central Valley, and it's a direct correlation to the water. One of our natural resources, when you shut off the water to the valley and only give it 10 percent of the contracted allocation, you have 36 percent unemployment. And in some cities it's even higher. When you go to the food lines and you see Americans--44 percent unemployment in some cities--it seems un-American to not utilize our natural resources.

So we have the ability in this great Nation. We have the bills that we're passing off of this floor. What we need to do is have the will to move them through both Houses and encourage the President to have American jobs--not Republican jobs, these aren't Republican jobs, not Democratic jobs, but American jobs; putting people back to work; avoiding the natural disasters that happen with forest fires and the natural disasters we have with flooding when we don't manage our water; creating clean energy in the process. But the most important issue, when you've got 9.1 percent unemployment and escalating across the Nation, when you've got double that in the Central Valley and continuing to escalate but you have the natural resources and the ability to solve your own problems but ignore the fact and don't do so, we have an American problem with jobs.

As Republicans, we are willing to fix that problem. We will continue to pass these natural resources bills, but at some point we would ask our friends across the aisle to work with us. We will not solve California's energy problems or the Nation's job issue without addressing our natural resources.


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