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Public Statements

Job and Permitting Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Madam Chair, in the past I have made the statement regarding offshore drilling as a native Floridian that I will be the last person standing opposed. But it would seem to me there is ever-mounting evidence that Republicans are willing to expand offshore drilling regardless of cost to the environment.

This particular iteration of what I describe as a near-criminal energy policy takes the form of a sellout of hard-working Americans' right to breathe clean air. In particular, this bill excludes Shell Oil's icebreaker ships in the Arctic from regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Shell has and will continue to argue that since its icebreakers are regulated under title II of the Clean Air Act, the vessels don't also need to be regulated under title I. Yet the fact is that Shell's ships would not be regulated under title II due to the fact that they are foreign-flagged and predate the effective date of the regulations.

Shell is asking Congress, and Republicans are obliging, to create a legal loophole so that Shell, their company, can pollute with impunity and not be bothered by complying with environmental regulations designed to minimize our desecration of the Earth.

This loophole would create a dream scenario for Shell and the rest of the oil industry, currently taking in record profits as gas prices soar for the average American family. For its 2010 drilling operations, it was not the amount of emissions from the drill ship itself that triggered the application of the Clean Air Act regulations to Shell's operations, but the emissions from Shell's icebreakers.

The exploration drilling proposed by Shell, as has been noted, would release particulate matter well in excess of 800,000 cars traveling 12,000 miles. These kinds of support vessels are responsible for up to 98 percent of the air pollution from drilling outfits, and Republicans are asking Congress to close our eyes to this matter.

My amendment would bring the oil companies' dreamworld crashing down around them. My amendment eliminates the loophole created in this bill, giving EPA the authority to regulate the support vessels and the emission sources that they are.

I was in the Rules Committee. I heard this argument about 5 years and Shell, and I also heard my colleague Mr. Rush clearly explain that Shell filled out applications that were not fully filled out, and then when they were sent back at some point they even pulled their application before sending it back incomplete. Now, you can't have it both ways.

But, more important, I would ask every speaker that speaks in favor of this measure, tell the American public today how much this is going to reduce the cost of gasoline today, tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

The fact is, Hilda Solis, the Labor Secretary, did something today about the next iteration of jobs. She announced grants for different segments of this country in the amount of $38 million in grants for the Green Jobs Innovation Fund program. That is where our head needs to be. Our heart may still be in the need to use fossil fuels, but this measure isn't going to make one whit of a difference with reference to the cost of gas.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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