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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. Madam Chair, the amendment that I bring would take $420,000 from the Secretary of the Interior's account and move it into the spending reduction account to reduce the Nation's deficit.

And the reason that we're doing this is that, over the last year since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the administration came out with a policy not long after that imposed a moratorium on drilling, a moratorium that was found by Federal courts to be outside of the law. The administration unfortunately went forward with that moratorium, costing thousands of American jobs, hurting America's energy security.

But even after the lifting of the moratorium, they still maintain what they call a permitorium, a refusal to issue permits to explore in the Gulf of Mexico for American energy. Not only does it cost our Nation tens of thousands of jobs, but it also costs us energy security where now we're even more dependent on Middle Eastern countries for oil. It's led to higher prices of gasoline at the pumps. It's had devastating impacts. Yet there's been no accountability to the administration for their policies that have led to this destruction of our economic well-being and our energy security as it relates to American energy, and especially as it relates to jobs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, if you really want to get down to the details of this amendment, one of the things we've said for a long time is, a lot of these companies, these big employers that have been out there for a long time exploring safely for American energy, they want to continue to be able to explore for American energy; and they want to go back to work; but they haven't been allowed to because of administration policies.

But what's more absurd is that while the administration has had this permitorium, where they won't let people go back to work, they have also allowed the clock to continue ticking on the permits and on the leases. And you've got a finite amount of time for a lease; you've got a 10-year period of time. And if the administration is saying you can't properly develop your lease--now it would be one thing if they said, we're going to stop the clock while we, as an administration, go forward with this radical policy. But all outside experts have said is that it has nothing to do with safety, and it is hurting not only American energy production but American jobs.

But what the administration said is they're going to continue to let the clock run. It's like if you are playing a basketball game and the referee is holding the ball, and the clock's still running. You are sitting there saying, look, I just want the ball. I want to be able to go out and play by the rules, and the referee is holding the ball while the clock continues to run. That's just not fair. And yet the administration continues to do this.

This House, Madam Chair, passed legislation, H.R. 1229. It's called the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act. This legislation that we passed here in this House with a bipartisan vote, sent it over to the Senate--they still haven't taken action in the Senate--but what this legislation did, among other things, is it addressed that problem and said, If this administration is going to tell responsible companies who are trying to go back to work, who are trying to do the right thing--if the administration is going to tell them that they're not allowed to play by their own rules, then the clock stops while the administration denies them the ability to be permitted.

So the legislation that we passed addressed this. But the Senate, for whatever reason, refuses to take that up; again, costing our country thousands of good, high-paying jobs and hurting America's energy security, making us more dependent on Middle Eastern oil.

What we're saying with this amendment is: if this administration wants to continue going forward with that radical policy, which a majority of the President's own hand-picked scientists in his report right after the explosion of the Horizon said is irresponsible to do, that would actually reduce safety by denying permits, by having this moratorium, and now permitorium, then there has to be accountability. We have to hold this administration accountable for their actions.

And the $420,000 number in this bill that we're setting aside and putting into the deficit reduction account was gathered by looking at the number of leases that expire at the end of this year. There are 350 leases that will expire at the end of this year, not through any fault of those companies that are out there trying to explore for American energy, but because the administration won't let them play by the rules.

So if they're going to be irresponsible with their policies, there has to be a price to pay. There has to be accountability that the American people say, You're not going to use taxpayer money to deny American jobs, to deny American energy, and make our country more dependent on Middle Eastern oil and make our country continue to have to pay these higher prices at the pump.

It's their policies that have done it, and it's clear, and everybody understands that. People in the Gulf of Mexico recognize that. But there has been no accountability by this Congress, and so that's what this legislation is intended to do. This amendment will address that problem. I urge its adoption.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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