Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

By:  Karen Bass
Date: June 21, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BASS of California. Mr. Chairman, my Los Angeles district is home to one of the largest urban oilfields in the United States, the Inglewood Oil Field. My constituents suffer from anxiety and stress because of the oil drilling. In 2006, drilling operations were ramped up, and the release of harmful fumes forced nearby residents to evacuate their homes.

In April 2012, the County of Los Angeles conducted a study in which over 70 percent of residents living near the oilfields expressed concerns about exposure to emissions from the oilfield. Meanwhile, my colleagues, unfortunately, on the other side of the aisle continue to push for more domestic drilling and relaxed regulations.

The bill before us today is based on two claims that appear to have become articles of faith. The claims are that gas prices will fall if we weaken environmental protections and if we open more areas for drilling in the United States. The problem is that there is no empirical evidence supporting these claims. Oil prices are set on a world market, and no amount of domestic drilling in the United States will have a meaningful impact on that price. This isn't spin from some interest groups; this is the conclusion drawn by experts. It has been corroborated by the Associated Press and the Congressional Budget Office.

The AP conducted a thorough study of gasoline prices and U.S. oil production over the last 36 years and found zero correlation between the two. In other words, changes in U.S. oil production had absolutely no effect on gasoline prices, but that doesn't mean there's nothing we can do to help American families burdened by high fuel costs.

CBO recently released a study on energy security. They found that boosting U.S. oil production will not protect Americans from gasoline price spikes. Instead, CBO found that the only way to protect consumers from these spikes is to use less oil. The reason for this is simple: Gasoline prices are linked to the global oil market. That's why Japan, which imports all of its oil it uses, and Canada, which exports more than 75 percent of the oil it produces, experience the very same gasoline spikes we experience.

The best way to save money at the pump is to drive right past it. The Obama administration has been helping consumers do just that. We know that efficiency works to reduce cost. The Energy Information Administration has found that the cost per mile of driving has fallen by more than 25 percent since 1980 due to improvements in the efficiency of our vehicles.

President Obama has already taken action to reduce costs further. The new vehicle efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for model years 2012-2016 will save consumers, on average, over $3,000 over the life of a vehicle, which is hundreds of dollars per year. The millions of Americans that have bought model year 2012 cars are already enjoying savings at the pump. In fact, the new standards are currently saving consumers 14 cents per gallon.

Furthermore, the energy efficiency sector is a booming job-creating field. In my district, CODA Automotive, an electric car company, recently opened their new headquarters. In a few short months last year they created 300 new jobs, and hundreds more will be created in the coming years. This is the type of job creation and cost savings that we should be focused on.

My amendment simply improves the bill by adding a provision that actually has something to do with gasoline prices. This amendment would require the newly created Interagency Committee to analyze how to protect American consumers from gasoline price spikes by reducing America's dependence on oil.

I hope my colleagues will join me in recognizing that efficiency works and must be part of the solution. If not, this legislation will continue to ignore the only approach identified by CBO as helpful in protecting consumers from supply disruption and price spikes.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. BASS of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise today as the designee to present Representative Sheila Jackson Lee's amendment No. 27 to H.R. 4480, which would establish an Office of Energy Employment and Training as well as an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion that would be responsible for all matters relating to diversity in management, employment, and business activity.

This amendment simply recognizes the importance of developing a diverse and highly skilled technical workforce within the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior reviews permits, examines lease sales, and ensures that each application meets the highest safety standards. We should be focused on providing the Department of the Interior with trained technical engineers and other such necessary personnel to review drilling permit applications both carefully and thoroughly. Given the aftermath of the BP oil spill, it is easy to understand the importance of addressing all safety concerns prior to the issuance of oil and gas lease sales.

Since the disaster, Federal safety regulations have been tightened, spill containment response capability has been enhanced, and lessons have been learned. These lessons must be understood by everyone involved in reviewing and approving each and every application for permits and lease sales. Responsible onshore drilling includes having our best minds working to carefully and diligently review each application. This amendment is intended to include both women and minorities in the process.

This amendment is designed to ensure that DOI is able to recruit, retain, and train skilled professionals, many of whom require a science, technology, or math background. The DOI would be encouraged to reach out to high school students, college students, and professionals.

It establishes an Office of Energy Employment and Training, which will oversee the efforts of the Department of the Interior's energy planning, permitting, and regulatory activities related to this act. This office will be responsible for issuing quarterly reports to the Secretary, which will include the amount of jobs created by the DOI, as well as reporting the types of job training programs that have been implemented or proposed.

This amendment also addresses the need to encourage diversity within the DOI by creating the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, which is specifically designed to encourage diversity by reaching out to both women and minorities. Specifically, the DOI would have a director appointed by the Secretary of the Interior who will develop clear standards for equal employment opportunities and will address the need for increased racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at both the junior and senior management levels of the Department.

This amendment would require the DOI to take affirmative steps to seek diversity in the workforce of the Department at all levels. The Department of the Interior would be required to sponsor job fairs in urban communities and partner with organizations that are focused on developing opportunities for both minorities and women in the energy industry.

Again, it is the job of the DOI to ensure that all lease sales meet the highest reasonable standards for safety. This amendment is meant to ensure that women and minorities have a fair opportunity to participate in making these types of decisions within the Interior Department.

I support my colleague Ms. Jackson Lee's amendment and urge my colleagues to do the same.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. BASS of California. I thank the gentleman for his offer, but given that I am the designee for Representative Jackson Lee, I don't feel it is appropriate for me to withdraw the amendment.

I would simply close by saying that the purpose of the amendment is to recognize the importance of developing a diverse and highly skilled technical workforce within the DOI, and all studies have indicated that there is a serious lack of diversity.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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