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Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TONKO. Mr. Chairman, here we go again.

It isn't enough that the Obama administration's offshore drilling plan makes more than 75 percent of our oil and natural gas resources available for drilling; but the majority is not going to be happy until we have turned over every square foot of our public lands and our coastline to the oil and gas companies.

H.R. 6082 abandons any pretense to the support of states' rights by mandating lease sales for the east coast and southern California--the coastlines of States that are on record as opposing oil and gas drilling along their coasts.

Too bad New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. If your citizens want to prioritize the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries, Big Oil wants to move in, and H.R. 6028 gives them the authority to do so. H.R. 6082 requires no public comment or consultation with the States. Apparently, those steps, steps followed by the administration in putting together their plan, are too time consuming. Besides, they may result in opposition to this ill-conceived drilling plan.

On the same day that the United States Chemical Safety Board has released its report on the Deepwater Horizon accident with the finding that safety lessons were not learned from the 2005 refinery accident, we're moving a bill that does nothing to improve the safety of offshore drilling for either the people who work on these rigs or for the many citizens and businesses whose coastal access, enjoyment, or livelihood would be lost if there were an oil spill.

Thankfully, this bill will go no further than this House, at least in this Congress. If it passed the other body, the President has already issued a veto threat. Why are we doing this? One can only speculate.

I'm disappointed that the Rules Committee did not make my amendment in order. It would have required oil and gas companies that are awarded leases to disclose their Federal campaign donations to candidates and super PACs.

We are in real danger of losing our democracy. Free speech should not cost millions of dollars, and corporations are not people. Sunshine is the best anecdote to this particular brand of poison. The public should know who is funding issue ads and other campaign-focused activities, especially when those funds come from corporations that profit from public resources.

The Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case unleashed a tidal wave of anonymous campaign donations. There are now over 600 super PACs poised to spend at least the $221 million that they have collected so far to dominate the airwaves with advertisements of the political viewpoints of corporations and wealthy individuals. According to a Bloomberg news article published earlier this year, Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by oil interests, paid over $12 million for ads attacking the Obama administration's green energy policies.

The public has a right to know how profits made through exploitation of public resources of our land and our coastlines are being used to influence elections. My amendment would have provided the public with some of that information.

H.R. 6082 will not make us energy independent. It will not make us more energy efficient. It will not lower fuel prices. Energy efficiency and investment in our new energy resources are the real way to kick our oil habit.

I urge my colleagues to reject H.R. 6082.


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