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Congressman Rob Bishop

Representing the 1st District of Utah

House Bucks Obama: Bill Jump-Starts Gulf Oil Production

May 6, 2011

"The situation we find ourselves in today is detrimental to everyone who goes to the pump to fill their cars," said Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah).  "The cost of gas increases, and continues to increase because of the inaction of this administration."

House Bucks Obama: Bill Jump-Starts Gulf Oil Production

by  Audrey Hudson, Human Events
May 05, 2011

Republicans are banking on a measure approved by the House on Thursday to lower gasoline prices by accelerating offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

"The situation we find ourselves in today is detrimental to everyone who goes to the pump to fill their cars," said Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah).  "The cost of gas increases, and continues to increase because of the inaction of this administration."

The de facto moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy last year has forced the importation of an additional 130,000 barrels of oil a day to make up for the lost production, Republicans say.

Democrats argued that the bill would lead to future environmental tragedies and insisted that more oil is being safely produced under President Obama than in President Bush's administration.

Republicans countered that Americans are expected to spend an additional $700 on gasoline this year.

"The administration's strategy is to cut the standard of living … and beg Saudi Arabia to be nice to us," Bishop said.

The legislation is the first of several measures Republicans will act on in the next week, and imposes strict time lines on the Obama administration to sell leases in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore from Virginia.

President Obama has since lifted the moratorium, but few permits are actually being approved, Republicans said.

"Unfortunately, the administration turned the tragedy into a catastrophe … one that destroys jobs," Bishop said.

HR 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, passed the House by a vote of 266 to 149, with 233 Republicans and 33 Democrats supporting the measure.

The Office of Management and Budget said in a statement that it opposes the legislation because it would undermine environmental protections and workplace safety.

The key measures are sponsored by Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings (R.-Wash.), chairman of the House Energy Committee.  The House on Tuesday will vote on HR 1229, which ends the moratorium and establishes new safety reviews.

"Continued tensions in the Middle East serve as a reminder that increased American energy production is as much of a national security issue as it is about jobs and lowering gasoline prices," Hastings said.

"The United States has the most energy resources in the world and the American people are demanding that we utilize them to lower energy prices, create jobs, and make American less dependent on unstable foreign energy," Hastings said.

Democrats said the measure reinforces the "myth" that America can drill itself out of foreign dependency.

" 'Drill baby drill' may look good on a bumper sticker, but it is not a sound energy policy," said Jared Polis (D.-Colo.).

"This does not make filling up at the pump any more affordable to Americans at all," Polis said.

Sporting an oversized bicycle lapel pin, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.-Ore., said what Americans need are more choices on ways to commute.

And Kathy Castor (D.-Fla.) said her state has yet to recover economically from last year's disaster.

"The gentle lady must have missed the reports," responded Rep. Jeff Landry (R.-La.).  "The prices at the pumps are going to impact tourism in Florida too."

The measure is supported by several industry groups, who say congressional action is the only way to jump-start oil production.

"It's sad that it takes an act of Congress to counter the damage done by the Obama administration," said Jim Adams, president and CEO of the Offshore Marine Service Association.

"Despite assurances to the American people, the Obama administration continues to find new excuses for preventing workers from exploring for oil.  As a result, thousands of Gulf workers are sitting idle, and Americans are paying $4 a gallon for gasoline," Adams said.

Added Jim Noe, executive director of the Shallow Water Energy Security Coalition:  "We have the resources and technology to make America less dependent on foreign oil.  All we need is for Congress to supply the will—the will to drill."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said she feels Americans' pain at the pump, but insists that eliminating oil company subsidies will reduce costs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.–Nev.) agrees, and circulated a letter to his colleagues this week urging them to back new proposals that will repeal what they estimate are billions of dollars in tax breaks.

"Given the unprecedented number of lawmakers who have stepped forward in support of this idea for the first time, we believe this new push to end oil subsidies has a strong chance to succeed where previous efforts have failed," Reid said in the letter.

In just the last few weeks, one oil rig off the coast of Louisiana has relocated to Egypt, said Rep. Steve Scalise, (R.-La.).  "If you look at what their (Democrats') plan is, it's a warped policy," said Scalise. 

"Their answer is to raise $30 billion in taxes.  Big Oil is not going to pay that.  Big Oil is leaving, they are going to foreign countries," Scalise said.  "We've got to reverse this radical approach."