3:34 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Section 121 requires the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement to keep detailed records and provide quarterly reports on any oil and gas permit or plan that was not approved by the agency. They don't ask for the ones that were approved, just the ones that were not approved.

This is the majority's attempt to try to speed up the approval of oil and gas permits and plans, and I have no objection to that. Here we are 16 months after Deepwater Horizon, and the Congress hasn't enacted a single significant safety reform. Despite the serious safety and environmental shortcomings found as a result of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the majority wants BOEMRE to return to the good old days of lax reviews and quick approval of oil and gas permits and plans.

I think this provision should be stricken.

I yield to the ranking member for his comments on this provision.

3:35 PM EDT

Jim Moran, D-VA 8th

Mr. MORAN. I thank the gentleman. Not surprisingly, I fully agree with the gentleman that this language again is inappropriate in here. It's punitive. It requires excessive record-keeping, and ironically, because normally we are getting complaints there is too much record-keeping. Well, now what we do is we're requiring in this bill even more detailed records that are not now required. It is going to expand the bureaucracy. They have to provide quarterly reports on any oil and gas permit or plan

that wasn't approved by the agency.

So in other words, the intention is to discourage the agency from not approving anything even if they feel that the oil and gas drilling operation might not be a safe one, that they don't have the requisite rules in place to prevent a Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

It says for each such document that the bureau receives, they have to provide the date the document was returned to the applicant, the date the document is treated by the bureau, and the date of final agency action, and on and on. More and more records that are not necessary.

We know what the intent of this is. It's to tell BOEMRE, the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, it's in your interest to just speed these along. Don't hold up any of these permits because if you do, you're going to have this very burdensome requirement on you. Here it's 16 months after Deepwater Horizon, and the Congress hasn't enacted a single significant safety reform. And the majority wants us to return to the good old days of very lax reviews, quick approvals

of every oil and gas permit and [Page: H5615]

plan. And if you don't, we're going to impose this very burdensome requirement on BOEMRE. That's just not in the interest of safety. It works against our resolve not to let a Deepwater Horizon tragedy occur again.

I'm using this acronym BOEMRE. For those who don't know what it means, it's the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. It's the new agency that was set up to prevent any future Deepwater Horizon tragedies. So here we're seeing language that is intended to mitigate against BOEMRE being able to do its job. I strongly support the intention of the ranking member of the full committee in striking this burdensome language.

3:38 PM EDT

Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, you know, if a little green man from outer space came and landed and watched this debate, he'd be puzzled. If the gentlemen on the other side were so concerned about the Culberson amendment, I'm puzzled why they didn't request a recorded vote in the committee. This was adopted in the committee, full committee markup, by a voice vote.

But beyond that, nobody wants another Deepwater Horizon. But this language that the gentlemen are objecting to says that this new agency will report quarterly to Congress on the status of permitting and why permits were rejected. Now why would the gentleman not want to have transparency and oversight over an agency to which we appropriate dollars?

Now this wouldn't puzzle me if we just hadn't come off of 4 years of a majority that was preaching to us about transparency and oversight and openness. Why wouldn't you want some report issued by the agency that tells us what they are doing with the money that we appropriate to them and what's the status and why a permit was rejected. That's a reasonable question.

[Time: 15:40]

Just to move to a different agency--you may not know this, Mr. Moran. I've lived in Mr. Moran's district for a period of time when I'm here in Washington, D.C., and I never saw anybody grazing and I never saw anybody moving livestock. But in my area, I will tell you that we're the nursery capital of the world. We are very much concerned with the guest worker program.

Under this administration, applications for guest worker applications have been denied at an alarming rate. When we ask the Department of Labor how many have been denied and how many have been appealed and how many appeals have been successful, they keep those records. You know why? Because that's a reasonable inquiry by a Member of the Congress, a member of the public, a guy who's growing arbor vitae in Perry, Ohio. So to describe this as somehow burdensome and crippling and somehow going to

lead to a another Deepwater Horizon disaster is just ridiculous.

The guys on the other side, Mr. Chairman, are great Members and great advocates for a lot of things, but this argument doesn't even pass the straight face test. And I would respectfully urge that it be defeated.

3:38 PM EDT

Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, you know, if a little green man from outer space came and landed and watched this debate, he'd be puzzled. If the gentlemen on the other side were so concerned about the Culberson amendment, I'm puzzled why they didn't request a recorded vote in the committee. This was adopted in the committee, full committee markup, by a voice vote.

But beyond that, nobody wants another Deepwater Horizon. But this language that the gentlemen are objecting to says that this new agency will report quarterly to Congress on the status of permitting and why permits were rejected. Now why would the gentleman not want to have transparency and oversight over an agency to which we appropriate dollars?

Now this wouldn't puzzle me if we just hadn't come off of 4 years of a majority that was preaching to us about transparency and oversight and openness. Why wouldn't you want some report issued by the agency that tells us what they are doing with the money that we appropriate to them and what's the status and why a permit was rejected. That's a reasonable question.

[Time: 15:40]

Just to move to a different agency--you may not know this, Mr. Moran. I've lived in Mr. Moran's district for a period of time when I'm here in Washington, D.C., and I never saw anybody grazing and I never saw anybody moving livestock. But in my area, I will tell you that we're the nursery capital of the world. We are very much concerned with the guest worker program.

Under this administration, applications for guest worker applications have been denied at an alarming rate. When we ask the Department of Labor how many have been denied and how many have been appealed and how many appeals have been successful, they keep those records. You know why? Because that's a reasonable inquiry by a Member of the Congress, a member of the public, a guy who's growing arbor vitae in Perry, Ohio. So to describe this as somehow burdensome and crippling and somehow going to

lead to a another Deepwater Horizon disaster is just ridiculous.

The guys on the other side, Mr. Chairman, are great Members and great advocates for a lot of things, but this argument doesn't even pass the straight face test. And I would respectfully urge that it be defeated.

3:41 PM EDT

Jim Moran, D-VA 8th

Mr. MORAN. Thank you.

You have this deep-seated concern about why we did not ask for a vote; so I can clarify that. The reason is we were overwhelmed with more than 40 amendments and we were trying to look to the welfare of the rest of the committee. There's only so many of these issues that you can call a recorded vote on, so we tried to be reasonable.

3:41 PM EDT

Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Reclaiming my time, I can appreciate the pressure that the gentleman found himself under. There are over 200 amendments. We're approaching 200 amendments on this particular piece of legislation.

I recall sitting in another full committee markup where the gentleman asked for a recorded vote on whether or not we could use Styrofoam containers in the House cafeteria. So clearly, the gentleman has to be as concerned about knowing what it is this new agency is doing relative to permits as he is about Styrofoam containers in the cafeteria.

3:42 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. This year, I'm sure the gentleman has noticed, we've been trying to reestablish regular order--having a subcommittee markup and a full committee markup and amendments on the floor, which is welcomed by our side. So we have to kind of make a decision: Are we going to ask for a vote on every single issue? We never do that. We try to cooperate. This is comity, something that the gentleman from Ohio understands quite well.

So I would just remind him that we're trying to get through these bills, and that's why we try to not ask for a vote on everything. We wanted to save this one for the floor so the American people would hear about what's going on.

3:42 PM EDT

Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Reclaiming my time, I appreciate it. I know the gentleman said ``comity,'' not ``comedy.'' I think it's comedy with a ``d'' that reigns here. I trust that the gentleman has had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek as he made that observation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

3:43 PM EDT

John Calvin Fleming Jr., R-LA 4th

Mr. FLEMING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I hail from Louisiana, which of course is a very big part of what this section 121 is about and certainly what the amendment is about. Just bringing everyone back, we had the Deepwater Horizon spill, which was a tragic situation which has hurt Louisiana in several ways, one being, of course, oil in the water. That's obvious. But then, of course, the many jobs that have been lost.

Going back over history, what we found is that in response to this the President brought together 10 experts to determine whether or not drilling should be stopped in deep water off the shores of Louisiana--in the Gulf of Mexico, in fact. This board of experts came together and said, no, that should not happen. We should continue forward. We can solve this problem. We can prevent it from happening. Nonetheless, the President came out and said, no, let's shut down drilling.

Well, when that didn't work, the President and Secretary Salazar slapped a moratorium on drilling. Then there were lawsuits. Then we had a de facto moratorium. Then we had a permitorium after there was a stay placed by a judge. Today, we have what I would call a ``slowitorium'' on permits and leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.

So it's very clear what's going on is the fact that even though the administration can't get the courts to stop drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even though the other side can't advance legislation, they're trying to do it administratively by slowing the process down. So all we ask, the people of Louisiana, is some transparency on this issue.

Section 121 does some very simple things. It just says the Secretary of the Interior shall log and track the specific reasons for BOEMRE returning to an applicant without approval any exploration plan, development and production plan, development operations, coordination document, or application, et cetera, et cetera.

We're getting reports continuously from drillers, from contractors who are out there trying to drill, that they put in applications. Weeks, months go by; they hear nothing. Finally, they get it back and an ``i'' was not dotted, so now they've got to start the process all over again.

So all we're asking is that integrity be brought back into this process, that there be accountability back into this process.

And the gentleman is absolutely right. We do want to get drilling back up in the Gulf of Mexico. We were at a peak of 1.7 million barrels a day before this incident. It has dropped now to 1.59 million barrels a day. And it's going to continue to drop because we have a process in which permits and leasing are still way off track. They're not back to the levels they were. And production is going to net down. As a result of that, we're going to continue to see oil and gas prices going up. [Page:

H5616]

So despite what is coming out of the Secretary of the Interior, drilling and production is not up; it's down. And it's continuing down and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future until we get the permits and the leases back up.

I certainly suggest, Mr. Chairman, that my colleagues and I should oppose this amendment. We do need to have transparency and accountability in BOEMRE when it comes to offshore drilling

3:47 PM EDT

Jim Moran, D-VA 8th

Mr. MORAN. The gentleman is quite right that there are now 1.6 billion barrels per day being drilled. Today, 67 new shallow water well permits have been issued since the implementation of these new standards. They're averaging six per month. The average before the disaster had been eight. So they're catching up. Just three of these permits are currently pending. Eight have asked for more information, have not been denied.

In terms of deep water, 75 permits have been issued. There are 25 pending. Twenty-two have been asked for additional information. Mostly, that information is with regard to containment, which is exactly what we instructed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to do: are they sure, can they assure us that they can contain any spill.

So things are not quite as dire as you might believe.

3:48 PM EDT

John Calvin Fleming Jr., R-LA 4th

Mr. FLEMING. Reclaiming my time, I would just suggest that we're still well off pace. And accountability is not going to be a factor in that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

3:48 PM EDT

John Culberson, R-TX 7th

Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, in the 7 months before the blowout, there were 49 deepwater permits issued. And in the 7 months since the moratorium was allegedly lifted, there's only been seven deepwater permits issued. We in the committee adopted this amendment, which I was proud to offer, simply to shine sunlight on the process. All the language in this bill requires is that the agency report to the American people and report to Congress the reasons why a permit for exploration or for drilling

has been slowed down or delayed.

We're all committed to transparency. We all want to know where and how our tax dollars are being spent. And the slowdown in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has had a catastrophic effect on employment. We've lost 60,000 jobs since 2008 in the Gulf of Mexico area. If we would get back to the levels of drilling, of permitting, both shallow and deepwater, that we were before the blowout, it's estimated that as many as 190,000 jobs could be created in the Gulf of Mexico in about 18 months, with about

400,000 industry-supported jobs across the United States supplying equipment to the offshore oil industry.

No one has a stronger stake in protecting the environment than we have that live there. These folks that work for these great companies are my friends and my neighbors. I'm proud to represent so many of these companies. Houston, Texas, is to the oil industry what Silicon Valley is to the computer industry.

[Time: 15:50]

These are engineers. These are the scientists. These are people who live and work in and around the Gulf of Mexico, who fish there, whose kids play on the beaches. Being a Houstonian and growing up along the gulf, I remember tarballs were common on the beach in Galveston. You just don't see it anymore.

3:48 PM EDT

John Culberson, R-TX 7th

Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, in the 7 months before the blowout, there were 49 deepwater permits issued. And in the 7 months since the moratorium was allegedly lifted, there's only been seven deepwater permits issued. We in the committee adopted this amendment, which I was proud to offer, simply to shine sunlight on the process. All the language in this bill requires is that the agency report to the American people and report to Congress the reasons why a permit for exploration or for drilling

has been slowed down or delayed.

We're all committed to transparency. We all want to know where and how our tax dollars are being spent. And the slowdown in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has had a catastrophic effect on employment. We've lost 60,000 jobs since 2008 in the Gulf of Mexico area. If we would get back to the levels of drilling, of permitting, both shallow and deepwater, that we were before the blowout, it's estimated that as many as 190,000 jobs could be created in the Gulf of Mexico in about 18 months, with about

400,000 industry-supported jobs across the United States supplying equipment to the offshore oil industry.

No one has a stronger stake in protecting the environment than we have that live there. These folks that work for these great companies are my friends and my neighbors. I'm proud to represent so many of these companies. Houston, Texas, is to the oil industry what Silicon Valley is to the computer industry.

[Time: 15:50]

These are engineers. These are the scientists. These are people who live and work in and around the Gulf of Mexico, who fish there, whose kids play on the beaches. Being a Houstonian and growing up along the gulf, I remember tarballs were common on the beach in Galveston. You just don't see it anymore.

3:50 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I just wanted to say that the gentleman and I have worked together, and I have great regard for him. I just wanted to mention a couple of facts and that, if we take up time, I'll try to get you extra time.

``To date, 67 new shallow water well permits have been issued since the implementation of new safety and environmental standards on June 8, 2010. Permits have averaged more than six per month over the past 8 months compared to an average of eight permits per month in 2009. Just three of these permits are currently pending, with eight having been returned to the operator for more information.'' Now, the question I have is:

Why don't we ask them to give, when they're doing the report, not just the ones that they've turned down but the ones that they've approved? I mean, wouldn't the gentleman want to have all that information instead of just the negative side of this?

3:51 PM EDT

John Culberson, R-TX 7th

Mr. CULBERSON. In reclaiming my time, as for the permits that have been approved, of course that's a matter of public record; but as for the permits that have been rejected and that are not yet a matter of public record, we want to see those and know why they've been rejected, why they've been delayed. That's all this language requires is that they shine sunlight on every corner of the process. Many of these permits have been rejected for reasons that are not directly tied to the substance of

the application. I've seen permits that are rejected because the typeface wasn't, in the opinion of the permitter, correct. It is clear that there has been a slow-down and that this administration overreacted to the spill. It has deliberately slowed down the permitting process and has made it more difficult for Americans to find American oil and gas.

We are committed to drill here and drill now in a way that is safe and clean, that protects the environment but yet takes advantage of the natural resources that God has so abundantly blessed this continent with. The Gulf of Mexico demonstrated that it can be done cleanly and safely; and there is no quicker way to generate high-paying jobs than to open up drilling in the continental United States, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico. Those rigs are gone, by the way, Mr. Dicks. Once those

rigs leave the Gulf of Mexico, they don't come back.

3:52 PM EDT

Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th

Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the gentleman very much for yielding.

The reason that this is the greatest deliberative body in the world is that sometimes during the course of a very intelligent discussion the truth and facts come out. Now, both the gentleman from Washington and the gentleman from Virginia have been able to cite chapter and verse of how many applications have been applied for, where they are, and what has happened to them. So, to suggest that somehow this is going to create some additional burden, you've got to add a line: ``We denied it because

..... ''

So I trust that, based upon the sunshine that has now been brought forth to the good facts by the distinguished ranking member, perhaps we can get past this amendment, in the interest of comity, without a recorded vote as we did in the committee.

3:53 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Now we get to deepwater: Since an applicant first successfully demonstrated containment capabilities in mid-February of this year, BOEMRE has approved 75 permits for 21 unique wells, with 25 permits pending and 22 permits returned to the operator with the request for additional information, particularly information regarding containment.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Texas has expired.

(On request of Mr. Dicks, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Culberson was allowed to proceed for 1 additional minute.)

3:54 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. I just hope that we can have reports not only about the ones that are turned down. As you say, it may be that the other ones are part of the public record, but I think the report should come back with both of these if it's going to come to the Congress. You know how this place works. Not everybody sees these public [Page: H5617]

records. If these reports are going to be used by the committee, we ought to have both sides of the equation.

3:54 PM EDT

John Culberson, R-TX 7th

Mr. CULBERSON. Reclaiming my time, I couldn't agree more. We find ourselves in agreement that sunshine is a healthy thing, and that's the purpose of the language in the bill.

With all due respect, Mr. Dicks, it is important that the House reject this amendment so that we can have sunlight in every corner of the permitting process and so that the public and the Congress can know why these permits have been delayed or denied so that we can open up the Gulf of Mexico to drill here and drill now--cleanly and safely.

I yield back the balance of my time.

3:55 PM EDT

Corrine Brown, D-FL 3rd

Ms. BROWN of Florida. I feel, I guess, like a lot of Americans in that I just can't act like it's business as usual. I am very upset that the FAA has shut down. Let me just tell everyone that H.R. 2644, by Representative Costello, was filed yesterday. It is a clean reauthorization of the FAA bill.

Saturday morning at midnight, following 20 previous clean extensions, funding for the Federal Aviation Administration was allowed to expire. Why did this happen? Simply because the Republican Party's lack of leadership over the debt ceiling debate is the same as their position with the FAA. Over 4,000 people have been laid off and over 3,000 in Florida--good construction jobs.

Just last night, I spoke with a single mother of two children, a woman from Kansas, who received an eviction notice at her apartment because she is not going to be able to pay her bills because of this impasse. These are real people. I repeat:

The reason the FAA extension has not been renewed is because the House Transportation Committee chairman inserted language in the FAA extension bill that would end a program that provides subsidies to rural airports.

So, yes, this is another example of the Republican Party's, ``if you don't do it my way, then we'll just shut it down, shut it down.''

Let me be clear. There are people here in the Capitol who flew up. They paid, let's say, $500 for their tickets. The aviation still charged the $500, but the money that goes to fix up the airport, that money is going now to the airline industry. In fact, they have raised the ticket price. This is an example that, if we don't do our job, the people get hurt, and that goes back to what everybody is so nervous about as far as what we should do about raising the debt ceiling.

I spoke to the longshoremen on Monday. I asked them: Have you ever heard of it before? Not one person. Do you know I voted for it seven times under President Bush? They didn't know that. Four times under President Clinton and 19 times under Ronald Reagan? Yet, we've got people who will bring down the United States Government if they don't have their way:

It's our way or not at all.

I was here under President Bush when we had 8 years of what I call ``reverse Robin Hood''--robbing from the poor and working people to give tax breaks to the rich. We did the same thing in December. We gave $70 billion to the millionaires and billionaires, and now people are calling my office, wanting to know whether or not they're going to get their Social Security checks. There is something wrong with that. There is something wrong in the people's House that we are having senior citizens worrying

about whether they're going to get their Social Security checks or whether they're going to get their veterans' checks. We can include the billionaires and millionaires, and we've got people over here from Louisiana to whom we've given billions of dollars; yet we want to close the opportunities to help other areas when we have disasters. That's what a budget is about. The budget determines your priorities.

It's a sad day in the people's House when we have people in this House who do not care about the American people; they only care about the next election. I can truly say that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. So the people who have lost their jobs at the FAA because of politics, wake up. The people who think that it's okay to rob Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare--education--wake up.

[Time: 16:00]

You know, elections have consequences, and we are going to have another election. And the people in this country are going to wake up, and they're going to realize that we're going to move forward or move behind. And clearly we've got people in charge that are only interested in pushing us behind.

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