Opening Statement at American Energy Initiative Hearing, Rush Says Upton-Inhofe Bill Would Increase U.S. Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Mar 17, 2011
Press Release

WASHINGTON –– “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would also like to thank all of the panelists for being here today.

“Mr. Chairman, today’s hearing is entitled “The American Energy Initiative” but, ironically, earlier this week my colleagues on the other side of the aisle voted to
handcuff one of the agencies that has helped move America forward by promoting energy conservation and making our vehicles, appliances, buildings, and power plants more energy efficient.

“Over the past four decades the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been at the forefront of promoting better gas mileage for cars and trucks and saving American families millions of dollars at the pump, while also making us less dependent on foreign oil.

“However, instead of offering any real solutions or plans that would even remotely resemble an energy initiative, the Upton-Inhofe bill that my Republican colleagues just passed through the committee would actually increase our reliance on fossil fuels, both imported and domestic, which is great for the oil companies but not so great for American families.

“I am actually not opposed to domestic oil production, including drilling in the Gulf, as long as I am convinced that the devastating oil spill that we witnessed last year with BP’s Macondo well cannot and will not be repeated.

“While I understand that there are no guarantees in this business, I do know that the risks that BP took can and should be mitigated.

“I, therefore, believe the course of action that President Obama and his Administration took after the BP oil spill was prudent and necessary.

“After witnessing the explosion that claimed 11 lives and watching over four million barrels of oil gush into the Gulf for months without end, I believe it was reasonable and wise to halt drilling until we better understood what happened, why it happened, and how we could better prepare so that it would never happen again.

“And when President Obama lifted the moratorium last October, I also agreed with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s assessment that drilling could resume.  And, he offered this caveat, and I’m quoting him here, “…provided that operators certify compliance with all existing rules and requirements…and demonstrate the availability of adequate blowout containment resources.”

“For me and my constituents, the anguish and grief of helplessly watching oil gush into the Gulf for months on end while BP, the federal government, and every other entity remained powerless to stop it has not faded from memory—certainly not my memory.

“Yet, I also understand that just as thousands of jobs and livelihoods were impacted, and continue to be impacted, by the oil spill last year, there are also repercussions on U.S. jobs and our nation’s energy supply by not allowing drilling to continue in the Gulf.

“So, today, my hope is to gain an even better understanding of where we are now, nearly a year later from the initial explosion and oil spill, and to find out what improvements have been made with respect to safeguarding against the same type of event from ever happening again.

“Additionally, I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses on how their lives and livelihoods have been impacted and their thoughts on how we can move forward today.

“So I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing and I look forward to hearing from our invited guests.

“With that I yield back my time.”