Scalise Leads Call For Hearings On Permitorium

from a release out of Rep. Steve Scalise’s office this afternoon…

Washington, D.C. –  Congressman Steve Scalise today released the following statement after leading a bipartisan letter with Rep. Gene Green (TX) to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requesting a hearing to examine and discuss the impacts of the Administration’s delay in issuing shallow and deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico.  In a letter to Chairman Fred Upton (MI-06) and Ranking Member Henry Waxman (CA-30), Scalise highlighted the economic impact of the permitorium and emphasized the need to immediately resume safe drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The President’s refusal to issue drilling permits is costing us thousands of jobs and is jeopardizing America’s national security, decreasing our energy independence and making us more dependent on Middle Eastern oil,” Scalise said.  “Not one new deepwater drilling permit has been issued since the moratorium supposedly ended more than four months ago, and this lack of action not only violates Judge Feldman’s orders, but also is directly responsible for killing jobs in our region.  This reckless policy has killed thousands of jobs throughout the Gulf region, and it is time for the Obama Administration to face the tough questions and be held accountable for the devastating consequences of their actions. I will keep fighting to reverse this reckless permitorium before even more damage is done to our fragile economy.”

Two weeks ago, Seahawk drilling filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy citing the impact of the ongoing permitorium.  Seahawk drilling was the nation’s second largest shallow water drilling company and employed nearly 500 people.

The text of letter follows below:

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman:

As Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we write today to request your attention to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement’s (BOEM) pace of issuance of permits for new shallow and deep water wells in the Gulf of Mexico. While the moratoria on shallow water drilling and deep water drilling were lifted on May 28, 2010 and October 12, 2010 respectively, since that time, BOEM has only issued 32 permits for new shallow water wells and has issued no permits for deepwater activities that were subject to the moratorium. This is in comparison to an average of 10 permits issued per week pre-spill. Additionally, we continue to hear from companies that the BOEM is rejecting drilling applications without providing adequate guidance as to what is needed to get the application approved.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost. Seven floating rigs and five jackup rigs have departed the Gulf of Mexico since the Macondo spill. There are currently an additional four rigs that are considering leaving the Gulf of Mexico.  With one rig equaling 500 jobs (100 workers on the rig, plus 400 workers supporting drilling operations onshore), thousands of jobs across the Gulf Coast both upstream and downstream remain at risk. This industry in the Gulf of Mexico comprises not only oil and gas companies, but also a network of suppliers and contractors that purchase goods as diverse as forgings, valves, computers, chemicals and helicopters from suppliers in all 50 states.

Meanwhile, gas prices continue to rise. Nearly one-third of our domestically produced oil and almost one-quarter of our natural gas comes from the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, as our committee recently highlighted in a Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing entitled, “The Effects of Middle East Events on U.S. Energy Markets,” the intensifying instability in the Middle East is threatening our supply, and we already import much of our oil from countries that are hostile to our interests. We need to safely and responsibly produce our domestic resources offshore in order to reduce this reliance on foreign imports and in turn, increase our economic growth. The Gulf of Mexico holds the largest and most productive oil resources in the United States, and further delays to safely producing these domestic resources will severely jeopardize our energy security and leave us more dependent on the Middle East for our energy supplies.

For these reasons, we respectfully request that our committee exercise its jurisdiction and hold a hearing on this permitting issue either in the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations or the Subcommittee on Energy and Power. We look forward to working with you on this issue, and please do not hesitate to contact us or our staff with any questions on this matter.  Thank you for your time and attention.

Steve Scalise
Gene Green
Pete Olson
Charles Gonzales
Bill Cassidy
Mike Ross



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