Off-Shore Drilling Is Economically And Ecologically Devastating, Says Menendez In Energy Speech On Senate Floor

Off-Shore Drilling Is Economically And Ecologically Devastating, Says Menendez In Energy Speech On Senate Floor

Sen. Menendez is author of legislation to permanently ban drilling in OCS, has led numerous defeats of offshore drilling amendments over the past year

Washington - Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the author of the COAST Act to permanently ban drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), took to the Senate floor to deliver a key speech on off-shore drilling. This followed Senate Republicans unveiling legislation that makes opening up the East and West coasts for drilling the centerpiece of their plan to solve America's energy problems.

Gasoline Prices at All Time High:

"Gasoline is now at over $4.00 per gallon and the Republican Bush/McCain plan is to do more of the same. My colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle have continually sought to help Big Oil while at the same time they have blocked Democratic attempts to develop real policies to end our addiction to oil. The result is that under the Bush Administration the price of oil has shot up over $140 per barrel and the price of gasoline has more than doubled.

"President Bush was right when he said that we are addicted to oil. But what amazes me is that the Bush/McCain plan is designed to have us continue to act like addicts. Instead of supporting real plans to conserve oil or even transition to sustainable fuels, the Bush/McCain plan is to go out in search of our next oil fix.
...

Oil Companies Sitting on 68 million Acres Leased by American People:

"Another fact that the other side of the aisle wants to keep from the American people is that 80 percent of the oil and natural gas resources in our federal waters are already open for exploration. Oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of oil and natural gas leases where they have not produced any oil or natural gas.

"The EIA projects that even if we opened up the entire Outer Continental Shelf to drilling- Off the East Coast, Off the West Coast, and opened up the entire Eastern Gulf of Mexico, nothing would happen to gas prices. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
...

Oil-Drilling Devastates Environment and Economy:

"Remember that oil drilling spill in the Gulf that travelled 600 miles, and the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska was over 600 miles wide. So what would a similar spill look like on the East Coast?
It would mean a devastated coast line from New York down to South Carolina. The environmental impact would be immeasurable and the economic impact would be enormous.
...

Republicans Say NO to American People, YES to Big Oil:

"Now it seems that Senator McCain cannot keep up the charade any longer. On Monday he admitted that he did not expect his plan to provide relief at the pump, but that his plan would have a "psychological impact" that would be "beneficial." Psychological games are not going to reduce the price of oil. The American people are sick and tired of Republican politicians that try to use political spin rather sound policy to solve our problems.

"The American people are sick and tired of an energy policy written by Big Oil. It is time for my friends on the other side of the aisle to join us in real reform or get out of the way."

To watch the video of the Senator's remarks, please click here: http://menendez.senate.gov/#offshore

To listen to the audio of his remarks, click here:
http://demradio.senate.gov/actualities/menendez/menendez080627.mp3


Full text of Senator Menendez's remarks, as delivered:

M. President,

For years we have had an energy policy written by Big Oil for Big Oil. The result has been good for Big Oil, but a disaster for the American people.

Gasoline is now at over $4.00 per gallon and the Republican Bush/McCain plan is to do more of the same. My colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle have continually sought to help Big Oil while at the same time they have blocked Democratic attempts to develop real policies to end our addiction to oil.
The result is that under the Bush Administration the price of oil has shot up over $140 per barrel and the price of gasoline has more than doubled.

Despite this history of gas prices going up and up because of their failed policies, the Republican Party continues to block measures that will help create change. Every time we offer sensible policies to address the oil crisis, my friends on the other side of the aisle say NO.

They have said NO to the Consumer First Energy Act that would finally clamp down on rampant oil speculation and burst the speculative bubble that has caused oil prices to skyrocket.

They have said NO to the Renewable Energy Tax extensions bill that would help continue the rapid growth of wind and solar and provide an incentive for the purchase of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This will help us begin the transition to new energy sources so we are not so vulnerable to the rising costs of fossil fuels.

And the Republican Party has said NO to Climate Change legislation that lays out the framework to completely change our economy from one based on oil and other fossil fuels to an economy based on renewable energy.

The Democrats have laid out a sensible plan for change in our energy policy that will make America stronger and more independent in the short, medium and long term, but all the Republicans can say in return is NO to the American people and YES to Big Oil.

President Bush was right when he said that we are addicted to oil. But what amazes me is that the Bush/McCain plan is designed to have us continue to act like addicts. Instead of supporting real plans to conserve oil or even transition to sustainable fuels, the Bush/McCain plan is to go out in search of our next oil fix.

M. President, ending a bipartisan twenty-six year moratorium to open up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil exploration is simply not a solution to our oil crisis.

To defend this senseless Bush/McCain plan to open up all our shores to drilling, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been playing fast and loose with the facts. They claim that opening up our shores to future drilling will somehow affect gas prices. As I recently pointed out on the floor, this argument flies in the face of projections by President Bush's own Energy Information Administration.

The EIA projects that even if we opened up the entire Outer Continental Shelf to drilling- Off the East Coast, Off the West Coast, and opened up the entire Eastern Gulf of Mexico, nothing would happen to gas prices. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Now it seems that Senator McCain cannot keep up the charade any longer. On Monday he admitted that he did not expect his plan to provide relief at the pump, but that his plan would have a "psychological impact" that would be "beneficial." Psychological games are not going to reduce the price of oil. The American people are sick and tired of Republican politicians that try to use political spin rather sound policy to solve our problems.

Another fact that the other side of the aisle wants to keep from the American people is that 80 percent of the oil and natural gas resources in our federal waters are already open for exploration. Oil companies are sitting on 68 million acres of oil and natural gas leases where they have not produced any oil or natural gas. I have joined my colleagues Senator Dodd and Senator Durbin to introduce a bill, the

Responsible Ownership of Public Land Act, that will charge oil companies an escalating fee for leased acres they put aside and do not use for oil or natural gas exploration. This will give these companies the incentives they need to stop hoarding the resources they have instead of seeking access to environmentally sensitive areas.

One other fact that has not been discussed properly in this debate about high gas prices is the affect of President Bush's disastrous economic policies. The weak dollar means it simply takes more money to buy the same barrel of oil than it did at the beginning of President Bush's term. In 2000, one euro was equal in value to one dollar. Today, one euro is worth close to one dollar and 60 cents.

In large part this weak dollar has been caused by the enormous domestic budget deficits this Administration rung up to pay for the war in Iraq. Instead of actually paying for this mistake, the Administration has just been printing money and piling up huge debts. We are spending over $12 billion a month in Iraq and this foreign policy disaster is now adding up to be a fiscal policy disaster. It is time we finally end this war, and get our fiscal house in order. In turn this will strengthen the value of the dollar and help lower the price of gasoline.

But M. President, perhaps the most disturbing thing about the misinformation campaign to sell the Bush/McCain plan to open up all our oceans to drilling is that they refuse to discuss how drilling will be economically and ecologically devastating to our coasts.

On June 3, 1979, an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out. The resulting 140 million gallon spill was the second largest in world history -- over 10 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill.

As you can see from this map, the spill traveled 600 miles to blanket the coast of Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana causing tremendous damage.
I think we all remember that on March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The oil tanker ruptured and spilled over 10 million gallons of oil.

The result was an oil spill over 600 miles wide that created one of the largest environmental disasters in history.

I am about to show images of the devastation following this spill and I would ask that if there are children watching or those sensitive to the plight of animals, they should probably look away from these horrific images.

The Exxon Valdez coated the Alaskan shoreline, turning a pristine environment into a toxic waste clean up site. Over 11,000 people worked to try clean oil washed up on shore, but even today there is estimated to still be over 20,000 gallons of oil on Alaska's sandy beaches.

The spill killed thousands of animals immediately. It killed hundreds of otters and seals, as many as half a million seabirds, and over 200 of the very symbol of America itself: the bald eagle.

Anyone who saw the devastating images from this incident cannot forget them.

What is important to remember from these disturbing images is that if we open up the East and West Coasts to drilling the same thing could happen to places here in the lower 48.

My colleagues from the Commonwealth of Virginia want to open the coast of Virginia to drilling. They seem to think that oil drilling in Virginia waters will only affect the state of Virginia. But oil spills do not sit still.

Remember that oil drilling spill in the Gulf that travelled 600 miles, and the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska was over 600 miles wide. So what would a similar spill look like on the East Coast?
It would mean a devastated coast line from New York down to South Carolina. The environmental impact would be immeasurable and the economic impact would be enormous.

The New Jersey Shore is a priceless treasure my home state will protect at any cost, but the Shore also generates tens of billions of dollars in revenues each year and supports almost half a million jobs. In South Carolina, Myrtle Beach alone brought in $3 billion in revenue. Do we really want oil washing up onto Virginia Beach? Flowing up into the Chesapeake Bay? Can Maryland's famous blue crabs survive such an environmental assault?

It is time for a real cure based on a tough examination and reordering of our energy priorities - and not the tired old policies of the past.

I ask that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle end their efforts to block real reform.
It is time we unite together to pass the Consumer First Energy Act to clamp down on excess speculation and finally burst this oil bubble.

It is time we come together and pass the Renewable Energy Tax extensions bill that will promote the development of clean energy here at home, help our automakers develop cars that run on electricity, and develop advanced biofuels so we have a sustainable alternative to gasoline.

The American people are sick and tired of an energy policy written by Big Oil. It is time for my friends on the other side of the aisle to join us in real reform or get out of the way.

Thank you.

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