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June 28, 2007

Ranking Member Stevan Pearce's Statement From Today's Hearing

On Minerals Management Service's Proposed 5-Year Program

For Oil & Gas Leasing On The OCS

            Washington, D.C. - The following is U.S. Rep. Stevan Pearce's (R-NM) statement from today's hearing on the Minerals Management Service's proposed five year program for oil & gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Pearce is the Ranking Member of the Energy and Minerals Resources Subcommittee which conducted the hearing.

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I want to thank you for holding this hearing.  This House's schedule has been very tight in recent weeks, especially this week, and I know that all Members, including yourself, are extremely busy.  But I think the Minerals Management Service's Five Year OCS Plan is an important topic and I sincerely appreciate that you have put this hearing on the Subcommittee's calendar.

"I also want to thank you for the process that was followed in scheduling this hearing.  The scheduling, selection of witnesses and scope of this hearing were all determined in a bipartisan fashion.  It is a testament to your leadership and statesmanship, and it is a pleasure to serve with you on this Subcommittee.

"I'd like to begin by welcoming all of our witnesses.  We thank you for your time and look forward to hearing all of your views.

"I want to welcome my fellow colleagues testifying today - Mr. Thompson, Mr. Moran and Ms. Drake from Virginia, a distinguished former Member of this Committee.  You have always been a strong and graceful advocate for your constituents and energy development in Virginia's OCS is a good example.  It's wonderful to have you back in this Committee room again.

"I'd also like to welcome Walter Cruickshank who is the newly Acting Director of MMS.  Mr. Cruickshank's knowledge of the Minerals Management Service's administration of the OCS oil and gas leasing program is deep and his service is appreciated.  I have confidence that he will be a great steward of our offshore leasing program.

"Mr. Cruickshank will have to fill very big shoes in my book.  His predecessor was Ms. Johnny Burton, the longest serving Director in the history of the Minerals Management Service.  Ms. Burton retired from government service last month.  She is highly regarded by so many of us.  We will miss her and we wish her well.

"Lastly, I want to welcome our two witnesses from Alaska, who have traveled great distances to be with us today.  Onshore Alaska is the second-ranked oil-producing State; however, its Outer Continental Shelf remains a new frontier.

"I especially welcome Mr. Bob Juettner who represents the area of Alaska adjacent to one of the newest prospects for energy development in Alaska, the North Aleutian Basin.  Fishing has been the primary economic activity of the Bristol Bay region.  Bristol Bay's fisheries are spectacular by any measure and shouldn't be minimized.  This is an area where the local people want to determine, through the process, whether both energy development and commercial fishing can take place in harmony.  The Gulf of Mexico is a wonderful example where it has.  In the continental United States, 34 percent of our nation's seafood comes from the Gulf of Mexico.  At the same time, the Gulf of Mexico is the source of 20 percent of our nation's domestic natural gas and 30 percent of our oil.

"The assumption that these two activities cannot take place in harmony is a myth by those who want one activity to exclude the other.  However, I believe that the local people should have the most say and so I look forward to Mr. Juettner's testimony.

"We are all here today to talk about the importance of the OCS leasing program.  One of the few silver linings from Hurricanes Rita and Katrina was the incredible safety and environmental record of the platforms in the Gulf.  There were no major spills and it was a testament to our engineers and to our safety managers. 

"However, a painful lesson was taught in the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina when we temporarily lost 20 percent of our domestic natural gas and 30 percent of our domestic oil.  Prices skyrocketed and our constituents suffered.

"It makes me uncomfortable that the entire OCS program was put at risk during Speaker Pelosi's First 100 Hours with H.R. 6.  H.R. 6 would undermine this hearing.   We learned from the Administration during our "Royalties at Risk" hearing that the takings litigation that Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Rahall's bill would likely trigger could bring a three year injunction on OCS production and cost us $13 billion dollars.   H.R. 6 would make this hearing moot and irrelevant.  That legislation passed this House by a vote of 264 to163.

"It's legislation that's not good for our country, it's not good for government revenues and it's not good for energy security.

"Again, I look forward to the testimony and discussion. I just ask that all things be put in perspective.  Welcome to you all and thank you again Mr. Chairman."

For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:

http://republicans.resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.shtml

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Steve Hansen

Director of Communications

Republican Staff

U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources

1329 Longworth HOB

Washington, D.C. 20515

(202) 225-7749

 
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