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April 24, 2007
Opening Statement's From Today's Joint Oversight Hearing
On Renewable Energy Opportunities & Issues
On The Outer Continental Shelf
Washington, D.C. - The following are the opening statement's of U.S. Reps. Stevan Pearce's (R-NM) and U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, Jr. (R-SC) from today's Joint Oversight Hearing with the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans. Today's hearing focused on the review of renewable ocean energy opportunities and issues in the outer continental shelf (OCS).
Pearce is the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and Brown is the Ranking Member on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans.
Ranking Member Pearce's Statement
"In one of our recent Energy Policy Act of 2005 hearings, we learned that increased natural gas prices have cost the American consumer $65 billion more per year for electricity than they paid in 2000. We also learned that because of higher natural gas prices, we've lost three million manufacturing jobs (that's 18 percent of manufacturing jobs) since 2000. These are jobs that have left for China and India and they are not coming back.
"Unfortunately, with our people and businesses starved for more natural gas supply, less than three percent of our Outer Continental Shelf is being leased for oil and gas production. This is true 'Access Denied' to energy.
"Today's hearing focuses on renewable energy opportunities on the Outer Continental Shelf. I welcome the hearing, as I think our nation's oceans are filled with untapped renewable energy resources. I hope that the purpose of this hearing is to make sure that access to these renewable energy resources is not also denied, as we need a diverse supply of energy to keep our economy strong, keep our people safe, and keep our way of life.
"Some of the technologies we will hear about today, like tidal energy and wave energy, are in the early stages of development and I suspect years from true large scale commercialization. In contrast, other technologies, like wind energy, are known and nearly commercial in other areas of the world.
"The mission is for OCS renewable energy projects to become a reality in this country. The federal government should not and can not be the hang-up. Rather, it should be the facilitator and aid. As lead agency pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, I expect the Department of the Interior to work diligently to lease and regulate these projects in an environmentally sound way. I also expect the Department to work collaboratively and efficiently with its sister agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to regulate these projects.
"The policy objectives of these two agencies are to regulate and oversee energy industries in the economic, environmental, and safety interests of the American public. Their mission is to make energy projects happen and I am looking forward to seeing progress on OCS renewable energy projects.
"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.
Ranking Member Brown's Statement
"Good afternoon, as most of you know I represent over 75 percent of the coastline of South Carolina. My district includes places such as Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Kiawah Island and the tourism industry is a major part of my district's economy as well as a major part of the economy of the state of South Carolina.
"A major part of the tourism industry in South Carolina involves the recreational fishing and boating communities. I am very concerned about how underwater turbines, above water wind mills and wave technology will impact the recreational fishing and boating communities as well as the commercial fishing industry.
"As you can imagine offshore drilling is a very controversial subject in coastal South Carolina. I would never do anything that I thought would harm the tourism industry of my district or the beauty of coastal Carolina. With that being said I am supportive of drilling off the Outer Continental Shelf because I believe that it is the right thing to do.
"I believe that offshore drilling is an important part of the solution to fix the energy crisis that we are all facing today in America. It is also an important step to stop America's dependency of foreign sources of energy. Becoming more energy self sufficient is not only an economic issue but also an issue of national security.
"We must examine measures that will wean this country from its dependency on foreign energy and establish a new level of independence by utilizing the natural resources that we have here in America.
"Last Congress, I was fortunate to attend a Resources Committee Field Hearing on 'Renewable Ocean Energy' in Congresswoman Thelma Drake's Congressional District in Norfolk, Virginia.
"I was impressed with the potential of ocean, wave and tide energy but I am concerned at the cost and the practicality of using exclusively renewable ocean energy without incorporating natural gas development off the Outer Continental Shelf into an overall national strategy for the future of energy development for our nation.
"I strongly believe the research and development of renewable energy as an important tool for our nation's future energy needs. The problem is that currently the Unites States imports around 62 percent of its energy from foreign and sometimes unfriendly sources.
"We must develop an energy plan similar to other nations such as Canada and Norway that utilize all of their nation's energy resources including natural gas as well as renewable sources of energy.
"I look forward to hearing the witness' testimony."
For more information, access the Committee on Natural Resources' Minority website at:
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