U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today after the U.S. Department of the Interior released a five-year Draft Proposed Program (DPP) for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing.
A full transcript of Cassidy’s remarks is below.
CASSIDY: Republicans just passed the largest tax reform package in 30-something years and middle America will go home in February with bigger paychecks than they did—I say in February, it will take that long for the IRS to update their software—and they will go home with more money in their pocket.
Now, if there’s been a theme of the Trump Administration, it’s that they want those working Americans, those middle-class Americans, to do better under this president than they did under the previous eight years. Mr. President, that tax reform package is part of that.
And I’m just amazed that my Democratic colleagues objected to it. They objected to middle Americans having more money in their pocket and their take home pay for no other reason, I think, than to resist President Trump.
Well, what I am about to speak to as well speaks to better jobs, better wages for working Americans, for those middle-class families.
This afternoonk Mr. President, the U.S. Department of Interior released the Trump Administration’s Draft Proposed Program for offshore oil and gas leasing. This proposal would mean more affordable energy made right here in the United States of America, and by the way, that’s good news for American workers and families. I commend President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke for their commitment to supporting American workers and making America energy dominant.
For decades, past administrations have handcuffed American energy manufacturers by restricting offshore leases to the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico. You can only drill there, not elsewhere. Past plans left 90 percent of the U.S. offshore resources off limit to energy producers, and in the process, saying “no” to thousands of good-paying American jobs and billions of dollars in offshore investment. When I say offshore I mean off the American shore, but creating jobs here in the United States of America.
The Trump Administration’s proposal rejects the status quo and puts American workers and families first. It would open areas with significant oil and gas potential—areas off the coast of Alaska, in the Atlantic and Pacific, and portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Now, what are the ramifications of this? According to one study, opening the Eastern Gulf of Mexico would create nearly 230,000 new American jobs by 2035. It would bring roughly $115 billion of investment to the United States. Federal, state and local governments would collect an additional $70 billion in tax revenue by 2035. Not because rates are going up, no, rates have now gone down, but rather people are making more money. And because they are making more money, at lower rates, federal, state and local tax receipts continue to increase.
American energy production would be boosted by about a million barrels of oil, making our country more secure.
Now let’s take a look at the state-by-state job increases from these lease sales. Florida, Florida gets the biggest gain of all: 87,000 new jobs by 2035. Texas, 62,000. My home state of Louisiana would add 31,000 new jobs. Alabama, 21,000. Mississippi, 12,000. And the rest of the United States, 15,000 new jobs.
Now, I know some of my colleagues across the aisle, including my Democratic colleague from Florida, have expressed concerns about this energy production plan’s impact on fishing and military training in the Gulf of Mexico. But let’s remember, oil and gas manufacturers have co-existed with other activities for decades. And I share my colleagues’ interest in protecting our communities, business, and the environment. The reality is that these goals are not mutually exclusive, especially on the Gulf Coast.
Let me use Louisiana as an example. According to NOAA, Louisiana has four of the 10 top ports in the country by volume and value of seafood landed. In 2016, two Louisiana ports alone received more than 670 million pounds of seafood landed in the Gulf. This is in addition to the oil and gas production off of our coast. Together with Texas, our two states accounted for half of U.S. shrimp landings.
NOAA also reports that roughly half of the jobs in commercial and recreational fishing in the Gulf exist in states where there is also oil and gas production. Recreationally, Gulf anglers accounted for 33 percent of fishing trips, which equals 39 percent of the total U.S. catch.
Of course, more than 85 percent of recreational landings were in inland estuaries or state territorial waters. Most of the oil and gas activity were discussing today is in deeper, federal waters, many miles away. Again, the Gulf Coast is a working coast, and it’s been proven over the decades that multiple industries can successfully co-exist.
When my colleague from Florida brought up his concerns about potential conflicts with the Department of Defense operations in the Gulf of Mexico, I took that very seriously. Ensuring that our military is equipped to train and test is vitally important.
However, it’s simply not true that the Eastern Gulf of Mexico must be completely free of energy production in order for the military to conduct operations. Our military’s own testing data from the last five years makes that very clear.
This map shows all the Department of Defense testing done in the last five years in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Department of Defense used only 19 percent of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico during the last 5 years. Or to put it differently, 81 percent of the Gulf went untouched.
But when you look at the space, when you look even more closely at the space regularly used by our military, it becomes clearer that this objection to energy production in the Eastern Gulf does not pass the smell test.
This is the panhandle of Florida. Right here is the state of Alabama. For those who are interested in it, the Florabama bar is right there. And this is where folks from Louisiana love to go and enjoy themselves.
This is, if you will, zoomed in on the last map, and shows spaces the military used for more than 14 days during that five-year period. So out of five years, these are the spaces used for than more than 14 days not per year, but over the five years. Only 0.5 percent of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico was used by the Department of Defense for more than 14 days over the last five years. 0.5 percent.
That means that Department of Defense regularly uses only one out of every 200 acres in the Gulf. Now, I’ve met both with the Interior Department and the Defense Department, urging them to work together to ensure the best use of federal waters. This data shows that it can be done.
I’m confident that under the Trump Administration’s proposal, we can provide thousands of Americans with good paying jobs, boost our energy manufacturing and security, strengthen our economy, and do it in a way that is environmentally responsible and protects our communities.
I applaud today’s announcements because it will make a true difference for our country and for the American people. The American worker who has not done well over the last eight years, but under this administration has begun to do well, and this is the next step to making sure that his and her future is as bright as it ever could be.