'This industry can help lay the bridge to a more secure energy future'

US Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), addressing US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in her testimony at the US Department of the Interior's Apr. 8 hearing in New Orleans about a draft proposed five-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing plan:

"First, let me begin by saying that I and many people here share your vision for energy security for our country. We would like to reach for energy independence, but we are certain we can achieve energy security.

"That begins, in our view, by supporting the domestic oil and gas industry. This industry has changed and developed rapidly and significantly, in terms of becoming more environmentally sensitive.

"I was in Rep. Charles Boustany and Rep. Charlie Melancon's districts yesterday in South Louisiana touring some of our front-line oil and gas independent companies to relate to you that it looks more like the space industry than the old-fashioned rigs and derricks. The breadth and depth of this technology that allows to us find these resources 10,000 feet below sea level, and to find it safely and securely, to deliver to American homes and businesses is truly breathtaking.

"I come today to urge you to look very hard at the proposed tax increases that would diminish the muscle and power of this industry that has served this country so well for so long. It helped to win the Second World War. We helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution. This oil and gas industry, with the right environmental safeguards and regulations, can help lay the bridge to a more secure energy future.

"One of the things I wanted to stress this morning, and it is very important for our delegations to continue to say this, is that there are large differences between large, integrated oil and gas corporations and the thousands of small, independent exploration production companies.

"Exxon, Chevron, Shell and other large corporations that we're familiar with raise their capital through public offerings, spreading risks among many shareholders. But our thousands of independent companies that are in all of our districts through Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana invest large sums of personal money, taking on personal risk. As a result, it is clear that a corporation's capacity to acquire large amounts of capital is much greater, and the personal risks are lower than for our independents.

"In addition, small independent companies employ a tremendous number of people. Independents produce 82 percent of domestic gas and 68 percent of U.S. oil. They virtually reinvest 100 percent of their money right here in America. So as we search for security and independence, and President [Barack H.] Obama looks to create jobs in America, let's start with supporting our nation's oil and gas industry."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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