'The only way that moratorium can continue is if we pass legislation to continue it'

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), in a House floor speech following several Democrats' remarks about the need for so-called "use it or lose it" legislation on July 24.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), in a House floor speech following several Democrats' remarks about the need for so-called "use it or lose it" legislation on July 24:

"Another week has gone by, and we have taken no action whatsoever, no action whatsoever to solve the energy crisis. I listened to the majority leader talking about what's going on next week as far as legislative action is concerned, and he said that even if there were more oil leases available, he said there are no drills available.

"Well, if there are no drills available and the oil companies feel that there is oil down there, they are going to make drills that would be available. The problem is on the oil leases that are available right now, the oil companies aren't finding sufficient oil to be able to put up a $2 billion oil platform to drill, and we are only using 3% of our Outer Continental Shelf for drilling purposes and for these leases.

"If we make more of the continental shelf available these oil companies are going to get out there, they are going to get these oil leases, and they will find oil. Geologically they will survey it. They will find oil, and they will drill. They will find the drilling capacity, they will find the drilling equipment, they will build the $2 billion platforms, and they will drill. But they will have to make sure it's economically feasible, or they won't do that.

"You know, if we have more production, we are going to have lower [gasoline] prices, there is just no question about that. Every week that we go out of here like today, we are ending another week, we are going home, we haven't done anything to increase the supply which will lead to lower gas prices and lower energy prices.

"I listened to the hyperbole during these talks on the floor. I listened to everybody giving reasons why we are not doing this or why we are not doing that, and the fact of the matter is we are not doing anything, and the American people are still suffering. They are spending $70, $80, $90 just to fill their gas tanks. They don't know what they are going to do. They can't get to work, they can't take their kids to school. It's affecting everything that we buy, our clothes, our food, everything.

"As a result, we are facing not only energy problems, we are facing an economic problem, an inflationary problem. We are not doing a darn thing about it.

"We need to drill wherever we can to find oil, in the [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], if necessary, off the continental shelf. We need to open up the other 97% of the continental shelf to drilling. If we do that I guarantee you, I guarantee there will be leases, and the oil companies will find the platforms necessary and the drilling equipment necessary to drill for that oil. If they can make money doing it, they are going to do it.

"The leases they have right now, if they are not going to find oil down there, it's not sufficient, they are not going to put a $2 billion platform down there and drill for that oil. That's why we need to open up more of these areas of the continental shelf for drilling.

"Remember, and I hope the American people listen to this, 97% of the continental shelf is not being explored or even allowed to be explored. That's terrible. We know we need energy, and we are sending $700 billion to the Saudis, to South America and other countries when we had that energy right here in America.

"Somebody said, well, it will take 10 years to get that oil to market if we drill for it. Well, I don't think it will take that long, but let's say it does. We need to get started sometime, and we were going to start in the 1970s, and we didn't do anything. We are in a worse situation today than when we had the oil embargo.

"We need to start. We need to move toward energy independence.

"I will submit to you that before the end of this session, before Sept. 30, we have an opportunity to end the moratorium on drilling off the continental shelf and elsewhere. The moratorium on drilling off on the continental shelf and elsewhere in this country expires Sept. 30. The only way that moratorium can continue is if we pass legislation to continue it. So I believe, and I know that there will be legislation before this body and the end of September that will extend that moratorium.

"I would like to say to my colleagues, both Democrat and Republicans, we need to vote against that moratorium extension. If it's in a spending bill or any other kind of a bill, we need to stop that bill from being passed as long as that moratorium is in there, because the American people are demanding, demanding that we do something about this energy crisis. They are demanding that we move toward energy independence.

"They want alternative fuels. They want alternative sources of energy. They want solar, they want wind, they want all of that. We have seen all of that on television, but during this transition period, they want energy. The only way we are going to get it is to drill for gas and oil.

"We can do that if we end that moratorium. I would like to say to my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, let's get together in the next month, end that moratorium, not allow any legislation to go through that will extend that moratorium, so we can move toward energy independence.

"If you don't believe that the people in this country are concerned about it, go to any gas station in this country, the next week when you are home or next weekend when you are home, and you will find that everybody is madder than hell about this. I was getting gas the other day, and I heard a guy say to his child, 'Come here, son, do you want to help me spend some of your college education?'

"I am not kidding. He didn't know I was there. He had a pickup truck, and he said to his son, 'Come here, I want you to see how we are spending part of your college education.' We need to move toward energy independence, we need to drill, and we need to do it now."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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