Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full Committee hearing on the Report to the President from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 10:00 am

Thank you, Madam Chair, for scheduling today's hearing to discuss the findings and recommendations of the President's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. 

I also want to welcome Chairman Reilly, and welcome Senator Graham back to the Senate; I appreciate their work on this important report.  I think we all can agree that the commission did a terrific job arranging a massive volume of complex information, releasing it in readable form, and doing it under budget. 

I support some of the commission's conclusions and recommendations, while I have problems with others.  There are specific issues raised by the commission that fall under the jurisdiction of this committee, including reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to the Oil Pollution Act.  I look forward to hearing from the co-chairs on these important issues.

The commission calls for greater, more effective safety regulations.  I don't think we need more regulations, but they can certainly be more effective.  And to be effective, regulations must not be an obstacle to increasing our domestic production.  As Chairman Reilly himself recently put it, "We vitally need the resources of offshore oil and gas, that's where the future lies.  This industry is a major contributor to our supplies and will become a significantly more important contributor in the future." 

And what of our domestic supplies?  According to the Congressional Research Service, America's combined recoverable natural gas, oil, and coal endowment is the largest on Earth.  In fact, America's recoverable resources are far larger than those of Saudi Arabia, China, and Canada combined.

Despite this, the Obama Administration has made a conscious policy choice to block domestic production.  Consider the proposed rule by the new regulatory body in the Department of Interior overseeing offshore production.  Here's what it said about the regulations it proposed late last year:

"The impact on domestic deepwater hydrocarbon production as a result of these regulations is expected to be negative...Currently there is sufficient spare capacity in OPEC to offset a decrease in GOM deepwater production that could occur as a result of this rule." [Emphasis added]

In other words, the Obama Administration is admitting what is simply a matter of common sense: if we decrease production, we will increase our dependence on foreign oil. 

This is the inevitable result of the Obama Administration's cap-and-trade agenda.  EPA is moving forward with regulations that will restrict, impede, and stop domestic energy production.  Energy prices therefore will go up; as President Obama put it, "electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket." 

This is the wrong approach.  I agree with the commission that we should protect the workers who supply the energy we take for granted every day and protect the environment.  But I also agree with the commission that we should produce our own resources, which are the largest in the world.  In fact, we should increase that production.  I hope that the Obama Administration will agree, too.