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Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 24, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my amendment to the ``Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act'', H.R. 4447.

I thank my colleague from California, Congressman Lowenthal--the chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources--for his support as the amendment's cosponsor.

I also want to commend Congressman Pallone--the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee--for his leadership with the omnibus clean energy bill before the House today.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act subjects offshore mineral or energy development to U.S. jurisdiction, including the Constitution and applicable federal laws.

Specifically, this 1953 law applies the civil and political jurisdiction of the United States to installations on the Outer Continental Shelf in the United States' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) at sea.

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the U.S. Department of the lnterior--acting through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management-- conducts lease sales for offshore development of mineral and energy resources, indulging wind lease sales.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Secretary of the Interior's exclusive offshore wind leasing and permitting authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Our amendment simply clarifies that lease sales for energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf from non-minerals--sources other than oil and natural gas such as wind, hydrokinetic, or ocean thermal energy conversion--are indeed subject to U.S. jurisdiction, including federal laws affording labor and environmental protections.

Congress clearly intended U.S. law to apply to any form of exploration, development, production, transportation, and transmission of energy resources under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Again, all our amendment does is clarify that all forms of offshore energy development are indeed subject to the same U.S. laws that currently apply to the offshore oil and gas industry.

In the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives passed our amendment language, nearly verbatim, by voice vote as the ``POWER Act'' (H.R. 2360).

According to an April 2018 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, offshore wind along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States has the potential to eclipse all current land-based wind development.

Demand for offshore wind projects in federal waters is strong, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sets record lease sales in the Atlantic, to the benefit of American taxpayers.

In short order, we may see similar demand for federal lease sales for offshore wind elsewhere in the country, including off the West Coast or the U.S. territories.

Offshore wind development will play a central part in our nation's transition to a clean energy economy powered by renewables.

As we welcome this burgeoning industry, Congress must act decisively to clarify that any offshore wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf--including exploration, production, transportation, and transmission--is indeed subject to the same federal laws that already apply to offshore oil and gas development or underwater mining.

This is the clear and obvious intent of Congress, and my amendment simply updates the underlying federal law to reflect this reality.

As the former Deputy Secretary of the Interior during the Clinton Administration, I am a long-time proponent of all forms of renewable energy to help meet the global challenge of man-made climate change, including offshore wind development.

I urge my colleagues to support this critical amendment, simply updating the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to reflect clear Congressional intent and provide legal certainty for offshore wind projects to proceed in accordance with federal law.

Lastly, adopting our amendment to the ``Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act'' (H.R. 4447) will set the House on strong footing for any Energy Bill conference next Congress, with the Murkowski-Manchin bill expected to be passed by the Senate.

I hope this amendment will pass by voice vote as it did on December 7, 2011, during the 112th Congress.