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Mrs. FLETCHER. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to H.R. 21.
My colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that, as a Representative for the energy capital of the world in Houston, I support domestic energy production.
We produce oil and gas better. We have better environmental standards, better worker safety standards, and better emission reduction efforts and opportunities. We know it is important to produce energy domestically for our economy and for our national security.
We also know that domestic production of oil and gas is a complicated system, from upstream exploration and production to downstream refining and transportation along the way. That is why I oppose this bill. It doesn't reflect the reality of how oil and gas production works or solve the problem I think it seeks to solve.
Oil and gas production is a long and expensive process. Leases are executed many years before production begins if it begins at all.
When we are talking about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, we are talking about crude oil that has been produced and stored for emergency use. If what we are trying to do is make sure that the SPR is full and available, we should pass legislation to require the government to replenish it after sales are made, to buy when the price is low. If what we are trying to do is increase domestic production, we should be working on permitting reform and addressing issues in the capital markets that are making investments more difficult. If operators can't make the investments, build the infrastructure, and move the product, what good is a lease sale?
Today, we have heard a lot of complaints about President Biden's strategic use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has successfully lowered the prices at the pump for Americans and weakened Russia's ability to fund its unprovoked, unconscionable war against Ukraine. It has been a vital tool, as we just heard, for responding to natural disasters and energy supply shocks and mitigating hostile foreign actors at other times.
We should support all of these efforts. The response to this effort certainly should not be to make it harder to do what we have just successfully done.
That is what this bill does, placing new burdensome requirements to offer vast sums of public lands for leasing at any time mandatory sales are dictated by Congress or exchanges are implemented by the Department of Energy.
It is not the solution that my friends on the other side of the aisle seem to think that it is, and I would be glad to work with anyone here to address the real barriers to domestic energy production and support smart energy policy.
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