Strategic Production Response Act

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 26, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 21, and I urge all my colleagues to oppose this big giveaway to Big Oil.

The bill before us today is yet another effort to open our public lands and waters to major new oil and gas extraction. This is despite the fact that oil companies already control huge amounts of our public lands and waters, most of which they don't even use.

Right now, oil and gas companies have about 9,000 approved but unused permits across 26 million acres of public land. Right now, offshore they have 2,000 active leases covering 12 million acres, three-quarters of which aren't being used.

This bill asks us to give them even more land--an area three times the size of California, or more than 300 million additional acres. Big Oil has more public land than they can use. They could expand production today if they really wanted to. Instead, they lobby Congress to open up even more lands to extraction, to lower environmental standards, and to give them more taxpayer-funded subsidies. And in the process, they lock out public land and public access from other essential uses that would contribute to the American people and contribute to the mitigation and remediation and the climate action that is required around the issue of climate and the climate crisis.

To add insult to injury, this bill would actually make it harder to help everyday Americans. It would prevent the President's ability to keep down gas prices.

Last year, President Biden took decisive action, allowing releases from the reserve to lower prices at the pump. Under this bill, if the President needed to act again to keep prices low, he would first have to pay off Big Oil by opening up our public lands.

This bill does not protect the American people, and it certainly doesn't protect our climate or environment.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''


Mr. GRIJALVA. 55 at the desk.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I believe I have made it very clear that this bill is deeply flawed from the concept to execution. While I really do hesitate to improve a bad bill, I think it is important that we acknowledge one of the bill's starkest omissions.

My amendment would simply require that while developing the plan this bill proposes, the relevant Secretaries also develop a plan to consult with Tribal Governments. This is particularly important as the bill could open up an additional 300 million acres of new oil and gas extraction on public lands.

If we really intend to give away an area three times the size of California to Big Oil, then we need to understand the impact it will have on communities across the West starting with those who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial.

It is essential that the Secretaries fully and meaningfully consult with Tribal Governments to understand the impact this extractive development would have on Tribal communities from damaging air and water to destroying sacred sites.

For too long, Tribal Governments have been excluded from Federal decisionmaking processes. We have seen the impact of that omission as homelands are degraded, sacred sites destroyed, and Tribal communities are forced to bear the brunt of pollution.

A no more important example is the example of uranium contamination that continues and the cleanup of uranium contamination that continues in around the Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation, and that has affected that community and the Navajo people for generations. It is unacceptable that we would turn a blind eye to these impacts.

Tribal Governments need to be at the table from the start helping to shape decisions that impact their communities and their ancestral lands.

This amendment would ensure that they do just that while helping to uphold the Federal Government's trust responsibility.

This shouldn't be controversial. In fact, this should have been built in from the start.

Mr. Chairman, I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.




Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, I rise to offer an amendment that would prevent this oil giveaway from further burdening communities of color, low-income communities, Tribal, and indigenous communities.

Over the past several years our late colleague, Representative McEachin and I traveled the country to hear from environmental justice and frontline communities across this Nation about pollution and climate impact. We heard the tales of water not fit to drink, air not fit to breathe, and communities not safe to live in.

For too long we have allowed the vulnerable to bear the impacts of development, leaving them to pay the costs that are incurred.

We must change that narrative by ensuring that these communities are at the decisionmaking table and that their voices are clearly heard at every level of government.

This was a legacy my dear friend and our late colleague dedicated his life to, and that is why I am proud that we will be renaming the Environmental Justice For All Act in his honor in the next several weeks.

Unfortunately, the bill in front of us today would take us further than ever from achieving environmental justice and attention to frontline communities. There is no way to open up 300 million acres to new extraction without massively impacting communities of color, low- income communities, and Tribal and indigenous communities.

These already-impacted communities would face additional pollution of their air and water, additional impacts on their health and that of their children.

My amendment seeks to avoid these unacceptable impacts, preventing the Secretaries from leasing any land that would continue to increase disproportionate burdens on already burdened communities.

We must stop putting pollution over people and put an end to the cycles of exploitation that leave the most vulnerable facing avoidable impacts.

Mr. Chair, I encourage all of my colleagues to support the environmental justice amendment and to vote ``yes'' on this amendment.

Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.




Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would ensure that this Big Oil giveaway doesn't prevent America from leading the world in clean energy production.

Rather than tethering ourselves to the energies of the past, we need to move forward with the energy of the future. The President knows that; my Democratic colleagues know that; and the American people know that. It is time we all embrace clean energy deployment.

Instead, the bill before us today would support Big Oil and only Big Oil, pushing the public off their lands while locking up acres that could be used for wind, solar, and other clean technologies.

This bill gives away public lands and waters to oil companies and gas corporations at a time when we should be taking urgent action to address the climate crisis and transition away from fossil fuels.

Public lands have huge renewable energy potential. Offshore wind alone could produce more than 2,000 gigawatts, nearly double the Nation's electricity use in 2021.

Rather than embrace this opportunity, H.R. 21 would require land managers to open lands to oil and gas but wouldn't consider other potential uses, including renewable energy.

My amendment would close this gap, requiring the Secretaries to consider the impacts to renewable deployment before leasing new lands to the fossil fuel industry.

The American people want affordable, reliable energy. They aren't interested in seeing Big Oil protect their record profits and increase their profits while boxing out and locking out developing technologies. It is time to stop prioritizing polluters over people and commit to a clean, just energy transition.

Our public lands and waters have an important role to play in reducing emissions, protecting the climate, and supporting communities. We need to make sure that they are available for renewable energy production and not locked up with fossil fuel companies.

Mr. Chair, I encourage my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.