Strategic Production Response Act

Floor Speech

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


Mr. PANETTA. 26.


Mr. PANETTA. Mr. Chair, my amendment to H.R. 21 would exclude the central California planning area from being leased for oil and natural gas production.

The central California planning area extends from Mendocino County to Monterey County and goes out about 400 miles off the coast of California. Although much of this area is already protected by national marine sanctuaries, my amendment, if attached to H.R. 21, would bolster those protections from oil and gas drilling and stretch them further from our coastline.

Having been raised there, raising my children there, and now as the Representative for the central coast of California, I know firsthand how important our oceans and our coastlines are for our environment, for our economy, for our small businesses, for our communities, and, yes, for our future.

That is why I stand here on the shoulders of so many people who have done so many things to ensure the protection of our pristine coastline in California. From utilizing zoning laws to limiting onshore infrastructure and the designation of national marine sanctuaries, we have fought and will continue to fight to ensure that oil drilling does not happen off our California coast. That is why this amendment is so important to me and to my constituents.

Of course, my constituents are concerned with high gas prices, especially when there is an international conflict that causes gas prices to go through the roof. The strategy of releasing oil from the strategic reserve, specifically during those types of international conflicts, has been used time and time again.

In 1991, George H.W. Bush did it during the Gulf war. In 2005, George W. Bush did it during the second Gulf war. In 2011, President Obama did it due to the Libya crisis. In 2022, President Biden did it due to Russia's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

Each time that oil was released from those reserves, gas prices were reduced or remained stable. That is why I support this long-used strategy without any types of conditions attached to it. The last thing we want to do is restrict the types of tools used in the middle of a global crisis so that the President, this administration, can lower gas prices and help American families.

Let's be clear. Our families, my families that I represent on the central coast of California, we don't need drilling; we don't want oil drilling; and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent oil drilling off our coastline. Our beauty and the bounty received through our multibillion-dollar tourism and hospitality industry is worth so much more.

The future. That is why I will always be against any oil and gas drilling off the central coast of California, and why I will always be a part of the longstanding tradition of fighting to protect our environment and the future of the place that I, my family, and my constituents call home.

Mr. Chair, that is why I urge a ``yes'' vote on amendment No. 26, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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