Mr. Speaker, down in the depths of the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico lies some old Spanish galleon with unrecovered gold, but there is another type of gold in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, black gold. We call it crude oil. There is also white gold there as well. We call it natural gas.

These natural gold reserves are energy for today's Americans and we need to drill for these gold reserves. According to the Department of Energy, families across the United States will experience winter heating bills that will be up to 50 percent higher for those who heat with natural gas. This alarming data is yet another reason for us to open up the Outer Continental Shelf and begin drilling for more natural gas and oil off our own coastlines.

The so-called global warming will not keep Americans warm this winter. We have got to become more self-sufficient when it comes to energy, natural gas and crude oil. It borders on the absurd to continue to be held hostage by foreign countries and foreign oil and ignore the billions of barrels that have yet to be drilled off the United States coastline.

Mr. Speaker, I have introduced H.R. 3811 to help relieve our energy woes and help stop U.S. dependence on foreign oil. This legislation will allow for safe oil and natural gas exploration along the Outer Continental Shelf. This bill would do away with all the moratoriums and executive orders that limit leasing activities while maintaining environmental.

Right now 90 percent of our coastline is off limits to drilling because the Federal Government prohibits it. In this chart, Mr. Speaker, I show the three places off the coast of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi where we drill. All the red here, these are sacred places where we cannot drill for oil. Maybe Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi ought to join OPEC.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, we have got to drill off these other areas because there is oil and there is natural gas in these areas off our Outer Continental Shelf.

It is a myth, Mr. Speaker, that we cannot drill offshore safely. The best experts in the world are from the United States and they know how to drill safely. It is a myth perpetrated on the American people by environmental extremists. No one wants polluted waters. I certainly do not, but we can have both safe drilling and environmentally correct drilling as well.

Let us look at some of the facts, Mr. Speaker. This chart shows pollution from oil, crude oil. Most of the pollution that is in our oceans comes from nature itself, from seepage on the bottom of the ocean. About 63 percent comes from nature; 32 percent comes from jet skis and oil runoff from American soil; 3 percent comes from those tankers that are bringing crude oil in from the Middle East; and way down here 2 percent of the pollution of crude oil comes from offshore drilling. It is a myth to think that we cannot drill offshore in a correct, an environmentally correct way.

The National Academy For Sciences has furnished this information. The American public needs to know the truth about offshore drilling. If coastlines like Florida are worried about the environmental threats, maybe they should stop people from using jet skis and boating because more than a quarter of the spills come from just that. But maybe we should do some research.

According to the Department of Interior, since 1985 more than 7 billion barrels of oil were produced in Federal offshore waters, with less than .001 percent spilled. That is a 99.99 percent record for clean operations. My Jeep leaks more oil than this.

Katrina and Rita hit the coastline very hard, Mr. Speaker. There were high winds, billions of dollars in damages, refineries were closed, but we did not hear anything about oil spills from offshore rigs that were damaged. Why? Because it cannot occur. Even those violent ladies of the gulf could not get a good oil spill to happen.

People in these coastal States want cheap gasoline. They want natural gas, but they say do not drill off our coastlines. Mr. Speaker, this is hypocritical and it violates common sense. Plus, leasing these reserves will bring money to the United States Treasury and to State governments.

If Americans expect to continue driving and heating their homes at low prices, we must begin safe drilling in other places besides the gulf. Economies on the coast rely heavily on tourism and they voice concerns about the so-called environmental impact. Mr. Speaker, if fuel costs continue to rise, the planes and automobiles will be used less and these tourists will never show up at these coastal places. It seems like the consequences of higher gas prices could have a worse impact than an innocent oil rig that is 100 miles off the coast.

Around the world nearly every other major country with oil and gas reserves is promoting investment and developing their offshore capacity. They even drill in the North Sea, the roughest waters in the world, and they do so safely.

Mr. Speaker, we need to continue to explore the Outer Continental Shelf or we will suffer the consequences. Someone has said we will freeze in the dark and end up riding bicycles if we do not use common sense. Mr. Speaker, that is just the way it is.