There is good news on the horizon for American consumers; Congress passed legislation to lessen the grip OPEC has on our countrys energy policies. I cosponsored the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (DOER) which passed Congress with bi-partisan support further showing that Members of this House hear what the American people are saying and are acting to put control of US energy policies back into the hands of Americans. This is a comprehensive bill that covers previous legislation I have filed to expand offshore drilling. Simply put, if we want to reduce energy prices, we need to explore for more energy. All the people in non-drilling coastal States want cheap gasoline and natural gas, without drilling off their own coastline. They want Texas and Louisiana to keep doing the drilling for them. As our demand for energy grows, we cannot have it both ways; cheap gasoline and refusing to drill offshore. We must do everything in our power to expand energy exploration all parts of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

This bill not only allows the United States to cultivate more of its own natural resources, but grants coastal States the power to control their own coastlines. They decide the extent to which they utilize the resources of the OCS area off their coasts and what energy exploration they will allow. States will now have the ability to control drilling rights up to 100 miles off their coast as opposed to the current 3 mile limit. This eliminates the common excuse that is ugly for tourists, even wide-eyed tourists cant see that far.

Additionally, the DOER Act will allow states to share in the leasing royalties should they choose to drill off their coast and encourage more states to participate as they will now share in the benefits from leasing rights. For my State of Texas, we have long held the belief that drilling can be done in a responsible and environmentally safe way. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita proved that we can drill safely without causing harm to the environment in even the strongest hurricanes. Now, Texas will be able to share in those leasing royalties that in the past have been exclusively limited to the federal government. These funds can be used by Texas to offset the cost of Rita, fund education for Katrina refugees or other important programs needed in the State.

The bottom line remains: the United States must be more self-sufficient when it comes to energy. The United States imports 60 percent of its crude oil from foreign countries, even though we have large quantities of oil and natural gas available in our own OCS. With much of this area off-limits to energy exploration, the United States is the only developed nation that limits access to their own natural resources. Other nations are willing to drill close to their own shores. Canada drills in the Great Lakes. Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand all drill within 50 miles of their own coastline. The Netherlands drills 20 miles off their shoes and Scotland drills just 10 miles off their coast. By limiting our ability to explore for energy we are only stifling our own energy supply, and therefore punishing our citizens with soaring energy costs.

This is a win-win bill that allows for further exploration while rewarding states that want to control their own energy supply and respecting state plans to protect sensitive environments. While it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, I encourage my colleagues to listen to the American people and do what is in the best interest of the people of the United States. We can not continue down this road of dependence on foreign oil rich nations. Thats just the way it is.