Sens. Hutchison, Bond & Vitter Introduce Provision to Expand OCS Production under FY ‘10 Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Hutchison (R-TX), Bond (R-MO), and Vitter (R-LA) today introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Budget to expand oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf in order to minimize future gasoline price spikes and to help reduce our nation’s dependence on imported energy. Also cosponsoring the amendment are Sens. Roberts (R-KS), Inhofe (R-OK), Voinovich (R-OH), Wicker (R-MS), Brownback (R-KS), Cornyn (R-TX), Cochran (R-MS), Shelby (R-AL), Coburn (R-OK), and Barrasso (R-WY).
            S. Con. Res. 13, the FY 2010 Budget, currently includes a Deficit Neutral Reserve Fund (DNRF), which seeks to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. To achieve this goal, the Budget promotes measures including the following: the creation of green jobs; renewable energy development; establishment of a clean energy investment fund; improved electricity transmission; conservation and efficiency; the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; and preservation and protection of public lands, oceans, or coastal areas.
            However, the Budget overlooks oil and gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf.
            “As it stands, the Budget outlines several ways to decrease the need for foreign energy. A critical component of any effort to lessen dependence on imported energy is to produce more domestic energy,” said Sen. Hutchison. “While we work to develop alternative sources of energy, we must not make the mistake of overlooking the vast potential of energy resources the Outer Continental Shelf contains. Our provision will allow production of our Outer Continental Shelf resources to remain a part of our broader energy portfolio.”
“American families are struggling to survive this economic crisis and it’s critical we act now to keep energy prices low. We can’t afford to wait for the return of $4 a gallon gas to wake up to the need to increase America’s oil supplies and reduce our dependence on foreign cartels,” said Sen. Bond.
“I am proud to have worked with Senators Hutchison and Bond to bring some common sense domestic energy policy to this budget resolution,” said Sen. Vitter.  “This amendment would allow for the development of our own valuable natural resources, which would in turn reduce energy costs and help break our dependence on foreign sources of energy.  We need to start making some key decisions about how best to steer our nation out of this current economic crisis and borrowing more money from China is not how we are going to do that.  Opening up the resources of the OCS will benefit all Americans.”
            President Obama indicated during the Campaign that he was amenable to “a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy” as part of a comprehensive energy plan. (Interview with the Palm Beach Post, August 1, 2008). The Hutchison-Vitter-Bond amendment will ensure that offshore exploration and development remain a viable option under the FY 2010 Budget.
            On March 2, Sens. Hutchison, Bond, Vitter, and 31 of their colleagues sent a letter to President Obama, urging the White House to tap new domestic energy sources and expeditiously complete the Administration’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development.