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OLSON PUSHES FOR LOCAL CONTROL OVER GULF COAST RESORTATION EFFORTS

Washington, DC- Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) today testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee to urge passage of the RESTORE Act. This legislation would give Gulf Coast states greater authority over how and where Deep Water Horizon spill penalty money will be spent.

The statement below as delivered:

"Thank you, Chairman Gibbs, and thank you Ranking Member Napolitano for holding this hearing to examine the importance of the RESTORE Act.  Seated before you, are Members who represent the people who live and work in the Gulf States.  While each of us were impacted differently by the Deepwater Horizon Spill, we have worked together to build a consensus to best address the challenges facing our states.  

"When considering the economic recovery needs of the Gulf Coast, a one-size-fits-all will not work.  Gulf Coast communities know what they need for recovery. It's critical that any economic response reflects local priorities.  In the 22nd district of Texas, which I represent, a significant portion of jobs are connected to manufacturers and small companies that rely on the offshore energy industry.

"This is an industry still reeling from the Obama Administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  The moratorium was only supposed to affect deepwater drilling, but in reality, it impacted shallow water permits as well.  As a result, family owned companies with generations of experience lost work as the drilling operations they supported moved operations out of the Gulf of Mexico.  Hundreds of thousands of industrial, engineering, manufacturing, construction, and support jobs were impacted.

"The drilling moratorium has technically been lifted, but the “de facto moratorium”, also known as the “permatorium”, remains through the slow permitting process with devastating economic consequences.  There have been signs of recovery, but energy jobs in the Gulf are still well below the levels before the Deepwater Horizon Accident.  While offshore activity is finally expected to return to pre-moratorium levels by mid-next year, we are still well below projected levels.  

"The RESTORE Act will ensure that each state can address their specific recovery needs.  Passing the RESTORE Act will bring us one step closer to the long term ecological and economic recovery that the Gulf States most directly hurt by the spill desperately need.

"This bill and its Senate companion will ensure a full recovery from the spill.  As you hear testimony from the expert witnesses here today, I ask that you keep something in mind.  Reversing the effects of Deepwater Horizon is not just a regional interest, it's a national priority. The Gulf of Mexico supplies 30% of our nation's energy and is a powerful economic engine.  The damage occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Communities along the Gulf Coast should be able to allocate the penalty money where it will be the most beneficial without bureaucratic interference.

"I thank you for allowing me to testify before you today, and look forward to working with this committee as the RESTORE Act moves through the committee process."

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Media Contact: Melissa Kelly

202-225-5951