Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), a senior member on the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, today spoke in strong opposition to H.R. 21, the Strategic Production Response Act. Congressman Cicilline proposed an amendment to this bill to protect New England’s coastal waters and the contiguous waters of New York from offshore drilling for oil and gas, safeguarding Rhode Island’s coastal economy and environment.
In speaking on the bill, Congressman Cicilline said, “A poll was released today [that] 73% of Americans think that the Republican leadership has the wrong priorities. And today, we consider a bill which demonstrates how true those poll’s results are. With this bill, the Republicans are giving a big wet kiss to Big Oil. This legislation would make it impossible or nearly impossible for the President to lower gas prices by strategically releasing petroleum reserves. And what’s more startling is this isn’t even necessary. There are over 9,000 leases available right now where drilling is not taking place. Why? Because big oil wants to keep the price up high to maximize their profits and continue to gouge the American consumers.”
To protect Rhode Island’s coastal economy and way of life, the Congressman proposed an amendment to exclude areas off the coast of New England or New York under federal jurisdiction from any plan for increased drilling on federal lands or waters required by H.R. 21.
The Congressman urged his colleagues to support the amendment, saying, “In Rhode Island and throughout New England, the health of our coasts is sacred. Rhode Island’s coastline supports good paying jobs and economic growth in every city and town across our state. Make no mistake, this legislation would have catastrophic effects on the oceans and many of the other invaluable natural resources that we hold so dear and that we’re obligated to protect. While my colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to place the profits of Big Oil above all else, I oppose these dangerous and shortsighted policies at every turn and am committed to protecting my constituents and the communities that I represent.”
The amendment, which received bipartisan support, would have protected the more than 467,000 Rhode Islanders employed by the coastal economy, who contribute $59.3 billion in GDP annually, according to the NOAA Office for Coastal Management. Without this amendment, Rhode Island’s key coastal industries like tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and boating could all be at serious risk from H.R. 21. The legislation is not expected to move forward in the Senate, and President Biden has vowed to veto it should it reach his desk.
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