Resources Committee Democrats Take a Stand Against Offshore Drilling

The House Energy and Minerals subcommittee tackles the dirty issue of offshore drilling. Fisherman and tribal member Justin Solet speaks to the real community impacts in Louisana from the fossil fuel industry and the need for renewable energy. 

“Who do you believe benefits more from this energy dominance—the oil companies or the American people?” The answer to Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove’s question is, of course, Big Oil. At the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Energy and Minerals subcommittee hearing on July 27, 2023, the focus was on offshore oil and gas leasing. The Majority on the subcommittee brought in multiple pro-oil witnesses whose arguments for why we need more offshore oil and gas leasing were not based in fact. 

Oil and gas companies don’t need more of our oceans. Big Oil already holds thousands of unused leases to drill on public lands and waters. Right now, the industry holds enough leases to drill in roughly 11.3 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico, an area that would cover more than half the state of South Carolina. 

“Companies are profiting off a volatile global market by pushing domestic prices higher while communities here at home continue to suffer from the impacts of oil and gas development. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call an oil cartel.” 

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) emphasized the need to transition to justly sourced renewable energy and the reasons why her office recently introduced the Nonrestrictive Offshore Wind (NOW) Act.

Justin Solet is a tribal member of the United Houma Nation, a commercial fisherman, and a 10-year veteran of the Gulf oil fields. In his powerful testimony, he made it clear that “what we’re fighting for is the right for the people of Louisiana to remain in their homes, have clean air to breathe, and clean water to drink.” The people of the Gulf Coast have been at the frontline of this dirty industry for too long. Solet memorably shared: “The generational scars that have been left on my people, the land, and the waters we hold sacred—in the name of industry—are still painful today.”

Mr. Solet at the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Hearing.

Justin Solet at the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Hearing on July 27, 2023



The Republican committee members, by contrast, repeated tired claims that deny climate change, despite it being the warmest month on earth since records began in 1850. In what has become a theme of repeated attacks on the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, antienvironmental members of the committee went after the critically endangered Rice’s whale, the Gulf’s only great whale species, whose population in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has fallen to about 50 animals. Representatives Seth Magaziner (D-RI) and Mullin (D-CA) also pointed to the community impacts of the fossil fuel industry, the need to transition to clean energy, and the urgent need to act on climate.

The decision about the future of offshore leasing has major climate implications. More leasing means more pollution in our air and waters and puts our coasts, communities, and marine life at risk of another major oil spill. Coastal voters overwhelmingly oppose new drilling and want to see the administration protect marine life and coastlines from oil spills and pollution. In fact, there is a new public petition calling for no new offshore oil and oil gas leasing. 

We cannot forget that the fossil fuel industry impacts real people and communities, like those in the Gulf south, who are stuck with the consequences of pollution and oil spills. As Solet so eloquently put it, “When can our communities begin to thrive, instead of always being resilient?”

The Biden administration’s five-year offshore oil and gas program that will be announced in September has major implications for the future of our planet. Join us in asking for no new offshore oil and gas leasing.

Related Issues
Fossil Fuels

Related Blogs