Weekly remarks: GOP's Hutchison decries domestic energy delays; Obama says school reforms can't wait
Hi, I’m United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas.
With energy prices soaring nationwide, many American families are struggling to put gas in their cars and trucks. We are seeing the price of food and other goods rise. An overwhelming majority of Americans say gas prices are causing financial hardship for their families. And more than half say they have had to make major changes to their budgets to compensate.
Unfortunately, rather than work to increase domestic energy production and help bring down gas prices, the Obama administration is seeking to impose more regulations and taxes on oil and gas companies. This is placing our own valuable resources out of reach and stifling job creation -– their proposals will actually increase pain at the pump.
Earlier this week, Republicans put a modest bill to increase production on the floor, and Democrats couldn’t even support that with gas hovering around $4 a gallon!
Republicans have consistently called for greater access to our domestic sources of energy to spur good American jobs, and to prepare for circumstances we can’t control, like....
For nearly a year, American energy producers in the Gulf of Mexico –- our nation’s most abundant source of oil and gas outside of Alaska –- were sidelined by a drilling moratorium imposed by the administration. Exploration slowed to a halt. Thousands of American workers found themselves out of a job.
Though the moratorium was officially lifted in October, the permit approval process has been burdened by bureaucratic impediments. In energy-rich deep waters in the gulf, only 14 permits have been approved in the last full year. Before the moratorium, an average of eight deep water permits were approved every month.
A federal district court judge recently ruled that the government was ‘unlawfully and improperly’ delaying permit reviews. The federal government should be processing permits with urgency -– instead it is dragging its feet. In fact, offshore production will decrease by 13 percent next year because of the permitting delays.
The Obama administration’s moratorium will have long-term effects on energy production. While companies were forced to stop operations, they had to continue paying to lease lands they were prohibited from using. Leaseholders sat idle for a year, losing valuable exploration time through no fault of their own.
Earlier this year, I introduced the LEASE Act, a bill to restore time lost to all leaseholders who were impacted by the moratorium. It’s a simple and fair way we can bring these energy producers the equity they deserve. We can help them put their workers back on the job. The House has already passed its own version of this bill. I hope the Senate will also pass it soon.
Our country needs a long-term policy that provides energy from our own ample natural resources. We can provide a clean environment and affordable energy for our nation’s families and businesses.
It is not enough for the president to talk about producing energy in America. We call on him to put policies in place that cut the bureaucratic red tape and put Americans to work doing it.
A comprehensive energy policy can’t be driven by gas prices or polling numbers. It requires a steady approach that will result in a stable supply of energy. We have an abundance of oil and natural gas –- now we need to access it. Tapping our own vast resources will help lower energy costs for Americans, add high-paying jobs to our economy, and strengthen our security for future generations. I’m Kay Bailey Hutchison. Thank you for listening. ####
This week, I went to Memphis, Tennessee, where I spoke to the graduating class of Booker T. Washington High School. Graduations are always happy occasions. But this commencement was especially hopeful -– because of just how much the kids at Booker T. Washington High School had overcome.
This is a school in the middle of a tough neighborhood in South Memphis. There’s a lot of crime. There’s a lot of poverty. And just a few years ago, only about half of the students at the school graduated. Just a handful went off to college each year.
But folks came together to change all that. Under the leadership of a dynamic principal and devoted teachers, they started special academies for ninth-graders –- because they found that that’s when a lot of kids were lost. They made it possible for students to take AP classes or vocational courses. Most importantly, they didn’t just change the curriculum; they created a culture that prizes hard work and discipline, and that shows every student that they matter.
Today, four out five students at the school earn a diploma. Seventy percent continue their education, many the first in their families to go to college. So Booker T. Washington High School is no longer a story about what’s gone wrong in education. It’s a story about how we can set it right.
We need to encourage this kind of change all across America. We need to reward the reforms that are driven not by Washington, but by principals and teachers and parents. That’s how we’ll make progress in education -– not from the top down, but from the bottom up. And that’s the guiding principle of the Race to the Top competition my administration started two years ago.
The idea is simple: If states show that they’re serious about reform, we’ll show them the money. And it’s already making a difference throughout the country. In Tennessee, where I met those students, they’ve launched an innovative residency program so that new teachers can be mentored by veteran educators. In Oregon, Michigan and elsewhere, grants are supporting the work of teachers who are lengthening the school day, offering more specialized classes, and making the changes necessary to improve struggling schools.
Our challenge now is to allow all 50 states to benefit from the success of Race to the Top. We need to promote reform that gets results while encouraging communities to figure out what’s best for their kids. That why it’s so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year –- so schools have that flexibility. Reform just can’t wait.
And if anyone doubts this, they ought to head to Booker T. Washington High. They ought to meet the inspiring young people who overcame so much, and worked so hard, to earn their diplomas –- in a school that believed in their promise and gave them the opportunity to succeed. We need to give every child in America that chance. That’s why education reform matters. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend. ####
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Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images; Hutchison's office;Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images; Lance Murphey / EPA (Obama at Memphis graduation, May 16).