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We need a comprehensive energy policy that will meet America's energy needs, lower rates for consumers and businesses, and reduce the tremendous burden being imposed on our farmers. With this bill, the Senate had an opportunity to take a comprehensive approach, but unfortunately Republicans blocked efforts to improve the bill and left us with a flawed proposal that I could not support.



Our country needs to do more domestically to meet our energy needs rather than continuing to rely so heavily on imported oil, but this bill imposes too high a price on Washington state and misdirects resources away from American taxpayers to just a few states.



Washington state's coastline must continue to be protected from offshore oil and gas drilling, and that is one of the reasons why I voted against this proposal. S.3711 only protected the coastline off Florida, but did not protect Washington or any other coastal state. Republican leadership prevented other states from gaining same protections as Florida. The House version of this bill lifts a long-standing moratorium that prevents drilling off Washington's coast. I'm very concerned that without a provision protecting Washington, once the Senate version is conferenced with the House version, Washington state will lose its current protection.



I also opposed this bill because it would divert nearly 40% of the revenue generated from leases under this bill to just four states. The cost to American taxpayers is estimated to be $170 billion over 60 years. As we face massive deficits and a costly war in Iraq, now is not the time to divert these funds to a handful of states. The Gulf Coast states certainly deserve help rebuilding, but changing our policy on America's natural resources is not the way to do it.



I'm deeply disappointed that we were not allowed to resolve my concerns and were not allowed to add provisions on biofuels, alternative energy and renewable fuels.



As this bill moves forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues from Washington state to fight for our region, our consumers, our farmers and our future.