In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama challenged Congress to pass legislation that would promote job creation. I completely agree and embrace his call for a focus on our economy and jobs. But I caution that as we move forward we need to focus our work on creating opportunity, not more regulation and bureaucracy and not more bailouts and spending-heavy "stimulus" bills.
Last year I introduced a bill that will achieve what the president has called for — job creation, less burden on the family budget and a real jolt to start the engines of our economy. And my bill does it all without costing the taxpayer an additional dime. It is called the No Cost Stimulus Act.
This legislation focuses on helping create American jobs by harnessing an industry that our federal government is currently holding back through regulation. And it achieves the job-creation goal without issuing more foreign debt or raising taxes.
The No Cost Stimulus would increase domestic production of oil and gas and decrease the regulatory burden on businesses. It increases domestic production of Outer Continental Shelf resources, which have shown to be incredibly abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. And it opens up a very narrow portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas production with arguably the most stringent environmental regulations in history. It also dedicates a significant portion of the revenue created from this production to renewable energy production so that we can use our traditional energy sources as a bridge to the energy capabilities of the future.
This No Cost Stimulus bill would also streamline the environmental and judicial review requirements that slow the gears of progress in achieving our energy independence and creating new energy-related jobs.
And the No Cost Stimulus extends state boundaries so they may have more say in what happens off their coasts. Doing so provides a tool for greater production opportunities in addition to creating new prospects for individual states to increase their own revenues without having to ask the federal government to bail them out.
Since coming to Congress in 1999, I've been committed to introducing legislation and supporting reforms that harness the connection between energy and revenue. In 2007, I, along with the Louisiana Congressional delegation, fought hard to secure a fair share of offshore royalties from oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico for Louisiana. These revenues help pay for important coastal, flood and hurricane protections. They also give the state a much-needed source of revenue as we continue rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and more recent storms. And these funds will provide the necessary resources to finish critical transportation and infrastructure projects throughout the state.
In 2008, I also offered a series of amendments to energy legislation being debated in the Senate. That bill — the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act — was narrowly focused only on energy speculators. Speculation is certainly not the only contributor to our growing energy crisis. That's why we need a broad-based plan that also opens more areas to energy exploration and encourages the development and use of alternative fuels.
My amendments would have helped increase our domestic supply of energy by providing coastal states with the option of petitioning to expand offshore energy exploration and ending the Congressional moratoriums on offshore leasing activities on the Outer Continental Shelf and on the final regulations regarding the development of oil shale. I also offered amendments to streamline the permitting processes relating to the expansion of refinery capacity and offshore leasing.
My amendments and others were all blocked from consideration, though — a practice that has become more and more common on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In the world's most prominent deliberative body, debate has become relegated to handpicked amendments that are often pre-assured of victory or defeat.
To that end, last week I sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) once again bringing attention to the No Cost Stimulus and its ability to create at least 2 million jobs.
Democrats claim that Republicans have no proposals to help spur our economy. This couldn't be further from the truth, and this bill is a perfect example. But we need the American people's help to engage the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader in taking up this legislation. Help us have a real debate on job creation, the economy and energy independence and ask your Congressman and Senator to support the No Cost Stimulus Act.
Sen. David Vitter is a Republican from Louisiana.