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House Votes to Aid Drilling in Weeklong GOP Offensive on Obama’s Energy Policy

President vows to veto bill which would automatically approve permit applications that Interior shoves to back burner.

by
Bill Straub

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November 20, 2013 - 5:07 pm
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WASHINGTON – The House has passed a measure streamlining the process for energy drilling on public lands while also requiring an increase in the number of lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

In a 228-192 vote mostly along party lines, the lower chamber approved the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), which deems any request to drill on federal lands to be approved if the secretary of the Department of Interior fails to act within 60 days of its receipt. The bill further requires the secretary to establish a federal permit streamlining project in each of the Bureau of Land Management field offices in an effort to further expedite the process.

Critics who might desire to file an objection to any oil and gas lease sales or permitting decisions would have to pay a $5,000 fee to file an appeal. Bobby McEnaney, senior lands analyst and deputy director of the Western Renewables Energy Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, called that provision “a gross abuse of power, closing the courthouse door particularly on voices of minorities and other local community members trying to improve responsible management of public lands.”

The bill was the first among several to be considered this week supported by the House Republican majority aimed at increasing energy production and lowering the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. On Thursday, lawmakers are scheduled to debate and vote on legislation authored by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) intended to restrict the Interior Department’s planned regulation of hydraulic fracturing used to extract oil shale and natural gas.

Neither bill, opposed by environmentalists, is expected to survive beyond House passage. The Senate is not expected to consider it and the White House already has announced its intention to veto both measures.

In its message, the White House stated the Lamborn bill will “reverse administration oil and gas leasing reforms that have established orderly, open, efficient, and environmentally sound processes for energy development on public lands. Specifically, this bill would favor an arbitrary standard for leasing in open areas over leasing on the basis of greatest resource potential; limit the public’s opportunity to engage in decisions about the use of public lands; raise the potential for costly litigation, protests, and delays; strip the ability of the Department of the Interior to issue permits to drill based on important environmental reviews, clearances and tribal consultation; and curtail the use of public lands for other uses like hunting, fishing, and recreation.”

But Republicans argued the nation’s energy needs should surmount any opposition arguments.

“With millions of Americans still looking for work, growing debts and deficits and energy prices that are still far too high, the United States needs to implement an all-of-the-above energy plan to responsibly harness our nation’s energy resources on our federal lands,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “New energy production is one of the best ways to grow the economy and create new jobs to put people back to work.”

But Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) called the provisions “misguided, unnecessary, and environmentally harmful,” noting that the U.S. already is in the midst of “an almost unprecedented oil and gas boom” that has led to the nation’s crude oil production surpassing imports for the first time in 20 years. The International Energy Agency projected that the US will become the world’s top oil producer by 2015.

Hastings argued the production statistics cloud the true picture. The increased oil production, he said, is occurring on private and state lands – areas that don’t face as many federal regulations.

“Federal lands are being left behind,” he said. “However, this lack of production on federal lands is not for a lack of resources. We have tremendous potential for new onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands, but the Obama administration is actively and purposely keeping these resources off limits. Leasing and permitting delays, regulatory hurdles, and ever-changing rules are a few of the reasons energy production on federal lands is in decline.”

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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I can't find anything to like about a proposal that wants to overrule a plan put together by 400,000 stakeholders by legislative fiat. that seems to fly in the face of observing the will of the stakeholders. That probably bothers me more than anything else about this. I think the people most involved should have their plan respected. There is a lot of oil and gas still available and it isn't going anywhere. If you're going to talk so damn much about freedom and liberty then shutup and stay out of other peoples business. You folks can not only keep you noses out of peoples bed room, you can't keep your nose out of their business.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess the GOP of today won't be satisfied unless and until we all live on a greasy tarpit of a nation. You mean producing more than we import for the first time in a long time isn't enough? Thank goodness for what the Republican party used to be in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Y'all commenters here are MANIACS!!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah - another of those brilliant bills by Boehner and the RINO brain-trust to show real conservatives that "we're doing something about" (fill in the blank). When the rubber hit the road and they had a chance to kill O'Care what did they do? They lined up like the good little statists that they are and started yelling at Cruz.

More show - no go.


40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Government should own as little land as is compatible with performing its basic and essential functions. Fundamentally, that means military bases and training ranges, courthouses and police stations. Everything else - EVERYTHING - should be returned to private ownership, perhaps via auction. Of course my minarchist dream has no chance of being enacted, but it is nonetheless abundantly clear that the amount of land in Federal and State hands is too high by at least two orders of magnitude.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, let's just call a spade a spade and a liar a liar, that is to say, Rep. Holt. According to a report released by the Congressional Research Service, everything he said is false.

Key Findings of the Report:

“All of the increased production from FY2007 to FY2012 took place on non-federal lands…”
For natural gas production in the U.S. since 2007 “…production on federal lands (onshore and offshore) fell by about 33% and production on non-federal lands grew by 40%.”
Because of declines in oil production on federal lands in FY2011 and FY2012, production is now below FY2007 production levels.
The average daily production of natural gas on federal lands decreased by 8% from FY2011 to FY2012 and by 23% from FY2008 to FY2012.
The average time to process an Application for Permits to Drill (APD) on federal land increased 41% from 2006 to 2011, from 218 days in 2006 to 307 in 2011.
“A more efficient permitting process may be an added incentive for the industry to invest in developing federal resources, which may allow for some oil and gas to come onstream sooner, but in general, the regulatory framework for developing resources on federal lands will likely remain more involved and time-consuming than that on private land.”

- See more at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/brand/new-report-chronicles-oil-and-gas-production-federal-lands-declining-under-obamas-watch#sthash.FGKoKUYK.dpuf
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now if we could get enough people in the Senate that were interested in the prosperity of the country instead of their own self serving wants and needs, we just might save this country. Our greatest problem is the fact that we elect people to run our country that hate the country they are suppose to run.
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