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Legislation to Assist Oil and Gas Development Faces Dim Future

Before the election, the House of Representatives passed sweeping energy legislation, including HR 4480, in an attempt to facilitate the development of the oil and gas industry. The bill passed by 248 to 163 and its sponsor, Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado, urged the Senate to take up this bill promptly, for the good of the American economy.

Included in the package of seven bills the House passed, all directed at oil and gas development in the Western US and on federal lands, there are provisions requiring the Secretary of Energy to have a plan for leasing federal land, directing the Secretary of the Interior to offer previously unavailable land as at least 25% of the annually nominated total, and requiring analysis of impacts of certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules on gas, diesel, and natural gas prices. Other included bills would require the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture to have a new federal onshore energy production strategy every four years to guide leasing plans, the Secretary of the Interior to hold at least one lease or sale per year in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and allow the Secretary of the Interior to hold oil and gas lease sales online.

Republican members of the House pointed out that while gas prices may be going down a bit, they are still double what they were in January 2009. The bills are intended to alleviate the devastating impact of government regulations on job creation and gas prices for the American consumer. Democrats and some radical environmentalist allies, of course, see it differently and have been complaining about the bill’s theoretical and speculative environmental impact. The Democrats also tried to attach amendments to the various bills to preserve major regulatory provisions, fully fund the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and require federal oil and gas lessees to more diligently develop their holdings. These amendments were voted down.

Those who actually work in the industry and see the benefits this brings in terms of the economy and job creation were happy at the passing of this sweeping energy legislation at long last. American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice President Marty Durbin said, “Greater access to domestic energy resources, combined with smarter policies that boost our refining industry, will benefit consumers in the long run. More homegrown energy is good for all Americans.” Independent Petroleum Association of America President Barry Russell also pointed to the legislation scaling back roadblocks for procedures and as helping US economic expansion through more jobs and energy security. In particular, he said, the legislation is a necessary check on the EPA’s decisions with a new inter-agency committee assessing the effect of proposed rules and regulations on the economy. The President of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers also stated that these measures would allow the US to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

Of course, the prospects of this bill post-election are pretty dim. The Democrats have other agendas besides jobs and lower gas prices for Americans.

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