US Senate votes to extend OCS, oil shale moratoria

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 14 -- The US Senate voted Mar. 13 to extend moratoria on federal oil and gas leasing on most of the Outer Continental Shelf as well as on developing oil shale resources.

The actions came on a pair of amendments to the budget bill for fiscal year 2009. Both proposed establishing a deficit-neutral reserve fund to encourage consumers to buy more-efficient wood stoves and install smart electricity meters, and supporting carbon capture and storage from coal. But they differed in their treatment of OCS leasing expansion and oil shale resources in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The first amendment, submitted by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), deleted oil shale completely and limited OCS oil and gas development to areas not covered by congressional moratoria or presidential withdrawals. It passed by 56 to 43 votes.

Nelson proposed his amendment to head off one by Sen. LaMar Alexander (R-Tenn.), which was defeated by 51 to 47 votes despite Alexander's limiting new federal OCS leasing to tracts off Virginia. "That is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent and what we fight about each year: oil drilling off the coast," the Floridian said.

Alexander responded that Nelson's approach would strike provisions "which will tend to reduce the price of gasoline and reduce the price of natural gas and make us less dependent on people in other countries who are trying to kill us."

His oil shale provision would have overturned a moratorium enacted as part of the US Department of Interior's fiscal 2008 budget in December as part of the omnibus budget bill. This moratorium delays a program authorized under the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's ranking minority member, said the oil shale program delay was "somebody in one of those states putting a moratorium on in appropriations with nobody around." He said, "This senator wasn't there. If I were there, it would not have happened. We would not have had a bill."

But Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) said the Alexander amendment overturning the oil shale moratorium should be defeated. "We have a thoughtful way to move forward with that program. This is putting the horse ahead of the cart. This is the wrong way to go," Salazar said.

In a statement after the Senate recessed for the day, Salazar said the US Bureau of Land Management "is rushing toward a commercial lease sale and the potential environmental impacts are unknown." He said, "Because of this uncertainty, we do not even know whether state and local government support a commercial lease sale."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) opposed Alexander's proposal because of its OCS provision. "If we want to end our addiction and we care about prices, then don't do it by striking another vein, ultimately, of the same energy resource. We should do it by considering alternatives. This amendment does nothing about that but it does undermine the moratorium on the OCS," he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits

12/22/2014

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/22/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

EPA delays proposal to regulate methane emissions until 2015

12/19/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency is delaying plans to issue proposals to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas operations until 2015, O...

BLM starts process to consider new Nevada lease nominations

12/19/2014 The US Bureau of Land Management’s Battle Mountain, Nev., field office is seeking public comment on 197 parcels of public land, totaling 415,921 ac...

California Bay Area advances plan for enhanced refinery regulations

12/19/2014 California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the public agency responsible for regulating stationary sources of air pollution in...

IEA finds US energy policy improved in latest in-depth review

12/19/2014 US energy policies have come into sharper focus in the last six years, the International Energy Agency said in its latest periodic review. It speci...

Mexico uses PSCs in first Round One step

12/19/2014 Mexico is offering production-sharing contracts to companies incorporated in the country for exploration of 14 shallow-water areas in Round One bid...

Jewell names Maryland energy administrator BOEM’s new director

12/18/2014 US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell appointed Abigail Ross Hopper, who currently directs the Maryland Energy Administration, as the new director of the U...

Russia’s Turkey pipeline deal possibly may keep door to Europe ajar

12/18/2014 Russia’s memorandum of understanding to build a natural gas pipeline to Turkey after canceling its South Stream project could help keep the door op...

White Papers

Available Webcasts



The Future of US Refining

When Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST


Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

When Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected