US Senate approves reworked package of public lands bills

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 19 -- The US Senate on Mar. 19 passed repackaged public lands legislation by 77 to 20 votes—8 days after its original version fell two votes short of approval in the House.

The bill, HR 146, originally aimed to protect battlefields from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 when Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-NJ) first introduced it on Jan. 6 and the House passed it on Mar. 3. Senate Democratic leaders folded the more than 150 provisions from the rejected public lands bill into it on Mar. 18 before bringing it to the floor on that side of the Capitol.

Like the original bill, S. 22, which the Senate approved by 73 to 21 votes on Jan. 15, this one contained provisions which attracted support from Republicans as well as Democrats. The earlier measure failed in the House because leaders there tried to pass it under a rules suspension and it fell two votes short of the required two-thirds majority.

HR 146's prospects there are better because House Democrats have indicated they would bring it to the floor in a manner which would allow it to pass with a simple majority. They also appear likely to permit amendments this time since several Democrats voting for S. 22 on Mar. 11 expressed reservations and suggested changes. The bill received 282 yes votes and 144 no votes.

Congressional Democrats structured both bills in a manner calculated to attract broad support by including smaller measures which members originally introduced to address issues in their home states. But the legislation also would expand national wilderness and other protected areas with the most acreage additions in decades, which critics said would deny access to domestic oil, gas and other energy resources.

Veto unlikely
There's also a chance that the bill won't sit well with US President Barack H. Obama, who registered strong disapproval of earmarks when he signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act on Feb. 17. But it's not likely that he would veto it if it clears the House.

One Senate Democrat who supported both bills tried to frame them in economic as well as environmental terms on Mar. 19 after HR 146 passed. "This bill is good for our families, our heritage, and our economy. When we preserve important places in our country, it encourages people to come visit them and spend money there," said Barbara Boxer (Calif.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

But the primary Republican opponent criticized the bill's passage. "Parochialism and short-term political expediency have once again trumped common sense in the US Senate. The public lands bill handicaps future generations with additional debt and new barriers to both renewable and traditional energy resources in our country," said Thomas A. Coburn (Okla.).

Coburn said the Senate approved only one of five amendments he introduced, a provision which would protect park visitors and scientists from criminal penalties for taking stones which may contain insignificant fossils from public lands. The Senate tabled another Coburn amendment which would have eliminated what he considered frivolous waste in the bill, including federal funding for a birthday party for St. Augustine, Fla.; botanical gardens in Hawaii and Florida, and a study of Alexander Hamilton's boyhood estate in the Virgin Islands.

Coburn said, "The American people also should be disappointed that in a time of economic turmoil, the US Senate has devoted seven weeks to a bill that could have been done in two weeks. Seventy of the bills in this package, which I supported, could have passed by voice vote. Had the majority agreed to a simple and open amendment process months ago, we could have been focusing on more important issues."

Home-state provisions
Senators who voted for the bill emphasized provisions affecting their home states. "It was important to vote for this bill because it contained a number of items important to Wyoming," including wolf compensation for ranchers and protections for the Wyoming Range and the Snake River's headwaters, according to John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

He also criticized the decision by Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to bundle so many bills into an omnibus legislative package. "I strongly support passing measures individually, as is done in the Wyoming State Legislature. As usual, Wyoming has it right and Washington has it wrong. Congress should consider legislation individually in order to debate the clear purpose of each bill. I have made my views on this very clear to [the] Senate leadership and will continue to do so in the future," Barrasso said.

Tom Udall (D-NM) said that HR 146, like S. 22, contains legislation he developed as a US House member to designate more than 17,000 acres in San Miguel County as wilderness. He said that the acreage, which the US Bureau of Land Management administers, contains land which is currently part of the Sabinoso Wilderness Study Area.

He said he worked with BLM and local landowners to develop legislation to designate the area as wilderness to protect its rugged and dramatic landscape. It contains scenic canyons and mess which are home to mule deer, elk, mountain lions, wild turkey and other wildlife, as well as canyon vistas and impressive rock formations, according to Udall.

New Mexico's House of Representatives and the San Miguel County Commission each passed resolutions urging the state's congressional delegation to establish the new wilderness area, which would be open for grazing, hunting and other recreational uses, he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...
White Papers

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

When Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors

register:WEBCAST


Driving Growth and Efficiency with Deep Insights into Operational Data

Wed, Aug 19, 2015

Capitalizing on today’s momentum in Oil & Gas requires operational excellence based on a clear view of what your business data is telling you. Which is why nearly half* of oil and gas companies have deployed SAP HANA or have it on their roadmap.

Join SAP and Red Hat to learn more about using data to drive process improvements and identify new opportunities with the SAP HANA platform running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This webinar will also show how your choice of infrastructure impacts the performance of core business applications and your ability to achieve data-driven insights quickly and reliably.

*48% use SAP, http://go.sap.com/solution/industry/oil-gas.html

register:WEBCAST


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

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