House Republicans offer election-year energy legislation

By OGJ editors

Oil and gas trade groups welcomed legislation proposed June 6 by Republicans in the US House of Representatives that would enhance producers’ access to federal land and increase scrutiny of regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

A statement summarizing the package of bills, collectively called the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, made election-year political motivations clear.

“The greatest potential for economic growth in this country can be found in America’s energy resources,” it said. “And while the president is preoccupied with telling Americans what he won’t do on energy, the economy, and jobs, House Republicans are showing what we can do.”

The legislation stands little chance of being passed by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

The legislation

Here’s a summary of the individual bills:

The Strategic Energy Production Act would require the president to develop a plan to increase oil and gas leasing if he or she authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The Gasoline Regulations Act would require an analysis of the effects on gasoline prices of specified actions by the EPA and suspend implementation of pending initiatives on gasoline, new source performance review, and ozone standards until 6 months after Congress received a report on the analysis.

The Planning for American Energy Act would require the Secretary of the Interior to link leasing of federal land with an assessment of US energy needs.

The Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act would set minimum standards and timetables for federal leasing.

The Sreamlining Permitting of American Energy Act would remove administrative obstacles to the issuance of permits under federal leases.

The National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Act would support development of the NPR-A.

The BLM Live Internet Auctions Act would allow the Interior secretary to conduct onshore lease auctions via the internet.

Industry response

In a statement, the American Petroleum Institute said the legislation would create “a real US energy policy” and, like sponsors of the measure, linked the initiative to the election-year issues of employment and the economy.

“The oil and natural gas industry can help revitalize the economy, create new jobs, and generate millions of dollars of new federal and state revenue by safely accessing areas currently off limits,” said Conrad Lass, API senior director of federal relations.

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Charles T. Drevna called the legislation important.

“The United States has the capacity to become nearly 100% energy-secure through domestic production and Canadian imports by 2025,” he said. Fulfilling that hope, he added, requires “smarter policies and a stable regulatory environment that strikes the proper balance between environmental protection and preserving a robust and competitive refining industry.”

Barry Russell, president and chief executive officer of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, called the legislation “a necessary step forward” in part because of its attempt to improve access to federal land.

“America’s independent producers have faced a plethora of obstacles to develop energy resources on federal lands under the Obama administration,” he said.

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