House GOP members demand energy bill with 'energy in it'

Having been excluded from energy bill discussions, US House Republicans said they are counting on "fossil fuel Democrats" to safeguard 2005 EPACT provisions designed to increase domestic oil and gas production.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 9 -- Having been excluded from energy bill discussions, US House Republicans said they are counting on "fossil fuel Democrats" to safeguard 2005 Energy Policy Act provisions designed to increase domestic oil and gas production.

Otherwise, the bill almost certainly will accelerate already climbing crude oil prices and increase US reliance on imports, House GOP members said at a Nov. 9 briefing at the Capitol.

"We want an energy bill that has energy in it," said Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). "Gasoline prices are an average 85¢/gal higher since the Democrats took control of Congress in January. Markets react to what they think Congress will do. Every proposal the Democrats put on the table reduces energy supplies instead of increasing them," he said.

Asked if he would support a bill without tax components, Blunt said that would not be enough to win support from House Republicans. "We essentially embrace the principles President Bush outlined in his letter to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [(D-Calif.)]," he said.

Oil shale off table
Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the Energy and Commerce Committee's ranking minority member, said that the energy bill which the House passed in August took 2 trillion bbl of shale oil off the table by rolling back EPACT provisions. If Democrats truly want to reverse soaring oil prices, they should insert Alaska National Wildlife Refuge leasing authorization, a US Outer Continental Shelf inventory, and oil shale provisions into their legislation, he suggested.

"If ANWR had gone on line 10 years ago, it would have been producing 3 million b/d by now. If an OCS inventory had been conducted and prospects drilled, that would have given us another 1 million or 2 million b/d, and oil prices wouldn't be approaching $100/bbl," Barton said.

"If the Democrats want an energy bill, we'll help them. If they simply want higher prices to discourage consumption, they're already getting that," he added.

John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), an 11-year member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, mentioned the "fossil fuel Democrats" and said that several have told him they would like to see more supply issues in the legislation.

"This price increase is different from others. There's no supply interruption such as Hurricane Katrina behind it. This simply is a demand-driven upward push in the price of a barrel of crude oil," he said, noting that prices have climbed from $58.31/bbl when the Democrats assumed control of Congress in January to $98.62/bbl on Nov. 8.

Do more with carbon
Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) said that Democrats appear determined to leave coal-to-liquids out of energy alternatives because of a mistaken impression that the fuel would pollute the atmosphere. "If we're going to have a proactive policy, let's give entrepreneurs a chance to do something with carbon besides bury it. It could play a critical part in producing biomass, for example," he said.

John E. Peterson (R-Pa.) said that the energy bill which cleared the House extends offshore natural gas leasing bans onshore to areas such as Colorado's Roan Plateau. "Any attempt to deal with climate change will increase pressure on gas. We should be increasing, not reducing, our domestic supplies," he said.

"You can't move forward with an energy bill that produces less energy. If it produces more energy, it will also produce Republican votes," Blunt maintained.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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