'We really do need to be working together'

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), ranking minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, speaking on the House floor the evening of Sept. 16 in opposition to the Democratic leadership's energy bill

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), ranking minority member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, speaking on the House floor the evening of Sept. 16 in opposition to the Democratic leadership's energy bill:

"We're here because this is the climactic evening on whether we're going to have a domestic production program for America out of this Congress. The bill before us pretends to be just that bill.

"The problem is that Section 101, the first title of the bill, is a leasing prohibition section. There are so many prohibitions throughout the bill that in point of fact, when you sort it all through, you have tax increases on coal, because there's an existing coal tax set to expire in 2014 and it's extended to 2018.

"You have huge prohibitions against existing oil companies bidding on any of these new leases that might eventually come up. That's like if you substitute Hollywood for 'Big Oil,' you would say we won't let George Lucas or Steven Spielberg produce another movie because 'Star Wars' or something like that made so much money the last time, which is simply silly.

"We want our major oil companies to be out there developing and producing these leases because they're the ones most likely to actually find something and produce it in a cost-effective fashion. It's a three-to-one return to the taxpayer when an oil company actually finds, develops, produces and sells energy for America.

"The bill before us has absolutely no permitting reform. As Congressman [John] Shadegg has pointed out, if you eliminate all the moratoria and just did that and really let any area that's in the public domain be leased, it still wouldn't be developed because the national environmental groups preemptively file lawsuits. If you really want to have development and production, we have to do something on permitting reform and that is not in this bill, either.

"We really do need to be working together. Congressman [Neil] Abercrombie and Congressman [John E.] Peterson have developed a bipartisan bill that has more than 100 co-sponsors. Very little of that bill is in this bill. We simply must stop posturing politically and really start developing good, sound public policy. The way to do that is to defeat the base text, vote for a motion to recommit or send the whole thing back and start all over next week with a clean sheet of paper."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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