The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Senate Energy Bill Recap

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 6, 2010

With time running short, the Senate postponed its consideration of an energy bill this week - a "spill bill," as some called it. Now members of the Senate and various lobbying groups are engaging in finger-pointing and blaming each other for the bill's delay.

H. Sterling Burnett, writing in The Hill, says part of the problem was the sales pitch used to push for passage. "Though the Senate's energy bill had nothing to do with the safety of offshore oil rigs, the green lobby tried to link the two in the public's mind. Fortunately, neither the public nor, ultimately, many senators were buying it," he writes.

In API's view, the bill had several flaws. Areas of concern included provisions that would have:

  • Imposed a new layer of federal regulation on hydraulic fracturing, which is a proven technique credited with sharply increasing U.S. natural gas supplies;
  • Made counterproductive changes to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, thus undermining development of offshore oil and natural gas;
  • Done nothing to lift the de facto offshore drilling moratorium that threatens to cost thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. energy production; and
  • Removed the liability cap on oil spill damages, which would have forced small and mid-sized companies to stop working in the Gulf by making offshore development sub-economic.

In an op-ed, API President and CEO Jack Gerard says that rather than lifting the liability cap, "lawmakers should be working towards arriving at a workable solution that would include a robust oil spill liability program fully capable of covering the costs of potential future spills, and that does so without shifting any costs to American taxpayers."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) believes the bill tried to address too many energy issues, and she believes a scaled-down bill might have a better chance of passage. The bill has been pushed back until at least September.