Posted May 5, 2011
Two energy strategies are going head to head in Washington right now.
The administration continues to talk about energy tax hikes that won't help put Americans back to work or expand access to domestic energy resources. Not good. Contrast that with three bills in Congress that would move toward both goals by removing obstacles to new offshore drilling.
There's already been lots of discussion about the administration's proposal to end energy tax treatments that historically have encouraged domestic exploration and production of oil and natural gas. As API President and CEO Jack Gerard told reporters this week, increasing energy taxes will "destroy jobs, diminish energy security and reduce government revenue."
Meanwhile, legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is designed to promote production of American oil and natural gas resources that would help with all the things Gerard mentioned: jobs, increased tax revenue and a more secure energy future. The House Natural Resources Committee chairman is backing three bills:
- H.R. 1229 would end what is effectively a drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico by giving the Interior secretary 30 days to restart drilling permits that were approved before the administration's moratorium last May. The bill also would set up an expedited judicial review process to guard against frivolous lawsuits that would delay permits. It would require Interior to ensure that drilling operations meet safety standards, including blowout prevention and oil spill response and containment.
- H.R. 1230 would help restart offshore leasing by requiring Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the gulf and off Virginia - sales that have been delayed or canceled by the administration. Increased domestic production means more U.S. jobs and more U.S. energy, making America less dependent on foreign oil. Even better: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would generate about $40 million in revenues over the next 10 years.
- H.R. 1231 would lift the administration's offshore drilling moratorium and require each five-year leasing plan to include lease sales in areas that have the greatest known oil and natural gas reserves. The legislation also would require Interior to set up a production goal with each five-year plan, to increase energy security.
Again, the legislation is a 180-degree contrast to administration policies, and it's drawing support from the No. 2 Democrat in the House. "Drill. Use it. Go ahead. We're for that," said Minority Leader Steny Hoyer. "I agree with Republicans. We ought to get permits approved, and they ought to be accelerated."
Amen. Producing more of our own energy is a real strategy to deal with the country's energy challenges. "There are serious proposals pending in Congress supporting such an approach," Gerard said. "Proponents of this approach are taking action because the administration has failed to act constructively on energy. Just as the president encouraged Brazil to develop its resources and Saudi Arabia to produce more of its oil, it's time to focus on America."
Update: The House passed H.R. 1230, which would require the Interior Department to conduct lease sales in the gulf and off Virginia, in a 266-149 vote. Two related bills are expected to be considered by the House next week.
Check here for The Hill's legislative update.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.