The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Gifts for the American People

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 11, 2012

A few lines in an anti-industry document produced by some House Democrats this week caught our eye:

“…54 votes for subsidies and other gifts to the oil and gas industry, including votes to preserve tax and royalty breaks, expand risky new drilling and pipelines, and allow companies to sell off America’s oil and gas resources to higher-paying foreign countries.”

Sounds pretty sinister, doesn’t it? Well, since those conclusions purport to be based on recorded House votes, let’s take a look at the evidence of 54 votes for “subsidies and other gifts” to our industry

First, we note that a number of the votes involve key pro-energy development bills passed this year and last to help increase domestic supplies of oil and natural gas – according to recent polling, the kind of legislation that’s supported by 7 in 10 Americans:

  • House Resolution 1230, to require oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Virginia. The bill passed 266-149 with 33 Democrats voting yes.
  • House Resolution 1231, to require that each federal five-year offshore oil and natural gas leasing program offer leasing in the areas with the most prospective oil and gas resources, and would establish a domestic oil and natural gas production goal. It passed 243-179 with 21 Democrats voting yes.
  • House Resolution 1938, to require the administration to set a schedule for the analysis and decision process for the Keystone XL pipeline. It passed 279-147 with 47 Democrats voting yes.
  • House Resolution 4348, which included a provision streamlining approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It passed 293-127 with 69 Democrats voting yes.
  • House Resolution 4480, pulling together a number of energy provisions including increased production on federal lands, examining the impact of environmental regulations on gasoline and diesel prices and the establishment of a true all-of-the-above development strategy . It passed 248-163 with 19 Democrats voting yes.
  • House Resolution 6082, to implement a congressional plan for offshore drilling in place of the administration’s plan, to increase domestic energy production and create jobs. It passed 253-170 with 25 Democrats voting yes.

Again, all of these bills were designed to increase domestic energy production or enhance our energy relationship with Canada, our largest supplier of imported oil, through the Keystone XL pipeline. Americans understand the relationship between increased domestic energy, the Keystone XL and U.S. energy security. Nine in 10 believe more domestic energy will create U.S. jobs.  Americans support more offshore development (7 in 10) and the Keystone XL (7 in 10). Gifts to industry? These are gifts to the American people – using America’s energy wealth to benefit Americans.

As for the other votes, most were on amendments related to the above bills – mostly attempts to block or limit the intent of pro-energy development legislation. For example:

  • One cited vote defeated an amendment to make the drilling moratorium in the Eastern Gulf permanent. Other votes defeated amendments to prohibit drilling off Northern California, Washington state, Oregon and New England.
  • Votes to defeat impeding amendments on the Keystone XL pipeline, such as those suggesting environmental threats not detected in three separate environmental studies conducted by the State Department over the project’s four years-plus review.
  • Votes to defeat amendments that would bar or limit exports, the folly of which we’ve discussed here, here and here.

A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives has been busy the past two years trying to implement a true domestic energy strategy, about which others only talk. Look at the votes. Look at the intent. The legislation referenced above is trying to take unnecessary restraints off U.S. domestic oil and natural gas production. These bills are not "gifts" to the oil and natural gas industry, they are efforts to expand the benefit that the oil and natural gas industry is providing the U.S. economy. Opposition to them, and other attempts to limit safe and responsible domestic development, not only ignore our current economic situation and our energy reality, they also ignore the wishes of a strong majority of the American people who have been unrelenting in their priorities – economic growth and jobs.  The oil and natural gas industry can provide both.

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.