GOP “Energy Package” Would Hand Control of Public Lands to Oil Companies, Reduce Drilling Safety
WASHINGTON (June 6, 2012) – Gas prices are falling. The United States produced more oil from federal lands onshore than since 2003. There are more drilling rigs operating now in the United States than in the rest of the world combined. America is producing natural gas at record highs, resulting in record low prices that are creating new manufacturing jobs. And under the Obama administration, America’s foreign oil dependence has dropped from 57 percent at the end of the Bush administration to 45 percent today.
Yet instead of congratulating the Obama administration for all of these advances in oil and natural gas production, House Republicans are trotting out a series of bills that would give oil companies control over taxpayer-owned lands, put a short “shot clock” on the safety review of drilling permits, and say that oil and gas production has priority over any and all other activity on public lands, like hunting or fishing.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today decried this latest attempt by House Republicans to cede control of our nation’s land and water to oil companies.
Instead of sending a thank you note to President Obama for increasing oil production and decreasing our foreign oil dependence through his ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, House Republicans are sending a love letter to the oil industry in the form of another oil-above-all scheme,” said Rep. Markey. “These bills allow oil companies to say what lands they want to drill, even if Americans use them for hunting or fishing. And just in time for the NBA playoffs, it puts a ‘shot clock’ on the safety review of drilling permits, sending America back to the speed-over-safety days of the BP spill.”
Included in the package are:
-- H.R. 4381, which would elevate energy production above hunting, fishing, recreation, grazing, conservation and the many other ways that the American people enjoy our public lands.
-- H.R. 4382, which would allow oil companies to tell the government where they want to drill, and then set an arbitrary requirement that the Department of the Interior must offer oil companies at least 25 percent of whatever onshore areas industry nominates, regardless of whether or not drilling in these areas would be appropriate. Oil companies could nominate 100 percent of public lands where leasing is possible, if they desired.
-- H.R. 4383, which would impose arbitrary deadlines --  safety “shot clocks” -- on the Interior Department’s review of applications for permits to drill onshore. Just as the Majority tried to do for offshore drilling, drilling permits would be automatically “deemed approved” after 60 days, even if the Interior Department had not finished its safety review.
Democratic policies, like the increase in fuel economy for America’s vehicles and cracking down on Wall Street speculators, have helped to ease the price at the pump and the pain Americans feel when they have to fill up. House Democrats will continue to push for an “all of the above” strategy that includes wind, solar, domestic natural gas production and advanced vehicles to reduce America’s dependence on oil.
Rep. Markey has recently introduced bills to encourage oil companies to drill on the tens of millions of acres of land which the currently lease, but on which they are not producing; to shift the billions of dollars in unnecessary tax breaks given to the biggest oil companies to clean energy alternatives; and to keep America’s natural gas here in America to create manufacturing jobs.
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