The Republican-dominated House of Representatives Thursday passed an energy bill that could be described as encompassing a producer's wish list, but those wishes won't come true unless and until GOP control spreads to the Senate and the White House.
The legislation (HR 4480), which passed 248-163, would open more areas on public lands for energy production while streamlining the permitting process; allow leasing off the coast of Virginia; create an interagency committee to study how certain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations will affect U.S. businesses and consumers; and pause the implementation of what are considered to be three of the EPA's most costly rules: Tier 3 fuel standards, refinery New Source Performance Standard rules and ozone standards.
The bill does not call for a review of EPA activities with respect to the study of hydraulic fracturing (see related story). President Obama has threatened to veto the measure if it should be voted out of Congress.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), which represents independent oil and gas producers, "commends the House of Representatives for passing the [bill]. The problem that America's independent producers face is certainly not a lack of energy; the United States has abundant reserves of both oil and gas. Instead, federal regulatory overreach, which edges out state jurisdiction, is the main obstacle to an improving American energy sector," said IPAA President Barry Russell. "The legislation includes a much-needed check on the EPA with the creation of an interagency committee that would assess the effect of proposed rules on the economy."
The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents the major producers, also applauded the bill. "Greater access to domestic energy resources combined with smarter policies that boost our refining industry will benefit consumers in the long run...Just look at what is happening in North Dakota, where energy production has revitalized that state's economy. We can duplicate that success across the country," said API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin.
Although the House bill is not likely to clear the Senate, it provides a blueprint of the energy policies that Republicans would push for if they should win control of the House, Senate and/or White House following the November elections.
Republicans and Democrats have been fighting over energy policies for years, making it one of the most contentious issues on Capitol Hill (see NGI, June 22, 2009). In recent battles Republicans have pushed for increased producer access to public lands, while Democrats have sought to repeal the nearly $24 billion in tax incentives for producers.
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