House Legislators to Tackle Lands Policy
Western legislators will be leading off one offensive of the new
administration's energy strategy March 7, with a U.S. House
Resources Committee hearing that explores restrictions on gas
development on public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
and their impact on power markets.
The aim is to come up with a bill to allow development and
transportation of natural gas, Bill Condit, senior aide to Rep.
Barbara Cubin (R-WY), told a meeting of the Natural Gas Roundtable
in Washington last week. "There is too much gas there that is
locked-up and not getting to market." Just to make it interesting,
Condit expects the hot topic of having a lease sale in the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge will be part of the bill.
The White House National Energy Policy Development Group is
expected to propose principles for the legislation and Interior
Secretary Gale Norton and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham are
expected to weigh-in on the subject for the first time at the
hearing. Also on tap are Govs. Tony Knowles of Alaska and Jim
Geringer of Wyoming.
The House hearing, called by Chairman James Hansen, R-UT, will
come about a week after Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-AK, unveils his
proposed comprehensive energy legislation on the Senate side Feb.
26 (see NGI, Feb. 12).
Condit said he was optimistic that a bill would be signed, much
like the one signed by President George Bush in 1992. "Lord knows
we are in need of another iteration of a policy, because again,
from the perspective of the subcommittee, we have all this gas tied
up." It is time for the subcommittee as well as the full committee
to figure out "how to get rid of these choke points that are
keeping this gas that we know is there, from getting to market."
" Condit added that according to National Petroleum Council report,
an estimated 137 Tcf of natural gas is restricted from getting to
market from the Rocky Mountain Foreland Basin alone (see NGI, Feb. 21, 2000). The restrictions include a
wide range of obstacles from untouchable parkland to high-cost
Condit said that getting Norton and her team to "cleanse the
ethic" in the Interior Department that has "pervaded the area for
the last eight years or so" is going to be difficult, but possible.
He said this includes convincing DOI that one of its jobs is not
"to create a national park out of the entire West, but rather to
supply the nation with domestic mineral resources."
He also said that the subcommittee on energy and mineral
resources, chaired by Cubin, plans to hold additional hearings on
different energy issues, including the hardships imposed by former
President Bill Clinton's roadless policy with the forest service.
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