The across-the-board budget sequestration cuts, which began in March, will result in a considerable reduction in the number of oil and natural gas permits processed and leases issued annually, according to a new report by Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
The report estimates that 300-400 fewer oil and gas drilling permits will be processed and 150 fewer leases issued, resulting in $150 million loss to U.S. taxpayers.
Furloughs and layoffs also are expected to delay cleanup from nuclear weapons development in Washington, New Mexico, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well cause up to a three-to-six month delay in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather satellite launch, which would potentially increase the costs and risks of inaccurate weather forecasts. Companies, especially utilities, rely on NOAA forecasts either directly or indirectly when making gas purchases.
These cuts “merely kick the can down the road, sparing short-term pain through one-time savings that delay long-term needs like construction, maintenance and training,” said the report by the panel, which is chaired by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY).
“This year’s fixes do nothing to address the cuts required of these same programs in the coming years,” it noted. “Congress must replace these mindless cuts with a sensible and balanced plan to promote growth and educe the long-term deficit and debt.”
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