Comprehensive energy legislation proposed by Senate Republicans Wednesday seeks to open all federal waters to oil and natural gas leasing, expand revenue sharing between the federal government and coastal states, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to production and bar the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, calls for the Interior Department to open all the closed areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for mineral leasing. Vitter estimates that increased OCS leasing could generate about $8.2 trillion in gross domestic product over the next 30 years, or about $273 billion a year, and potentially provide more than $2.2 trillion in incremental tax receipts.
The measure, which has 19 cosponsors, proposes that Interior expedite a new five-year lease plan that provides producers with more than double the access of the current five-year program.
“There’s no disputing the fact that our nation’s domestic energy production on federal lands and waters has been stymied by this administration and is trending in the exact opposite direction of the rapid growth we’re seeing on private and state lands. This legislation would reverse that trend by increasing access to our domestic resources” on public lands, Vitter said.
The bill also would increase revenue sharing with all offshore producing states by an additional $3 billion annually, while leasing in ANWR would generate more than $114 billion in royalty revenue plus another $95 billion in corporate income tax revenue.
A number of other senators, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski (D-AK) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), are working on legislation that would give coastal states a greater share of the revenue from offshore drilling (see Daily GPI, Feb. 12).
Moreover, the measure would prevent the EPA from regulating CO2 under the Clean Air Act until China, India and Russia commit to the same objective, and it seeks to expedite the permitting of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
It further seeks to expedite judicial review of energy projects on federal lands so that they are not caught up in extended legal challenges. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has identified more than 300 projects nationwide that are tied up in environmental lawsuits, Vitter said.
Rep Rob Bishop (R-UT), chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environment Regulation subcommittee, said he plans to introduce companion legislation to Vitter’s bill in the House.
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