Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hastings bills target administration’s offshore policies

US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said on Mar. 29 that he will introduce three bills aimed at reversing Obama administration offshore oil and gas decisions and policies. “The bills will end the de facto moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and allow people to return to work, require lease sales to be held that were canceled or delayed by the Obama administration, and lift the administration’s ban on new offshore drilling by directing production to occur in areas with the most oil and natural gas resources,” he told reporters at a press conference.

The bills’ prospects of moving beyond the Republican-controlled House aren’t particularly bright, but they will give members a chance to go on record again about the issue. Many congressional Democrats are saying that the US Department of the Interior’s report on already issued federal leases which aren’t producing or being actively explored, which DOI released as Hastings announced his legislation, justifies so-called “use it or lose it” requirements instead.

“In contrast to the president’s drill nowhere new plan, this is a drill smart plan,” said Hastings. “The majority of Americans support offshore energy production and these bills will allow it to move forward in a safe, responsible, and efficient manner. With thousands unemployed in the Gulf [of Mexico] region and gasoline prices nearing $4/gal, swift action must be taken to reverse course and increase US energy production.”

Two oil and gas industry groups applauded his move. “Bold leadership during these challenging times is necessary to get folks back to work in the gulf and to provide the energy resources so critical to fueling this country’s economic well-being,” said National Ocean Industries Association President Randall B. Luthi. “While much of our attention of late has been appropriately focused on the present day pace of permitting and its impact upon jobs, we are just as concerned with the lack of national policy direction for the future regarding access to the oil and gas resources of the US Outer Continental Shelf.”

Con Lass, senior director of federal relations at the American Petroleum Institute, also welcomed Hastings’s bills. “The energy markets are constantly looking for signals to guide today’s investment strategies for producing tomorrow’s energy. Regrettably, the signals this administration has been sending encourage less investment in future domestic energy production,” he maintained. “Our economy will still need oil and natural gas for decades to come. America must pursue policies that encourage responsible development of our resources instead of relying on imported energy from unstable parts of the world.”


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