Despite systematically undermining domestic oil production, President Obama has recently said he hopes to drastically decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil. Luckily for the president, congressional Republicans have proposed an array of legislation to accomplish just that. The House Natural Resources Committee spent Wednesday working on three new energy bills.
The Obama administration’s de facto moratorium has led to a precipitous decline in U.S. oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. That prompted Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) to take action. His committee approved three new pieces of legislation with bipartisan support Wednesday. The House could vote on the package next month.
Hastings, who recently spoke at The Bloggers Briefing at Heritage, said he proposed the bills as a response to repeated entreaties for help from those hurt by the president’s moratorium.
“There’s one [request] that I’ve heard over and over from the oil industry,” he said. “‘Give me some certainty, that’s all we want, give me some certainty.’”
This is what his first bill, Putting the Gulf Back to Work, would do. The bill incorporates a proposal from Reps. Bill Flores (R-TX) and Jeff Landry (R-LA) that would require the administration to act on every drilling permit within 30 days.
The second piece of legislation requires the federal government to sell leases so Americans can benefit from vast untapped oil and energy stores owned by the United States. If there are no lease sales in 2011 — a very real possibility — “it will be first time since 1958,” Hastings said. He questioned the consistency of an administration that exalts energy independence while simultaneously cutting off this traditional method of increasing oil production.
Hastings’ final proposal seeks to implement a long-term plan to prevent future work stoppages in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposal requires a five-year plan that would require the sale of leases to target areas of the greatest known oil and gas reserves.
Like Hastings’ legislation, a similar proposal from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) aims to increase domestic energy production across America. The Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011 — or the 3-D Act — would create more than 2 million jobs, $10 trillion in economic activity and $2 trillion in federal tax receipts, according to 30-year estimates.
The Vitter-Bishop proposal would mandate Outer Continental Shelf lease sales, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, require action on stalled onshore permits and limit the time frame for environmental and judicial review, among other things.
Matthew McKillip is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.