Matt Garrington, Denver-based co-director of The Checks and Balances Project, offered the following statement and facts regarding today’s markup of three bills sponsored by Colorado House Republicans that would create more giveaways to the oil and gas industry: H.R. 4381, H.R. 4382 and H.R. 4383.
“Reps. Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton, and Mike Coffman should have been cast in the Three Stooges remake, because they certainly know how to put on a show for Big Oil.
“Unfortunately, the legislation introduced today is no laughing matter. These bills would cut the public out of controversial decisions on public lands and allow industry to skirt clean air and water protections.
“Politicians should stop joking and get serious about America’s energy future. We should be ending special tax breaks to Big Oil and reinvesting those funds in American energy solutions such as high tech vehicles, requiring oil and gas from public lands and water to stay in America, and cracking down on Wall Street oil speculation.”
WHY THESE BILLS ARE HANDOUTS TO BIG OIL
H.R. 4382, Sponsored by Rep. Coffman (CO-06)
– $198,300 in career oil and gas contributions
- Increases oil and gas company speculation on public lands by requiring the Interior Department to lease at least 25 percent of lands nominated for leasing by the oil and gas industry each year.
- Ignores the fact that 56% of oil and gas leases – covering 20.8 million acres – lay idle.
- Prohibits the Interior Department from making common sense decisions about whether leasing decisions should move forward when conflicts arise with other values such as water, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation.
- Eliminates oil and gas leasing reforms which have reduced conflicts and litigation over drilling, ensured stronger conservation measures are implemented alongside responsible energy development, and provided a seat at the table for local government, outdoor recreation businesses, and other stakeholders.
H.R. 4383, Sponsored by Rep. Lamborn (CO-05)
– $137,962 in career oil and gas contributions
- Puts arbitrary deadlines on the permit approval process, especially given the fact that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continually issues far more drilling permits than the number of new wells industry drills on federal lands.
- Establishes a $5,000 administrative fee for protests to leases, permits, and right-of-ways as well as creating arbitrary barriers to judicial review effectively cutting the public, state and local governments, and stakeholders wishing to challenge unwise and controversial energy projects.
- Ignores the fact that industry has failed to develop 6,500 unused drilling permits on federal lands and a total of 7,000 unused drilling permits for both federal and Native American lands.
H.R. 4381, Sponsored by Rep. Tipton (CO-03)
– $113,600 in career oil and gas contributions
- Mandates the Interior Department to develop a new energy development plan every four years – but in doing so may actually set the table against renewable energy by locking-in lands currently available for leasing.
- Makes energy development the highest use of the land no matter the consequences to scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values.
- While the bill appears to be “balanced,” it actually requires BLM to “take all necessary actions” to facilitate energy development on the public lands; thus, when viewed as part of the Lamborn and Coffman package, it would roll back oil and gas safeguards and allow oil and gas companies to run roughshod on public lands despite impacts to air quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat.
FACTS ABOUT AMERICAN ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
- Oil production hit an 8-year high in 2011.
- Natural gas production was at an all-time high.
Drilling activity reached its highest levelunder the Obama administration than at any point since the Reagan administration.