Gillibrand Calls for Expanded Domestic Energy Production
Today, local Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand called on oil companies to expand their domestic energy production on public lands already leased by the federal government. Oil and gas companies currently hold leases to 68 million acres of federal lands for energy production that are not being utilized. In testimony on Capitol Hill last month, oil executives asked Congress to open up new lands to oil production while they sit on permits for tens of millions of acres they are not using for production. The oil and gas companies have so far refused to begin production on 77% of their offshore oil leases and 73% of their onshore leases. When citing record gas prices economists have frequently cited the supply and demand equation as a driving reason for soaring prices. This bill will force the oil companies to increase supply on lands they are permitted to tap today. According to AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report the average cost for a gallon of gas in the Capitol region is $4.19.
In reaction to their continued inaction, Congresswoman Gillibrand announced that she is an original sponsor of legislation that would impose fees on the oil companies for refusing to use the permits they asked for. The Responsible Ownership of Public Lands Act imposes a $5 per acre fee on oil companies for the first three years the companies have leases but are not using for production, and increase to $25 per acre for the fourth year, and $50 per acre for subsequent years. These fees would be used to invest in alternative energy research and development and to ensure funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
"We can't drill our way out of this problem, but for the oil and gas companies to continue to make record profits while Upstate families are struggling with record prices at the pump, and not to increase production from the leases they currently have, is unacceptable," said Congresswoman Gillibrand, a Member of the House Armed Services Committee. "It is time for American energy policy to be dictated by the consumers and not the oil and gas industry."
Congresswoman Gillibrand has been a leader in Congress, fighting for immediate relief for the American people and our nation's long-term energy security. The Congresswoman led the effort to call for a temporary suspension of future purchases to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to keep more oil in the market. On May 13, the Congresswoman voted in favor of legislation that made this proposal law.
"Our long-term energy security is tied to our ability to work toward achieving energy independence through investment and deployment of new renewable energy technologies. I want America, and specifically Upstate New York, to be the market leader in the development of these new technologies that will, not only bring us closer to achieving energy independence, but will create green collar' jobs and revitalize our agricultural and manufacturing bases. Our region is blessed with not just the natural resources that can create energy through solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power, but we also have the creativity and innovation to lead the region in the development of non-food based biofuels, fuel cell technology and energy efficient building and product manufacturing."