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Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act

Location: Washington, DC

RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL OIL AND GAS LEASE ACT -- (House of Representatives - June 26, 2008)


Mr. RAHALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, today this body is considering responsible legislation aimed at compelling the oil industry to do what it should do best, drill for oil and bring relief to Americans at the pumps.

That may seem like an odd notion, and certainly we will hear criticism from our Republican colleagues who continue to coddle Big Oil and pander to the industry's political agenda. And there are many in the industry who will not want to hear this side of the aisle say we are for drilling for oil. My approach
is slightly different. Big Oil does not need to be coddled, it needs a swift kick in the backside.

While Democrats in Congress know that we cannot drill our way to energy independence and continue to advocate for the development of alternative fuels and increased energy conservation, we also know that we must increase our supply of oil in the interim. I repeat; in this legislation we are not against drilling for oil. That is why today, with this legislation, we are saying ``Drill it or lose it.''

The Federal Government makes vast swaths of public lands, both onshore and underlying the Gulf of Mexico, available for oil and gas development. What we are finding, however, is that the industry is stockpiling these oil and gas leases. At present, 68 million acres of Federal lands are being held by oil and gas companies with no production occurring on these leases. That acreage is equal to the size of Colorado.

Considering today's oil prices, you would think that they would either diligently develop that acreage, bring any oil found into production, or relinquish the leases. The pending legislation would require this diligent development during the term of an oil and gas lease, and if it does not occur, the leaseholder would not be allowed to lease even more Federal lands. It's simple, ``use it or lose it,'' and allow another company to make a go at that leased land.

Obviously, we have a much better chance to bring relief at the pump by producing oil on Federal lands already held by the oil companies much quicker than having to go through the environmental lawsuits of leasing and permitting required if we were to take the President's method and just open up OCS and ANWR immediately. We have a much better chance, Mr. Speaker, to help Americans grapple with the high cost of fuel by drilling in those Federal lands and waters already open to development.

Over 80 percent of estimated oil and gas resources on Federal lands, both onshore and offshore, are available for development or will be shortly, pending the completion of planning documents. The amount of oil which could be produced from these areas represents 14 years of current domestic oil consumption. Think about that, 14 years; yet President Bush and his Republican allies continue to rally behind the oil industry's political agenda, advocating opening more of America's Federal land, including coastal areas and pristine environmental areas, to drilling.

In response to this scheme I say to Big Oil and its allies, ``You've got 'em. Use 'em.''


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