Congressman Denny Rehberg (MT-AL) and Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD-AL) have joined forces in introducing the bipartisan Limit Executive Actions Suspending Energy (LEASE) Act of 2010. This legislation would prevent the executive branch from circumventing Congress to create laws with regard to climate change regulation. Most recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) unilaterally suspended oil and gas leases in three Western states.
"An unelected bureaucrat doesn't have the authority to make policy over the objections of the American people and Congress," said Rehberg, a member of the Congressional Western Caucus. "While protecting the environment is important, so is protecting the economy, and the last thing we need is Washington picking winners and losers in an already struggling economy."
"Once again, we are seeing one-size-fits-all policy being crafted by some in Washington who don't understand the unique needs and strengths of South Dakota," Herseth Sandlin said. "This legislation will ensure that until Congress acts, rural communities are protected from agencies acting on their own and issuing regulations that could harm our energy and agricultural producers, and other industries."
The LEASE Act prevents the head of federal agencies from taking administrative actions to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without express statutory authorization from Congress. Prohibited actions include issuing secretarial orders or regulations and monitoring, mitigating, predicting or documenting so-called greenhouse gas emissions.
Earlier this year, BLM settled a lawsuit filed by several well-funded special interest groups to suspend 61 oil and gas lease sales in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The lawsuit alleged that BLM did not analyze the impacts of climate change as would be required by Secretarial Order 3226, which was issued by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in the final days of the Clinton Administration. BLM also postponed all of its upcoming 2010 lease sales after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided to incorporate climate change evaluation into all decision-making at the Department of Interior (DOI). These regulatory decisions were made without consulting Congress.
An economic analysis by Montana State University Billings concluded that oil and gas development has a total impact of more than $8.6 billion in Montana and supports more than 12,000 jobs. A similar study undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the total direct impact of the oil and gas industry in South Dakota accounts for more than 8,000 jobs. These delays disproportionately affect independent producers, who supply 68 percent of American oil and 82 percent of American natural gas.