Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today joined the House in passing legislation to increase domestic energy production, create jobs and lower prices. H.R. 1331, the Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, will lift the President's ban on new offshore drilling by requiring the Administration to move forward on American energy production.
"When it comes to domestic energy, we are starving to death at an all-you-can-eat buffet," said Rehberg, who sits on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. "We've got all the energy we could ever use right under our noses, but federal bureaucrats are pandering to extremist special interest groups and preventing America from getting to it. Meanwhile, we're losing jobs and paying way too much at the pump."
Responding to record-high gasoline prices in 2008, a bipartisan action by Congress and the President ended the decades-long ban on offshore drilling. Unfortunately, since taking office, President Obama has taken steps to re-impose an offshore drilling moratorium. He first abandoned the (2010-2015) leasing plan that would have allowed for drilling in these newly opened areas. He postponed and cancelled previously scheduled lease sales. He later announced a restrictive drilling plan that placed the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Eastern Gulf off-limits to future energy production -- the way it was before the record high gasoline prices of 2008.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, H.R. 1331 would require that each five-year offshore leasing plan include lease sales in the areas containing the greatest known oil and natural gas reserves. At least half of those areas must be made available for leasing in the 2012-2017 plan. Currently, the Obama Administration's 2012-2017 draft plan includes no new leasing and drilling, only possible future lease sales in the Gulf. The requirements to lease in these most promising offshore areas reverses the Administration's effective moratorium on opening new areas. The legislation also requires the Secretary of the Interior to establish a production goal when writing a five-year leasing plan.
H.R. 1231 will generate $800 million in revenue over 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office.
"The House is passing legislation to solve problems," said Rehberg. "I hope the Senate will get to work doing the same."
Last week, the House Passed H.R. 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, which requires the Department of the Interior to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. The Senate has yet to act on it.
Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, which ends the de facto moratorium -- or permitorium -- on offshore energy exploration that has been imposed by the Obama Administration. The Senate has yet to act on it.
H.R. 1229, 1230 and 1231 could create 250,000 jobs short-term and 1.2 million jobs long-term according to Dr. Joseph Mason, economist and professor at Louisiana State University.