Congressman Jim Matheson says energy legislation he has introduced is an "everything on the table" response to high gasoline prices and the economic and national security need in the U.S. to import less foreign oil. Matheson authored and introduced the "Fulfilling U.S. Energy Leadership (FUEL) Act.
"Utah families recognize that we face a complicated challenge--one that will take a comprehensive approach to meet," said Matheson. "I believe we have to pull all the levers available to us, starting with producing as much oil and natural gas in this country as possible."
Matheson's bill encourages traditional energy production; renewable and alternative energy research and development; nuclear energy research; and a plan to streamline locating and building electricity transmission lines.
To improve the process for companies seeking permits to drill for oil and gas onshore, Matheson's bill establishes the Federal Onshore Energy Development Task Force. The task force, which includes Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA and other federal agencies, must issue a plan within one year outlining steps for streamlining oil and gas applications. Matheson said there will be a 60-day public comment period before the plan is finalized.
The legislation also promotes and expands oil and gas drilling and production on the outer continental shelf and the Gulf of Mexico, while adopting safety recommendations from the BP Oil Spill Commission report.
Matheson said his bill divides offshore oil royalties between the states and the federal government, 25% to the states and 75% to the federal government. Of that 75%, 50% will be used for the development of next-generation energy technologies, through a Next Generation Energy and Efficiency Fund.
"With that money, the Department of Energy can invest in technologies that will --over the long term--provide alternative transportation and power options, such as solar, geothermal, marine and hydrokinetic energy, and advanced battery technology and plug-in hybrids," said Matheson. "But the bridge to the future must be built using today's energy sources that power our economy and provide employment now."