House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today unveiled draft legislation, H.R. 6082, the Congressional Replacement of President Obama's Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling Plan, to implement a new lease plan for developing the United States' offshore energy resources over the next five years. A Full Committee markup of the bill will be held on Wednesday, July 11th July 18th.
The bill includes a plan that would replace the Obama Administration's final offshore drilling plan, announced on June 28th, which keeps 85 percent of America's offshore areas off-limits to energy production. Under current law (Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act), President Obama's proposed plan does not become final and in effect until it undergoes a mandatory 60-day Congressional review:
"At least sixty days prior to approving a proposed leasing program, the Secretary shall submit it to the President and the Congress, together with any comments received. Such submission shall indicate why any specific recommendation of the Attorney General or a State or local government was not accepted."
Interior Secretary Salazar delivered the President's plan for Congressional review on June 28th. Over the past several months, the Natural Resources Committee has held multiple hearings on the President's proposed 2012-2017 offshore lease plan. Now, as part of the law's mandatory 60-day review by Congress, House Republicans will make clear that the President's plan is unacceptable and will replace it with an environmentally responsible plan that truly supports increased American energy and American jobs.
"President Obama's rewritten offshore plan represents a giant step backwards for American offshore energy production and a giant lost opportunity to create over a million new American jobs. The Obama plan closes off 85% of America's offshore resources and effectively reimposes the drilling moratoria lifted by Congress and President Bush in 2008 when gas prices set record highs. Under the law, Congress has 60 days to review President Obama's plan before it takes effect. The legislation that the Committee will act on would replace the energy-restricting and job-limiting Obama plan with a responsible, robust offshore drilling plan that will create new jobs by safely opening new areas known to possess the greatest offshore energy resources," said Chairman Hastings. "The replacement plan specifically provides for opening offshore Virginia to drilling, with the first of several lease sales starting in 2013. President Obama cancelled a lease sale off Virginia scheduled for 2011 and the President's plan doesn't allow energy production off Virginia until 2017 or later."
When President Obama took office, there was a plan in place to conduct lease sales in new offshore areas that were previously under Congressional and Presidential moratoria, which were lifted in late 2008 when gas prices climbed to $4 per gallon. Instead of moving forward to vastly increase American energy production and create new jobs, President Obama tossed aside that plan and canceled multiple lease sales. Three and a half years later, the President released a proposed final plan that prohibits offshore drilling in new areas and only allows lease sales to occur in areas that are already open. Despite claims of being proud of their energy record, the Administration deliberately chose to unveil their proposed final five-year offshore plan on the very day of the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare, all in an effort to bury news coverage of this setback to job creation and more American-made energy.
In contrast to the President's plan, the leasing plan included in Chairman Hastings' bill moves forward with lease sales in new areas, including the Mid-Atlantic off Virginia. President Obama cancelled a Virginia lease sale scheduled for 2011. Under President Obama's plan, the soonest that a lease sale could occur off of Virginia would be in the year 2017. The areas where lease sales occur in Chairman Hastings' bill are those known to contain the greatest known amounts of oil and natural gas resources, which will provide new opportunities for increased energy production and job creation. Specifically, the bill would implement a new lease sale schedule (shown below), protect national defense and military operations, and provide for separate environmental impact statements for each specific lease sale.
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