Today the House of Representatives passed a bill cosponsored by Congressman Kevin Cramer which opens up energy development in the most productive offshore regions, and streamlines federal agencies involved in the leasing process. The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act requires the Obama Administration to revise its policies on offshore oil and natural gas development, which currently keep 85% of potential energy sites off-limits.
"The President has been pedaling backward on energy development ever since he took office, and the effects of his policies are showing in the stagnant national economy," Cramer said. "Under current and planned federal energy policy, any person who simply wants low-cost energy is out of luck. Piece by piece, we are working in the House of Representatives to undo and prevent the damage of these misguided regulations. We can't afford to ignore the oil and gas sitting just off our shores, just as we can't afford to ignore the vast resources underneath the North Dakota soil."
When gas prices spiked in 2008, Congress and the President joined together to end the moratorium on offshore drilling. This direction was abandoned when President Obama took office and began to systematically delay and cancel offshore lease sales, a time when the price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.89. In July 2012, President Obama released a new five-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leasing program which blocks energy development on 85 percent of all offshore areas. The plan contains the lowest number of offshore lease sales (15) ever offered since the inception of the five-year program in 1980.
The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act requires the Obama Administration to submit a new lease plan which includes at least 50 percent of areas containing the greatest known energy reserves on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, unlocking new energy sources and creating up to 1.2 million jobs in the long-term.
"This legislation will create thousands of high-paying jobs the rest of America desperately needs," Cramer added.
The bill also streamlines oversight of the leasing program at the U.S. Department of the Interior by reorganizing agencies into duty-specific categories, and enhances safety by requiring federal employees who conduct inspections to have at least three years of experience in the oil and natural gas industry, and a degree in an appropriate field.