US House approves sweeping, likely symbolic energy bill
Washington (Platts)--21Jun2012/302 pm EDT/1902 GMT
The US House of Representatives passed a sweeping -- but likely symbolic
-- energy bill on Thursday, after voting down a handful of amendments from
Democrats and tacking on a few additional Republican priorities.
The bill, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 4480), passed largely
along party lines, 248-163.
The bill comprises seven previously introduced bills that address a
laundry list of Republican energy goals, including blocking proposed
pollution standards for gasoline, requiring the Department of Interior to
open at least 25% of land in which there is development interest to oil and
natural gas leasing, and conduct Internet-based auctions for onshore energy
Despite the bill's quick passage through the House, it is not expected
to advance through the Democrat-led Senate. And the White House on Tuesday
threatened to veto the bill, saying it would undermine national security,
harm public health and interfere with federal regulatory agencies.
Article continues below...
|Request a free trial of: Oilgram News|
Oilgram News brings fast-breaking global petroleum and gas news to your desktop every day. Our extensive global network of correspondents report on supply and demand trends, corporate news, government actions, exploration, technology, and much more.
In a House speech Thursday, H.R. 4480 sponsor Representative Cory
Gardner, Republican-Colorado, said the bill is key to unlocking US oil and gas
production and reducing gasoline prices
"You know what will help people move forward? It's making sure they can
afford the gasoline they need to put into their tank," said Gardner.
The second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer, of
Maryland, said in a House speech Thursday the bill would not lower gasoline
prices, which have fallen in recent weeks.
"While gas prices have thankfully retreated, the bill would have an
extreme, drill-only strategy that won't lower gasoline prices," Hoyer said.
"That bill is notable for what it doesn't do: invest in energy resources that
create jobs and enhance energy security."
In votes Wednesday and Thursday, the House adopted several amendments,
including one by Representative Scott Rigell, Republican-Virginia, to require
Lease Sale 220, which would involve waters off the coast of Virginia, be held
within a year of the bill's enactment.
It also passed an amendment by Representative Lee Terry,
Republican-Nebraska, to let the Environmental Protection Agency temporarily
waive certain gasoline regulations when fuel additives are not available, but
Terry withdrew his amendment to require the Obama administration to issue a
permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Terry spokeswoman Vikki Riley said her boss decided not to offer the
amendment after he realized his office made a technical error in crafting its
language while rushing to meet a tight deadline for submitting the proposal.
Terry will continue to work to attach his Keystone XL amendment to future
bills, Riley said.
The House also added an amendment by Representative Mark Amodei,
Republican-Nevada, to prevent a merger between the Bureau of Land Management
and Office of Surface Mining. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar floated a merger
plan in 2011, but after a backlash said earlier in 2012 the two agencies would
only merge a handful of administrative functions.
Republicans defeated every Democratic amendment, including measures that
would have banned hydraulic fracturing activities within 1,000 feet of a
school, prevented oil and gas produced from some new leases from being
exported, and to divert $128 million in proceeds from those leases to fund
the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.
The seven smaller bills that make up H.R. 4480 are:
H.R. 4471, which would block EPA from imposing planned regulations to
limit the sulfur content of gasoline, ozone air quality standards, and
mercury and air toxics standards for oil refineries, and to require EPA to
take costs into account when drafting air quality regulations.
H.R. 4381, which would require targets for energy production on federal
H.R. 4382, which would require Interior to open for leasing at least 25%
of federal land where developers express an interest.
H.R. 4383, which would set a 60-day deadline for decisions on oil and
gas permits, and streamline renewable energy permitting on federal lands.
H.R. 4480, which would require the president to open new areas to oil and
gas leasing if the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is tapped.
H.R. 2150, which would require Interior to develop a plan within 270
days to permit roads and other infrastructure needed to develop National
And H.R. 2752, which would require BLM to conduct oil and gas auctions
--Keith Chu, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, email@example.com