Thursday, June 21, 2012

House Passes Controversial Domestic Energy & Jobs Act; 248-163

Jun 21: The U.S. House passed the Republican sponsored Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (H.R.4480), a legislative package comprised of a series of bills which they say "aim to increase access to American energy resources and prevent misguided federal policies that will drive energy prices higher." [See WIMS 6/7/12]. The bill passed largely along party lines with a vote of 248-163, with 21 Representatives not voting. Nineteen Democrats joined 229 Republicans to approve the bill.
    Yesterday (June 20) on the House Floor, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman delivered a statement in support of H.R.4480, saying in part, "The price of gasoline and the unemployment rate both remain far too high, and American families are struggling as a result. That's why I support H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, and I urge my colleagues to do the same. This bill is truly a win-win -- the steps it takes to expand supplies of affordable domestic energy will create many jobs in the process.

    "It's no secret that I don't see eye-to-eye with President Obama on energy policy, but perhaps the most inexplicable energy policy move this administration has made was the June 2011 decision to withdraw 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with no plan to replace them. It is hard to understand why the President would take oil from the nation's emergency stockpile while at the same time keeping off-limits the far greater amounts beneath federally controlled lands and offshore areas. It's like a couple pawning their wedding rings for cash while ignoring a major gold discovery in their backyard. The amount of untapped oil in areas kept out of reach by the Obama administration is estimated to exceed the entire Strategic Petroleum Reserve dozens of times over. . ."

    Following approval today, Representative Cory Gardner's (R-CO) sponsor of the package of domestic energy production legislation, said, "The package of seven bills enjoyed bipartisan support in the House," and urged the United States Senate to consider the legislation. He said, "There is no reason for the United States Senate not to consider the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act and send it to President Obama's desk this summer. The seven bills in this package provide an opportunity for job growth and energy security. These bipartisan pieces of legislation make sure that we move forward on oil and gas development in the western United States and on federal lands, and that we take steps to ensure our nation relies on American made energy, provided by American jobs."
    However, it is unlikely the Democratically-controlled Senate will consider the bill and the White House has already issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the bill saying that if the bill were presented to the President, White House senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill [See WIMS 6/19/12]. The White House said the bill would, ". . .undermine the Nation's energy security, roll back policies that support the continued growth of safe and responsible energy production in the United States, discourage environmental analysis and civic engagement in Federal decision-making, and impede progress on important Clean Air Act (CAA) rules to protect the health of American families. H.R. 4480 would threaten energy security and broader national security by attaching conditions to the drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) that could hinder the President's ability to respond appropriately and lawfully to a disruption in the Nation's energy supply. . . H.R. 4480 also would reverse Administration oil and gas leasing reforms that have established orderly, open, efficient, and environmentally sound processes for energy development on public lands. . ."
    Bills included in House-passed Domestic Energy and Jobs Act:
  • Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012, H.R. 4480 (Rep. Cory Gardner, CO)
  • Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012, H.R. 4471 (Rep. Ed Whitfield, KY)
  • Planning for American Energy Act of 2012, H.R.4381 (Rep. Scott Tipton, CO)
  • Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act of 2012, H.R 4382 (Rep. Mike Coffman, CO)
  • Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act of 2012, H.R. 4383 (Rep. Doug Lamborn, CO) 
  • National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act, H.R. 2150 (Rep. "Doc" Hastings, WA) 
  • BLM Live Internet Auctions Act, H.R. 2752 (Rep. Bill Johnson, OH)
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, "Today, the House will pass the Domestic Energy & Jobs Act, which will help create good-paying jobs by expanding American energy production. This is the latest in a series of more than 30 House-passed jobs bills that have removed government barriers to economic growth and stopped policies that are driving up gas prices. I also want to be clear about something: House Republicans want to get a highway bill done. We want a bill, and our colleagues are working toward producing a bill. We just want to make sure it's a bill that includes real reforms, to ensure that taxpayer funds are paying for legitimate projects that support economic activity -- not planting more flowers and beautification projects around the country. We also continue to support bipartisan, job-creating initiatives like the Keystone pipeline."
    House Democratic environmental leaders, Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) indicated that they "denounced the bill as yet another large-scale giveaway to oil companies by House Republicans, who have established the most anti-environmental and pro-oil company agenda in the history of Congress." They said the bill would transfer hundreds of thousands of square miles of America's public lands to oil companies, while protecting the $4 billion in subsidies the biggest oil companies receive from taxpayers each year."
    Rep. Markey, the Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee said, "Republicans passed a bill that would cede nearly all of America's public lands to oil companies within just a few short years, but wouldn't even allow a debate on wind, solar, and a real 'all of the above' energy strategy. This debate was a sham, this legislation is a scam, and the American people need to know these are the 'oil above all' policies that a Mitt Romney administration would put into place. Rep. Waxman, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee said, "This bill is a stealth attack on the Clean Air Act. It might be great news for big oil, but it means more pollution for the American people." They said, while the bill will not be considered further it, "contains a dangerous preview of the policies that would be implemented if Mitt Romney and Republicans retake the White House and Congress."
    The American Petroleum Institute's (API) Executive Vice President Marty Durbin applauded the House action saying, "Greater access to domestic energy resources combined with smarter policies that boost our refining industry will benefit consumers in the long run. More home grown energy is good for all Americans. . . The legislation would establish an 'all the above' energy program for federal lands that would open up more areas for energy production while streamlining the permitting process. . . KXL [Keystone XL pipeline] will put thousands of Americans to work. It has and continues to be one of the greatest shovel-ready projects awaiting approval. We urge the transportation conferees to include the Keystone provision in the final Highway bill agreement. Unemployment remains high, now is not the time to deny good paying energy jobs. We cannot have regulations that are solutions in search of a problem. Consumers should be informed about the costs certain regulations have on the price of producing gasoline and diesel." 
   Sierra Club issued a statement saying, "John Boehner and his House Republicans have regurgitated Big Oil's playbook and called it a jobs plan. If you're looking for an example of why Congress' approval rating is dipping to all-time lows, look no further. This disgraceful legislation is just their latest attempt to put oil above all -- especially the needs of American families. While Americans are paying more for gas, House Republicans are more concerned about coddling Exxon and BP and forking over our public lands for more drilling and destruction. While families are struggling to make ends meet, Boehner and his ilk are turning over billions in tax giveaways to companies already making record profits. If we've learned one thing this Congress it's that House Republicans are asking 'how high?' before Big Oil even asks them to jump."
    Access the floor statement and video from Rep. Upton (click here). Access a release from Rep. Gardner (click here). Access the statement and video from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access the joint release from Reps. Markey and Waxman (click here). Access the statement from Sierra Club (click here). Access the statement from API (click here). Access the floor consideration and amendment votes for H.R.4480 (click here). Access the roll call vote details (click here). Access the Policy Statement for H.R.4480 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.4480 (click here). [#Air, #Energy]
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