House leadership to Fossil Fuel industry: Use it or lose it!

Tired of the unending truthiness Republican cries to DRILL, DRILL, DRILL in a disingenuous truthiness efforts that turns us (US) aside from discussion of energy efficiency and moving off fossil fuels, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and others in the House leadership issued an ultimatum to oil companies: Drill on the leases you have or lose the leases!

“Big Oil, as many Americans already suspect, are perfectly fine with high gasoline prices at the pump while they hold back domestic production on federal leases and enjoy world record profits. I am calling them on the carpet. I am calling their bluff. We are not going to continue to allow them to speculate and profiteer with public resources to the detriment of the American people.”

It turns out that massive amounts of leased land, leased for natural gas and oil exploration, are lying fallow. Lying fallow with the potential to double US oil production. In the face of this, Republicans (and Republican stooges like George Will) scream about drilling in national parks and in sensitive off-shore areas.

Just released is the House report The Truth About America’s Energy: Big Oil Stockpiles Supplies and Pockets Profits which highlights some critical points:

Increased drilling and increased drilling permits from 1999-2007 have had a noticeable impact on gasoline prices.

Energy companies are not using the lands already opened to exploration drilling, with about 25% of leased lands involved in energy production.

If we extrapolate from today=s production rates on federal land and waters, we can estimate that the 68 million acres of leased but currently inactive federal land and waters could produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day.

If accurate, this is a massive amount, enough to enable cutting imports by a third.

The Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act of 2008 is a direct response to the facts outlined in the recent House Natural Resources Committee Majority Staff report that illustrate how energy companies are not using the federal lands and waters that are already open to drilling. The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).

The Rahall bill would force oil and gas companies to either produce or give up federal onshore and offshore leases they are stockpiling by barring the companies from obtaining any more leases unless they can demonstrate that they are producing oil and gas, or are diligently developing the leases they already hold, during the initial term of the leases.

Coal companies, which are issued leases for 20-year terms, are required, as a result of the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976 to show that they are diligently developing their leases during the initial lease term. The law was enacted in an effort to end rampant speculation on federal coal as a result of the energy crises of the 1970’s.

Oil and gas companies, however, are not required to demonstrate diligent development. Because of this, oil and gas companies have been allowed to stockpile leases in a non-producing status, while leaving millions of acres of leased land untouched. The Rahall legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to define what constitutes diligent development for oil and gas leases.

Companies could avoid this new lease prohibition by relinquishing their non-producing leases, thus creating an opportunity for another company to explore for and perhaps produce oil and gas.

“As long as oil companies hold oil hostage, they will continue to get away with charging high prices and demanding a greater share of the public’s land. This bill forces their hand by compelling them to produce or hand the over their idle leases for someone who will,” Rahall said.

The message is quite simple: Use it or Lose it!

3 responses to “House leadership to Fossil Fuel industry: Use it or lose it!

  1. How can I help speed along the process for this potential bill? It MUT receive over 2/3 or Bush will just veto it. He is happy with how things are or they wouldn’t be like this. PLEASE tell me what I can do.

  2. Susan,

    Contact your members of Congress … And encourage others to do so.

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