By Jessica Goad and Daniel J. Weiss
Yesterday, House Republicans led by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unveiled the “Domestic Energy and Jobs Act.”
It combines seven bills passed by House committees that include measures to block public health safeguards from smog and toxic air pollution, mandate drilling public lands, and punish citizens for raising concerns about harm from oil and gas production on places owned by all Americans. It is specifically designed to increase oil and gas development.
The GOP claims that it supports an “all of the above” energy strategy. But the McCarthy bill was announced the same day that the House passed the energy spending bill for fiscal year 2013 that slashes investments in clean energy research and deployment by more than $500 million.
Instead, the McCarthy bill focuses almost exclusively on weakening public health protections from air pollution and the expansion of oil and natural gas drilling regardless of its harms to hunting, water, or wildlife. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) noted that:
House Republicans are sending a love letter to the oil industry in the form of another oil-above-all scheme.
The McCarthy bill is based on a false premise – that the United States is producing too little oil and gas and that is why gasoline prices spiked earlier this year. But this is not the case, which the facts show:
– Oil and gas production in the United States is the highest since 1998
– Oil imports are at their lowest since 1997
– There are more drilling rigs in the United States than the rest of the world combined
– Associated Press research concluded that there is “no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.”
– Oil and gas companies are sitting 7,000 unexplored or undeveloped leases on public lands
The ingredients of this “oil above all” agenda include the following bills.
Gasoline Regulations Act (H.R. 4471) from Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
– Blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing public health protection requirements of the Clean Air Act that are designed to prevent premature deaths, asthma attacks, and respiratory disease
– Halts updating health standards based on the best science, and instead bases them on oil and other industry claims about cleanup costs
– Stops modernization of pollution controls on oil refineries, cars, and fuels that reflect the latest technology
Planning for American Energy Act (H.R. 4381) from Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
– Requires meeting a “domestic strategic production objective” for energy, which ignores other uses of public lands like hunting, fishing, and recreation
Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act (H.R. 4382) from Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
– Turns land management decisions over to the oil and gas industry by forcing the Bureau of Land Management to lease one-quarter of the lands that the industry wants to drill regardless of the harm to hunting, water quality, wildlife or other values
Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act (H.R. 4383) from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
– Requires the Department of the Interior to issue drilling leases after a fixed time regardless of concerns about potential oil spills or other contamination that would harm hunting, fishing, and other environmental values
– Impedes citizens’ ability to exercise their legal right to raise concerns about proposed oil and gas leases by charging $5,000 to do so
Strategic Energy Production Act (H.R. 4480) from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
– Requires leasing of additional public lands in the same proportion as the sale of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which could make it more difficult for the President to respond to an emergency oil supply disruption
National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act (H.R. 2150) from Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)
– Mandates oil and gas leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, whether or not there are conflicts with hunting, fishing, wildlife, or other values
BLM Live Internet Auctions Act (H.R. 2752) from Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH)
– Allows onshore oil and gas lease sales through Internet-based live lease sales
Jessica is the Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project and Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.