The House of Representatives is set this week to vote on a set Republican-backed bills that would loosen energy companies’ ability to drill for oil within the country and would place a blow against drilling protesters.
The Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, H.R. 1965, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), is packed with a number of provisions that will expand the liberties of drilling companies.
If the bill passes, companies will more easily be able to drill on public land by way of automatic approval for onshore drilling, should the Department of Interior miss the 60-day permit challenge deadline outlined in the bill. The bill attacks would-be drilling protesters as one would have to pay $5,000 protest fee.
ThinkProgress also reported that the bill opens up the pursuit of oil shale for energy companies. Oil shale production has been prohibited since the Hoover Administration after President Herbert Hoover disallowed the use of federal land for such production. The planet’s largest oil shale deposits are in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah and the government owns 70 percent of that land.
The Natural Resources Defense Council staunchly opposes the development of oil shale production, and noted that carbon pollution would increase fourfold as a result. The bill calls for the government to give up 10 leases next year for oil shale development and must hold 5 leases with a minimum 25,000 acres before 2016.
The White House has already poised itself to veto the bill should it make it through Congress, saying that the bills would “dismantle important important protections.”
In a White House statement, “The bill, as reported, would undermine these efforts and instead require [Interior’s Bureau of Land Management] to defer to existing State regulations on hydraulic fracturing on Federal lands, regardless of the quality or comprehensiveness of the State regulations – thereby preventing consistent environmental protections.”
The bills will surely face a tougher time getting through the Democrat-run Senate than the Republican-run House, especially with the growing divide between the parties in the Senate over GOP obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominees.
The White House continued, saying that “H.R.1965 runs contrary to the Administration’s commitment to promoting safe and responsible domestic oil and gas development as part of an energy strategy that reduces the Nation’s dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic production and increasing the fuel economy of the country’s cars and trucks.”