Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oil Drilling News


Democratic bill to end oil subsidies is defeated in the Senate

It's important to note that "defeated" means it received less than a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes, although a majority of senators (52 of 100) did approve this legislation.  See below for a different spin on this.

League of Conservation Voters Statement on Oil Subsidy Vote
"Today, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate voted to repeal billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the nation's most profitable oil companies. Repealing these tax breaks would result in $21 billion in revenue over the next decade that this legislation aimed to use to cut the deficit. League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski issued the following statement in response:
"As American families struggle with high gas prices and Big Oil continues to reap record profits, a bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to repeal billions in taxpayer handouts to the most profitable oil companies. But unfortunately, enough Senators beholden to Big Oil were able to block eliminating these superfluous subsidies, even though those savings would have been directed to cutting the national deficit. Their record profits as well as previous statements by their CEOs don't lie: the most profitable oil companies don't need to be subsidized. Congress must once and for all end these taxpayer-funded giveaways that allow oil companies to profit off consumers twice: once at the pump and again from our federal taxes."
The 48 senators who voted to maintain oil industry handouts received, on average, more than four times more campaign cash  from oil and gas interests during their careers than the 52 senators who sided with American families. Additionally, all 12 senators who have received more than $500,000 in campaign cash from oil and gas interests during their careers voted to protect Big Oil's giveaways."

White House Statement on GOP Drilling Bill

"The Administration is committed to promoting safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production as part of a broad energy strategy that will protect consumers and reduce our dependence on oil.  Safety and environmental reforms that the Administration implemented in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are critical to achieving those objectives.  These reforms strengthen requirements for issues ranging from well design to workplace safety to corporate accountability, and they require operators to show that they can contain a subsea oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  S. 953 generally would undercut these critical reforms; therefore, the Administration opposes S. 953. 
S. 953 would undermine the Administration's work to ensure that environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is conducted in a rigorous manner.  S. 953 would hastily open areas of the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and the Atlantic to leasing, and require the Department of the Interior (DOI) to hold multiple lease sales in the Gulf and Alaska using outdated NEPA analysis that was conducted before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Administration has strengthened NEPA analysis in light of lessons learned from the spill and is committed to responsible development in the Gulf and the Arctic.  DOI intends to hold the Gulf lease sales referenced in the bill by mid-2012.  With respect to Alaska, DOI has committed to holding annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve while respecting sensitive areas, encouraging development of existing leases by establishing a high-level interagency working group to coordinate the permitting process (including necessary environmental and safety reviews), and extending certain offshore leases. 
S. 953 would constrain the ability of DOI to ensure that permits meet safety standards by requiring permitting decisions to be made within 30 days of receiving an application, thereby curtailing the review period.  Two 15-day extensions would be possible, though DOI would be required to submit burdensome justifications.  The bill would grant permits automatically at the end of this 60-day window, regardless of whether the applicant satisfied safety standards.  These concerns also arise over environmental safeguards and reviews.  The Administration believes these statutory time constraints are unwarranted.  Fifty-three new shallow water permits have been issued since the Administration's stronger safety standards were put in place, and deepwater permit applications also are being processed in a timely manner.  Since the end of February, when industry first demonstrated to safety regulators the capability to contain a subsea spill, fourteen deepwater wells have been permitted.
S. 953 also would require the Secretary of the Interior to grant an automatic one-year suspension of leases (effectively extending the term of the leases) in the Gulf.  The Administration fully supports suspensions for Gulf leaseholders directly impacted by the drilling moratorium.  Ten such suspensions have already been granted using administrative procedures to leaseholders who demonstrated that they were affected by the moratoria."

The McConnell Bill S.953 was rejected today 42-57.  Here is the League of Conservation Voters Statement:

"We are encouraged that the Senate rejected this irresponsible drilling proposal that puts our economy and our environment at risk. However, it's time for Republican leadership to stop pushing their 'oil above all' energy strategy and start getting serious about addressing our nation's energy needs.
With gas prices high, now is the time to reduce our dangerous and expensive dependence on oil. We call on Congress to put an end to these blatant attempts to further Big Oil's record profits and instead work to achieve what a majority of Americans really want: eliminate the billions in unnecessary taxpayer subsidies that allow oil companies to profit off consumers twice—once at the pump and once on tax day."

Senate slams GOP drilling bill

Salazar outlines specific legislative priorities for oil, gas