Oil Drilling in Alaska – S02E14
This week, we look at H.R. 2021, a proposal that would streamline the permitting process for offshore oil drilling in Alaska. This legislation, part of the American Energy Initiative championed by House Republicans, is just one of many pending proposals to tear down environmental regulations and strip federal agencies, specifically the EPA, of any teeth.
90 Second Summaries: Season 2, Episode 14
H.R. 2021: The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
Sponsor: Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO4)
Cosponsors: 26 (1 Democrat, 25 Republicans). Full list at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:HR02021:@@@P
Senate Companion: S. 1226, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Introduced 6/16, 12 cosponsors, no action scheduled.
Status: Passed House on 6/22/11 by a 253-166 margin. 23 Democrats voted aye and two Republicans voted no. Fate unclear in the Senate, although it may be rolled into a larger energy bill later in the year.
Purpose: Fueled by a desire to expand the supply of domestic energy resources, House Republicans have adopted a platform called the American Energy Initiative. While it appears to be primarily a branding effort for a scattered group of energy-related bills rather than a carefully coordinated agenda, the overarching theme of the American Energy Initiative is reducing regulatory barriers in order to increase domestic energy production. The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011 is crafted with that mission in mind.
Summary: H.R. 2021 is designed to streamline the process for energy companies to obtain drilling permits in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Specifically, it:
• Requires that permit applications be approved or denied by EPA within six months;
• Strips the authority of EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to consider applications;
• States that evaluation of air quality near drilling sites is to be solely determined by impact on nearby onshore areas;
• Exempts ships traveling to or from drilling site from any emission control measures.
CBO Score: No significant budget impact.
More detail: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/122xx/doc12234/hr2021.pdf
Supporters: most Republicans, energy companies, most Alaskans
• Supporters claim increased production of domestic energy sources, especially but not limited to oil and natural gas, will be the key to lowering energy prices and creating needed American jobs. This initiative is one of a series of measures designed to facilitate that production by removing regulatory barriers.
Opponents: most Democrats, environmentalists
• Opponents decry the legislation’s potential to harm air quality, especially in the vicinity of oil and gas drilling. They also see this measure as a piece of a larger effort to systematically gut the Clean Air Act and undermine its positive public health impacts in order to further line to pockets of Big Oil interests.