Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) released a joint statement on Wednesday blasting the introduction of S. 600, the “Use It or Lose It” bill. They’re exactly right. From “Sens. Murkowski and Begich Opposed to ‘Use it or Lose it’: Unwarranted Fees on Energy Companies Will Result in Less Production, More Imports, and Higher Prices.”

Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the bill was an attempt to shift blame for rising gasoline prices to energy producers.

“While I don’t accept my colleagues’ analysis, I am glad to see them acknowledge that increasing domestic oil production will help address rising energy prices,” Murkowski said. “Unfortunately, their bill is misguided. Our laws already reflect a use-it-or-lose-it policy; that’s why we have lease terms and a range of lease fees. It is the current administration’s intentional slowdown of the permitting process that is stopping millions of acres onshore and offshore from producing the energy we need. In Alaska, ConocoPhillips and Shell have both seen work on promising oil projects blocked by government obstruction. To hold them responsible – and force them to pay for delays that are not their fault – is simply absurd.”

Sen. Begich:
“I’m glad to hear that some of my Senate colleagues are as impatient as I am to develop our domestic oil and gas reserves,” Begich said. “However, the most important thing we can do to encourage oil companies to develop existing leases is to clear the bureaucratic red tape in federal agencies and minimize the roadblocks to development. In Alaska, responsible development efforts on federal land have regularly been stalled or stopped in their tracks. Before we impose new punishments on the industry, let’s reexamine what’s not working with leases in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, federal land set aside specifically for oil and gas development, and efforts to develop reserves in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.”

Shell has invested nearly $4 billion in leases off Alaska’s northern coast, but its exploration plans have been blocked for five years by permitting delays and environmental lawsuits.

Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Charles Schumer of New York, and Bill Nelson of Florida held a news conference yesterday to announce the bill. Even though the Senators do not represent oil states, we hope their constituents will recognize the politically motivated legislation for what it is — a distraction from addressing America’s serious energy needs.

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