Tag: Robert Menendez

Alaska’s Senators Debunk ‘Use It or Lose It’ Distraction on Energy

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: (continue reading…)

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‘Use It or Lose It’ Meant to Distract from Real Energy Debate at

President Obama used his recent news conference on energy to dust off his discredited campaign claim that energy companies are sitting on leases.

“There is more we can do, however. For example, right now, the industry holds leases on tens of millions of acres — both offshore and on land — where they aren’t producing a thing,” the President said, announcing he had asked the Department of Interior “to determine just how many of these leases are going undeveloped.”

“People deserve to know that the energy they depend on is being developed in a timely manner,” President Obama continued.

On Wednesday, three Senate Democrats reinforced the President’s misdirection by introducing S. 600, a bill to promote the diligent development of Federal oil and gas leases. At a news conference, chief sponsor Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) dubbed the measure the “Use It or Lose It” bill. From the news release, “Senators Demand Oil Companies ‘Use It or Lose It’ on Drilling Leases“:

Under current law, oil companies can lease possible oil reserves on Federal land regardless of whether they are producing oil on that land or even have plans to produce oil there. In some cases, oil companies are leasing – but failing to develop – federal land in order to book more reserves on their balance sheet and inflate their stock price. In others, oil companies are attempting to prevent competitors from producing on those acres.

One can appreciate the President and Senators’ motivation to deflect the public’s attention from the Administration’s failure to promote domestic energy development. Unfortunately, in this display of message discipline, the message is bunk.

Erik Milito at the American Petroleum Institute explained the realities of oil and gas leasing at EnergyTomorrow.org, the API’s blog, in a post appropriately titled, “The ‘Use It or Lose It’ Deception“:

The administration itself is preventing the industry from developing these leases because it is not issuing permits to drill or conduct seismic studies of these leases. They want the industry to develop the leases it already possesses, but they won’t grant the permits to do so.

Companies pay millions of dollars to acquire these leases (each lease costs at least $250,000 and some have gone for more than $100,000,000), further fees for renting the leases and the leases have a finite term. If a company does not produce oil or gas from a lease then they are required to return it to the government. In other words “use it or lose it” is already the law.

These are very successful and sophisticated companies that are engaged in this business and it makes no logical sense for companies to pay millions of dollars to purchase leases, sit on them for 10 years, and then give them back to the government. They make money by supplying the American economy with the energy it needs to grow, not from sitting on assets.

The fact that the companies invest billions of dollars to develop these leases demonstrates their commitment to finding oil and gas, Milito explains. And the argument ignores the basic reality of the oil and natural gas industry, that companies purchase leases in order to explore for resources, and one cannot ascertain if they will produce until exploratory wells are drilled.

The President knows these facts, and if he wants a detailed accounting of the leases, he should instruct Secretary Salazar to hit the “print” command to produce a list. This month’s revival of the “use or lose it” canard is meant to evade the serious discussion — the accountability — about the critically needed development of America’s abundant domestic energy resources. It’s transparent politics.

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In Oil Commission Report, Substituting Politics for Context

American Petroleum Institute, “API response to commission report: ‘We’ve made progress to improve safety’“:

API Upstream Director Erik Milito said the group is still in the process of reviewing the commission’s report but is pleased the commission is recommending increased funding for the federal agency responsible for inspecting and monitoring offshore activity. However, he said API is deeply concerned that the commission’s report casts doubt on an entire industry based on its study of a single incident.

“This does a great disservice to the thousands of men and women who work in the industry and have the highest personal and professional commitment to safety,” Milito said.

Dan Kish, Senior Vice President at the Institute for Energy Research, “IER: BP Spill Commission Was Flawed From the Start“:

This commission has had problems from the beginning – it has seemed to prioritize creating political cover for the Obama Administration over working towards becoming a fact-finding body. That’s because it’s full of politicians, activists and opponents of offshore drilling. The public needs to know that the Macondo spill was an isolated incident that tragically differed from the oil and gas industry’s history in the Gulf: 60 successful years that generated 50,000 successful wells.

Washington Examiner editorial, “Oil spill antidote: More federal bureaucracy“:

It wasn’t hard to predict the sort of recommendations to expect from the seven-member National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling when President Obama appointed Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, Union of Concerned Scientists board member Fran Ulmer and five other Democratic donors to the panel. All seven oppose offshore oil and gas activity and are environmental movement stalwarts. … (continue reading…)

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Be Careful in Raising Liability Cap on Deepwater Drilling

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling today released its final report making numerous recommendations, including an increase in the current $75 million cap on liability for offshore drilling accidents. The oil spill dommission did not recommend a specific figure for the higher cap, leaving that decision up to Congress.

Manufacturers believe that a substantial or unlimited cap increase is not the solution. Before taking any action, Congress should take a close look at the impact of any cap increase on the industry. Any substantial increase to the liability limit will inevitably lead to higher insurance rates, making operations in the U.S. waters potentially so expensive as to drive producers out of the Gulf overseas. Smaller independent operators, in particular, would suffer competitively. (See this American Petroleum Institute paper, “Impacts of Increased Liability Limits on OCS Operations.”) The result would be to continue an unofficial moratorium on offshore drilling.

Last session, there were discussions of an unlimited liability, while several Senators introduced legislation to raise the cap 13-fold, to $10 billion. Despite intense pressure to act, Congress ultimately passed very little legislation last year in response to the Deepwater Horizon spill, largely out of concern about further damaging the Gulf region’s economy. Those concerns remain valid.

As the Manufacturers have stated before, any delay in off-shore drilling will have a significant economic impact on manufacturers and other industries throughout the Gulf Coast and the nation.  The nation cannot afford increased job loss, especially during a time when the unemployment rate is as high as 9.4 percent.  Additionally, any further delay will have considerable impact on the domestic oil supply where it will drive up the cost of energy and create uncertainty in oil supply because companies will have to go abroad for drilling.

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