Same story, different day: Lamborn, Tipton offer-up tired package of oil and gas company giveaways

House Republicans paraded out their latest series of giveaways to the billion-dollar oil and gas industry today in a subcommittee chaired by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). The bills would increase corporate welfare and a total disregard for western families and the economic health of local communities.

These reckless proposals put forth by Reps. Lamborn, Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Doc Hastings (R-WA) have failed over and over again in Congress because Americans want more out of their representatives than messaging bills for the oil and gas industry. At a time when oil and gas companies are already getting fat on the taxpayers’ dime, it’s appalling that politicians are dishing up yet another industry smorgasbord with zero regard for Western families’ safety and security.

Westerners want a real balance between protecting public lands and energy development. That balance is critical for attracting high-wage businesses and maintaining the billion-dollar outdoor recreation economy in the West.

The three tired bills paraded out yet again today include extreme measures that create quotas and mandates on behalf of oil and gas companies, and encourage risky speculation on publicly owned lands. These reckless proposals would sacrifice our drinking water, air quality, and public lands just to create more handouts that would do nothing to address our energy concerns.

These reckless measures run counter to western values and what’s best for local economies. Recent polling found that 9 out of 10 Westerners agree that national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife areas are an essential part of the economy, while 74% believe that national parks, forests, and monuments, help to attract high quality employers and good jobs to their state.

The outdoor recreation industry alone accounts for $646 billion in annual spending, 6 million jobs and nearly $80 billion in local, state and federal taxes.

Yet, House Republicans continue to push these same reckless proposals, regardless of the potentially devastating impacts to western families and economies – in order to provide more handouts to the billion dollar oil and gas industry which is already hoarding millions of acres of public lands, billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies and is focused on drilling on non-federal lands, where the best and most profitable oil resources are located.

Reps Lamborn, Tipton and Hastings, need to be held accountable for blatant disregard of taxpayer money and their continued attempts to increase corporate welfare for oil and gas companies.

Key provisions from the legislation considered today:

Rep. Lamborn’s bill (HR 1965) would:

  • Block the public from participating in oil and gas leasing decisions by creating “entrance fees” of up to $5,000 to join the conversation.
  • Mandate leasing and encourage costly oil shale speculation that has a century-long track record of failure despite billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.
  • Roll back the Obama Administration’s common sense approach to the failed “rock that burns,” oil shale, which would put already scarce western water at risk.

Rep. Tipton’s bill (HR 1394) would:

  • Establish energy development – especially fossil fuels – as the primary use of public lands, jeopardizing the billion-dollar outdoor recreation and tourism industries and the thousands of western jobs that they create.
  • Require the Department of Interior to prioritize oil, gas and coal over renewable energy development.

Rep. Hastings bill (HR 1964) would:

  • Fast track approval of drilling permits, roads and pipelines in the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A) in Alaska, regardless of potential environmental impacts.
  • Eliminate the “integrated activity plan” for NPR-A that balances energy development with protection of wildlife habitat and other critical areas.

Big Oil politicians to ignore facts: U.S. oil production higher under Obama than when Bush left office

by Matt Garrington

On Wednesday, Rep. Doc Hastings led a full oversight hearing focused on President Obama’s now-lifted Gulf of Mexico moratorium to examine “lingering impacts on jobs, energy production and local economies.” Meanwhile, Hastings continues to waste taxpayer money on oversight hearings for problems that don’t exist. Domestic oil production and energy jobs are actually higher now under Obama than when Bush left office. In fact, oil and gas companies are worried about a skilled labor shortage to handle all the new jobs.

The hearing yesterday is just another pay-to-play hearing from Hastings where he uses taxpayer money to give air time to his Big Oil campaign contributors.

Key facts ignored during the hearing:

  • Domestic crude oil production is higher now under President Obama than when President Bush left office (see figure below).
  • Oil and gas activity is back to pre-recession levels and actually nearing a 20-year high. In fact, there are more active drill rigs in the United States than all other countries combined.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that energy jobs are at a 20-year high and that industry is actually worried about a shortage of skilled workers.
  • On April 20, 2011, ATP Oil & Gas CFO Al Reese who is testifying at today’s hearing contributed $1,000 to Rep. Hastings re-election campaign.

Chart data from the Energy Information Administration

A few facts about July 4th gas prices and energy development

American families will be heading to the beaches, barbecues and national parks this weekend to celebrate the birth of our nation. Unfortunately, more families will likely be sticking closer to home due to lingering high gas prices. Meanwhile Big Oil will celebrate the close of another quarter of billion-dollar profits.

Second quarter profits won’t be released for a couple of weeks, but all indicators say it’s been another banner quarter for Big Oil. They and their politician friends in Washington have continued to work together to blame everyone else for high gas prices. Even when President Obama had to release 30 million barrels from the strategic petroleum reserve last week, Congressman Doc Hastings still refused to call on Big Oil CEOs to use all the permits and lands that belong to them and are standing idle. Instead, Hastings lobbied on behalf of his Big Oil bosses to secure more government handouts.

Here are a few facts Big Oil and politicians like Hastings don’t want Americans to know when they go to gas up their cars this weekend:

  1. The number of active drill rigs in the country has nearly returned to pre-recession levels. Non-partisan Headwaters Economics reports that in May 2011, the number of active rigs was 1,847, less than 200 fewer rigs than were operating in September 2008, at the end of George W. Bush’s term in office.
  1. Big Oil is crying for more government handouts while thousands of drilling permits sit idle. Oil and gas companies haven’t developed nearly 7,200 onshore oil and gas permits where they have a green light to drill. The same goes for 57 percent of their existing onshore leases, nationally.
  1. Big Oil has even more permits coming. According to the Department of the Interior, onshore drilling permits are expected to increase over 40% in 2011. So how many permits will litter taxpayer land one year from now, when oil companies’ CEOs are still whining they need more acres and permits to impress shareholders?
  1. The U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum products. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S.’s petroleum imports have actually decreased over the last few years. In November and December of 2010 and in February and March of 2011, we actually exported more petroleum products than we imported. The same is true for natural gas where producers are eyeing new markets and looking to ship American natural gas to overseas. The Energy Department recently approved a new export facility in Louisiana.
  1. American taxpayers are paying Big Oil at the pump and on tax day. Big Oil politicians like Doc Hastings and Doug Lamborn voted in May to protect the $18 billion in corporate welfare companies like Exxon and BP will receive over the next 10 years.

THE BALANCE SHEET: APRIL 18 2011

Our weekly update to unravel the industry and political spin around the energy debate


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

2010 ONSHORE OIL SPILLS EXXON VALDEZ x3
Last Tuesday, CBS News reported that there were over 6,500 spills, leaks, fires or explosions nationwide at onshore drill sites or pipelines. And, at least 34 million gallons of oil or toxic chemicals were spilled – that’s three times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. Read the story for state-by-state oil spill numbers.

WHAT OIL SPILL?
Rep. Doc Hastings would have you forget about the Gulf spill, even as the 1-year anniversary of the accident nears. Leading into the hearing, Hastings told Politico that it was too soon to consider offshore drilling safety legislation but not too soon to speed-up offshore drilling. Why the rush when drilling companies are sitting on 70 percent of offshore leases as well as 57% of onshore leases and over 7,200 onshore drilling permits.

HISTORY FULL OF GAS
During the Natural Resources committee markup of the offshore bills, Hastings claimed that ending the moratorium on drilling in 2008 was the reason for a drop in gas prices. He seems to have forgotten the worldwide economic recession where oil demand crashed and the price of a barrel of oil plummeted 60 percent. At that same hearing, House Republicans shot down an amendment by Ranking Member Markey to end taxpayer-funded subsidies to Big Oil.

DID YOU KNOW?

OIL SHALE IS AS ENERGETIC AS A POTATO
Oil shale, the “rock that burns,” contains one-tenth the energy of crude oil and has the same energy density as a potato. Read more in energy expert Randy Udall’s piece “The Illusive Bonanza.”

COMING UP THIS WEEK

OUR 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH DISASTER
April 20th, 2011 marks the one year anniversary of the BP Gulf oil disaster, but it looks like offshore drilling safety legislation and reforms to stop $4 billion-a-year subsidies to Big Oil won’t be going anywhere this month.

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