Full Steam Ahead for US Energy

The US House approved a sweeping energy legislative package that supporters said would facilitate development of more domestic oil and gas, and its sponsor, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), urged the US Senate to take it up promptly.

"These bipartisan pieces of legislation make sure that we move forward on oil and gas development in the western United States and on federal lands," Gardner said.

The package of seven bills would require the US Department of Energy secretary to develop a plan for more leasing on federal land; streamline the federal drilling permit process; direct the US Interior secretary, when conducting lease sales, to offer previously unavailable acreage as at least 25% of the annually nominated total; and to require analysis of impacts from certain US Environmental Protection Agency rules and actions on gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas prices.

Other bills in the package would require the US Interior and Agriculture secretaries to prepare a new federal onshore energy production strategy every 4 years to guide leasing plans; the Interior secretary to hold at least one lease sale/year within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and establish a timeline for promptly considering necessary permits; and authorize the Interior secretary to hold oil and gas lease sales through Internet-based methods.

Oil and gas industry groups applauded the House's approval of the bills.

"Greater access to domestic energy resources, combined with smarter policies that boost our refining industry, will benefit consumers in the long run," said American Petroleum Institute Executive Vice-Pres. Marty Durbin. "More homegrown energy is good for all Americans."