“This bill is a package of important provisions that will move our energy and climate policies toward a more sustainable future. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
“One of the highlights of this bill is a provision to require royalty payments from oil and gas leases that currently are exempt from royalties. We are losing millions of dollars on these faulty leases that are allowing oil and gas companies to extract taxpayer-owned resources for free. Putting a stop to this is fiscally unsound public policy is a much-needed step in the right direction.
“With this measure, we will also establish progressive and sensible policies designed to help families and businesses save energy with new efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings.
”This bill puts our priorities back on track in funding new research into renewable fuels, which could be unlimited sources of clean energy if we invest in them properly. This will begin to move us away from the antiquated, dirty sources of energy we use today.
“I praise the inclusion of the Udall-Platt Amendment, which requires electric suppliers to provide 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy resources by the year 2020. I am proudly a co-sponsor of the original legislation which takes substantial measures to transition communities to renewable resources which provide long term benefits to reduce energy costs, provide greater economic development and enhanced energy security.
“I support this bill and plan to vote in favor of it. I am, however, disappointed that several important provisions were removed from the Natural Resources Committee bill, H.R. 2337, as it was being incorporated into this bill. The colleagues who demanded the removal are primarily from big oil producing states whose interest is to move that product for the corporate interests they represent without thought or consideration for the rights of other Western states, communities, ranchers, farmers and the shared public lands of the American people.
“One gentleman in particular represents a vast oil producing district with no real public land, at least 100 hazardous waste sites, numerous former superfund sites, watershed and ground water contamination sites. Perhaps the gentleman feels that is the price of doing the oil industry’s business? I and many others in the West prefer a different scenario—where study, consultation, protection of our public lands, public participation, and cost recovery for the tax payer—are an integral part of doing business.
“As Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, I’ve become concerned about the 2005 Energy Policy Act’s impacts on public lands, private landowners and wildlife in the West.
“The provisions removed from this bill prior to floor consideration would have made very modest improvements to the Energy Policy Act, a bill largely written by and for the fossil fuel industry.
“The first would have simply authorized a study before federal agencies designate energy corridors on federal lands across the entire West. I am deeply concerned that the most recent maps put forth by the agencies identify corridors crossing through National Parks, Wildlife Refuges, Monuments and wilderness areas. Like Dick Cheney’s Energy Taskforce, the initial maps of the draft corridors were drawn at the request of the energy industry, with very little public input. The study would have simply put a better, more thorough process in place by requiring agencies to consider congestion and constraints on the system as well as barriers to access for renewables. My provision would have also required the agencies to avoid places like National Parks when designating corridors.
“The second provision, specifically requested by the Western Governors’ Association, would have required land management agencies to analyze the impacts of oil and gas activities in critical wildlife areas before allowing drilling. I ask unanimous consent that these letters from the Western Governors’ Association be entered into the record.
“Under the 2005 bill, the oil and gas industry is able to conduct drilling and other activities on public lands without first ensuring protection of wildlife and other resources. The original provision would have required agencies to avoid wildlife areas and follow appropriate laws to protect the environment.
“I am disappointed that these modest reforms of the oil and gas industry’s sweetheart package from 2005 were rejected.
“Nevertheless, I support the reform provisions of this bill and I know that there will still be opportunity to address some of the shortcomings of the 2005 Energy bill as we move forward. Because once the public is fully aware of the consequences and immense impacts of the energy corridors designations and categorical exclusion provisions, they will demand action.”