Democratic News

As part of the debate on the energy speculation bill (S. 3268), Senate Democrats today offered a proposal to “find more and use less” energy – and do it in a way that puts an end to giveaways to profit-rich Big Oil.  In particular, the amendment will:
 
Increase Domestic Supplies in the Near Term. The amendment will expedite the diligent development of federal oil and gas leases, by providing the Secretary of the Interior authority to shorten lease terms, raise rental rates and require companies to comply with benchmarks designed to bring production online faster. In addition, the amendment includes a number of proposals to accelerate leasing in Alaska, the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, and portions of Lease Sale 181 not subject to moratorium—in total, areas estimated to contain 78.5 billion barrels of oil, and almost 450 Tcf of natural gas. That’s enough oil to displace U.S. imports from the Persian Gulf for the next 90 years; and enough natural gas to power nearly every home in America for the next 60 years.
 
Modernize the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The amendment directs the Secretary of Energy to sell 70 million barrels of high-quality light crude oil now held in the SPR within six months of enactment.  The Secretary is also directed to replace the high-quality crude with lower-quality, less expensive, heavy crude oil.  Replacement barrels cannot be purchased until at least one year after enactment.  All of the proceeds generated by the exchange will be used for home heating assistance through the LIHEAP program.
 
Reduce Demand. The amendment will help retool Detroit, provide consumer savings and improve the efficiency of the U.S. economy as a whole. A combination of initiatives will promote demand reduction in the short-term, through public transit, telework and consumer education; spur innovation already on the horizon, through support for advanced vehicles, battery technologies and plug-in hybrids; and, in the long-term, require a renewed commitment to conservation through an American oil savings action plan, with targeted savings of 2.5 million barrels per day in 2016, growing to 10 million barrels per day in 2030.
 
Eliminate Giveaways to Big Oil. While the amendment accelerates leasing, it is also necessary to ensure U.S. taxpayers get a fair share of the value from these public resources.  As such, the amendment will repeal mandatory deep water and deep gas royalty relief for Outer Continental Shelf leases in the Gulf of Mexico, and make it easier for the Department of the Interior to collect accurate amounts from the oil and gas companies drilling on federal lands.  
 
Original co-sponsors are Sens. Bingaman, Reid, Schumer, Salazar, Dorgan, Durbin, Kerry, Stabenow, Whitehouse, Clinton, Murray, Lieberman and Bill Nelson.   
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