“There is no industry better suited to spur production than the energy industry,” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) said at the U.S. Capitol. “We’re talking thousands of jobs.”
The premise of each proposal is that the federal government acts as an overprotective and dim-witted nanny toward energy companies, failing to appreciate their capacity for growth on federal lands. “(W)hile the president is pre-occupied with telling Americans what he won’t do on energy, the economy, and jobs, House Republicans are showing what we can do,” the House Republicans’ “energy action team” said in their statement.
Gardner’s proposal links a decrease in the nation’s crude oil emergency fund to an increase in the percentage of federal land leased for oil and gas exploration. If the President releases oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, he would be required to develop a plan to lease more federal lands for exploration and production.
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) proposes requiring the Secretary of Interior to establish goals for federal land energy production from all energy sources, including oil, natural gas, coal, and renewable. Echoing one of President Obama’s signature phrases, Tipton said the proposal was a “true all-of-the-above strategy.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Lone Tree), like Gardner, would seek to expand the amount of public land leased for energy development. His proposal would direct the federal government to make available at least one-quarter of the federal lands open for leasing for which companies are interested in developing.
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) proposes to streamline and reform the federal process for energy permits on federal lands once a lease is in hand.
Democrats have criticized several of the proposals. At an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in late March, Obama’s Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey said oil companies hold thousands of approved permits on federal lands but fail to drill on them.
None of the four legislative proposals are new. The four Republicans initially emphasized that each proposal would reduce gas prices, now they are touting the proposals’ purported job creation benefits.
Nathan L. Gonzalez, deputy political editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, said the shift in emphasis as well as the repacking of the proposals reflects Republicans’ larger political strategy. “Overall, Republicans are trying to put out proposals of their own in order to get tagged as the “party of no.’ That’s a key Democrat attack, that Republicans are obstructionists,” he said.
A House GOP aide said Colorado lawmakers expect the House of Representatives to vote on their proposals later this month.