House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04), released the following statement on the Senate’s passage of 16 natural resources bills last night:
“I applaud the Senate’s bipartisan action to pass sixteen bills under the jurisdiction of the House Natural Resources Committee. This is a positive sign that public lands bills important to states and communities across the country can be successfully enacted by the Congress. Ten bipartisan House bills will go to the President to become law, and six Senate bills will arrive here in the House where it’s my hope we can begin work on them this month. As Chairman of the House Committee, I intend to continue ongoing discussions with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol to seek agreement to address additional priorities that protect historic and special places, ensure public access to public lands, resolve local community issues, and facilitate common sense economic development. I’m hopeful the Senate’s action will provide momentum for further legislative progress in the near future.”
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Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) expressed appreciation for the Western Governors’ bipartisan letter. “With the important role that states are playing to help keep species off of the ESA list, I am pleased Western Governors agree that common sense, targeted reforms can improve the ESA while protecting state data and landowners rights. Earlier this year, the House Natural Resources Committee passed four bills intended to do that. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to improve ESA listing data and litigation transparency and other measures to focus resources on actual data and recovery of species, rather than on lawyers.”
Western Caucus Co-Chairman Cynthia Lummis (WY-at large) stated, “I am very pleased that our western governors are adding their voice to the ESA reform effort. The whole point of this reform effort is to find ways to bring the ESA into the 21st century, and enhancing the role of the states is a critical component. States care deeply about conservation and have proven their abilities to understand firsthand the needs of both the species and people. They have led the way on species science, species conservation, and species recovery. It’s high time we recognize the importance of the states in ESA decision-making.”
“Right now, American families and small businesses are feeling the squeeze of high gasoline prices, which are a drain to our entire economy. Since President Obama took office, gasoline prices have doubled and our federal energy resources have been put under tight lock-and-key. The passage of this bipartisan common sense plan is a bold step forward to unlocking America’s energy resources that will create over one million new American jobs, strengthen national security, improve our economy, and help ease the pain at the pump for every American,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).
The Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that works Act will help end the era of four-dollar per gallon gasoline prices by responsibly expanding American energy production. H.R. 4899 would implement a drill-smart, job-creation plan that would require the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources and require the Administration to hold specific offshore lease sales, including off the coast of Virginia, that were delayed or canceled. The bill would increase onshore federal energy production by reforming and streamlining the leasing and permitting process, encouraging the development of U.S. oil shale resources, and expanding production in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A).
For more information, visit http://naturalresources.house.gov/legislation/hr4899
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Mr. Chairman –
Americans are all too familiar with the economic hardships caused by four-dollar gasoline prices. I routinely hear from families in my Central Washington district whose budgets are already being stretched thin and can’t afford the rising prices at the pump. Commuting to work, running the kids to after school activities, and putting food on the table are all becoming increasingly difficult to afford.
The pain is not only being felt during our trips to the gas station - high gasoline prices are a drain on our entire economy. That means that school districts juggle to operate bus routes, that cities grapple with the cost of sending police cars on patrol, and that businesses adjust budgets that can affect the hiring of new employees.
The good news is that four-dollar gasoline doesn’t have to be our reality. The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of oil and natural gas resources that can lower energy prices and grow our economy. H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act, is common sense legislation to responsibly harness the American energy resources we have right here at home.
The Obama Administration has spent the last five and a half years placing our energy resources on federal lands and waters under tight lock-and-key. Offshore areas have been placed off-limits, scheduled exploration off Virginia was canceled, and over half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) has been closed to energy production. That’s why it’s no surprise that since President Obama took office, total federal oil production has dropped six percent and total natural gas production has dropped 28 percent. Meanwhile, gasoline prices have doubled during Obama’s presidency.
H.R. 4899 would reverse this trend and unlock our American energy. The bill would implement a drill-smart plan that would expand offshore energy production and safely open new areas that contain the most oil and natural gas resources – such as the Mid-Atlantic, Southern Pacific, and Arctic. It would require the Secretary to conduct specific oil and natural gas lease sales, including offshore Virginia that was delayed and then canceled by the Obama Administration. The bill would also establish fair and equitable revenue sharing for all coastal states and improve safety by reorganizing the Interior Department’s offshore energy agencies.
In addition to increased offshore energy production, the bill would also help expand onshore oil and natural gas production on federal lands. It would reform the leasing and streamline the permitting process, encourage the development of U.S. oil shale resources, expand production in the NPR-A, and much more.
While these policies will help lower gasoline prices, it will also create over 1.2 million new American jobs and generate over 1.7 billion in new revenue. This bill is a win for our economy and a win for jobs.
It’s also important for our national security. The current turmoil in Iraq has already caused the price of gasoline to increase and serves as an important reminder of why we need to increase production here at home. The best way to protect ourselves from price spikes caused by international conflicts is to increase production of American energy resources.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, the recent energy boom here in the U.S. is ‘putting slack in the global oil market.’ A senior petroleum analyst noted regarding the recent conflict in Iraq, ‘If this were 2005 we would have seen a 20-30 cent jump in gas prices. But it’s lower today because domestic energy production is so much higher.’
However, all the increase in U.S. energy production is happening on state and private lands. As I previously noted, oil and natural gas production on federals lands has declined under President Obama. We can and should be doing so much more when it comes to American produced energy. And doing so will further strengthen our energy security and reduce our reliance on OPEC.
Finally, we need to take action now because the Obama Administration just announced the start of work on the next five-year offshore drilling plan. With this bill, Congress can advance a responsible plan for developing America’s resources. The President’s current plan closes over 85 percent of offshore areas to energy production and includes the lowest number of lease sales ever offered in a five-year plan. The Administration’s restrictive policies should not continue for another five years. That’s why there needs to be a new plan, as outlined in our bill, that opens new areas and helps put a million more Americans back to work.
H.R. 4489 will ease the pain at the pump for American families and small businesses and eliminate federal government hurdles that keep American energy locked-up. It’s good for our economy, good for jobs, and strengthens our national security. I urge my colleagues to support this common sense bill and reserve the balance of my time.
Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing entitled “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Education.” This hearing examined the new job opportunities that the American energy boom has created and how America’s educational institutions are creating a skilled and educated workforce that’s crucial to the continued growth of the energy sector.
Since 2003, America’s increase in energy production has added more than 400,000 direct energy jobs to the U.S. economy and millions more indirect jobs. This rise in energy production is only occurring on state and private lands while energy production is rapidly decreasing on federal lands. This underscores the need for important legislation like H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act. This common sense legislation will ensure that this growth in energy production continues well into the future on federal, state, and private lands. This would only heighten the need for more educational programs to prepare the next generation of students to meet growing workforce needs in the energy sector.
“This boom in energy development is generating a demand for skilled workers in a broad array of economic sectors, which poses both opportunities and challenges for policymakers, businesses and job seekers. Simply looking at the employment needs in energy producing states shows that these jobs, in oil and gas specifically, are plentiful and skilled workers are in demand,” said Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (CO-05). “Universities and community colleges are working hand in hand with the energy industry to tailor their programs to the needs of the industry. This not only includes creating and reinforcing the requisite educational programs, but offering students internship and apprentice opportunities in the industry and bringing in highly qualified industry professionals to teach students the skills needed to succeed in the industry.”
Witnesses at the hearing shared their personal accounts of how educational institutions are meeting this increased demand for skilled labor and how this surge in American energy production is creating well-paying jobs for this growing workforce.
Mark Volk is President of Lackawanna College, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the center of energy production in the Marcellus Shale where the unemployment rate in the area is “one of the lowest in the Commonwealth at just 5.4% - down from 8.2% in 2009.” When the development of the Marcellus Shale started, Lackawanna College “identified the technical human resource needs of the oil and natural gas industry – and began to position the school to take a leadership position in educating future workers according to those needs.” Since then, “Lackawanna College today is placing students at a near 100% rate within the industry in positions paying well above salaries typically seen in our region.” Students completing these programs are entering a workforce where average annual wages are just over $80,000 in Pennsylvania.
Duane Hrncir, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, Utah, echoed the need for these programs and the growth of students who are enrolling saying “enrollment is growing at about 5% spurred largely by our reputation for providing strong technical skills with leadership opportunities.” Hrncir touted the school’s “98% placement rate” for graduates and how it is “one of the top ten schools in the country for return on investment for a college education” when the “average starting salary of our baccalaureate graduates is over $62,000” – well above the national average. Underscoring the need for institutions like the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Hrncir added, “through research and teaching, universities like the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology are advancing knowledge and preparing leaders in science and engineering for American industry, including the booming energy industry that surrounds the upper mid-west.”
Matthew M. Kropf, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Petroleum Technology and Energy Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, called education “the single factor responsible for enabling the current energy boom” adding that there is a “significant need for skilled oil and gas workers to replace an aging workforce.” In order to meet the demands of a growing energy industry, Kropf told the Subcommittee that the University of Pittsburgh has “updated the curriculum to include courses pertinent to today’s energy field, namely advanced drilling and completions technologies and geology of sedimentary shale basins.” Kropf agreed with other witnesses that “the current energy boom has created significant educational opportunities in both the short and long term.”
Seth N. Lyman, Ph.D.,Director of the Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center at Utah State University, added that the “recent growth in oil and natural gas production has created unique challenges and opportunities for the institutions of higher education that serve our region.” Recognizing the community’s recent increase in the demand for higher education and oil and gas development, Utah State University now offers “38 degrees to more than 1,000 students who attend the Uintah Basin Campus” while adding “specific training programs to further support the oil and gas industry: petroleum engineering, safety, and well-control, to name a few” at the Uintah Basin Applied Technical College.
Marlene S. McMichael, CPM, is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Government Affairs at Texas State Technical College (TSTC). McMichael highlighted how TSTC has the “will and the capacity to train students to fill the growing demand for skilled workers.” The energy industry plays a significant role in Texas’ economy. McMichael added that “Texas has been a leader in the energy sector; however, recent growth in that sector has been exponential. That means skilled workers from all backgrounds will have access to a wide array of jobs. TSTC’s partnerships with industry ensure that students graduate with job-ready skills which match or exceed industry standards.”
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The proposed “Waters of the U.S.” regulation and the U.S. Forest Service’s Groundwater Directive are additional measures proposed by the Obama Administration that many believe are land and water grabs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service) and Bureau of Reclamation refused the Committee’s invitation to send witnesses to testify and answer questions regarding the proposed regulations. At the beginning of today's hearing, the House and Senate Western Caucus and Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock released a letter from House Members and Senators across the country urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw the Groundwater Directive.
“I believe that these proposals open a new chapter in executive agencies running amok – seizing powers by their own edicts that have been specifically denied them by the legislation that created them in the first place,” said Subcommittee on Water and Power Chairman Tom McClintock (CA-04). “They fundamentally alter the relationship between the legislative and executive branches and the relationship between the states and the federal government - all in a manner wholly antithetical to the structure and construct of our system of check and balances and of the sworn duty of every official to abide by the laws and Constitution.”
“We can foster water development for people and species if the federal government chooses not to erect hurdles to new projects. Yet, the two proposals in front of us – the EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ and the Forest Service’s new ‘Groundwater Directive’ do nothing more than make it more difficult to rehabilitate or build new projects that benefit agriculture, municipalities, species and habitat,” said House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).
Witnesses at the hearing testified on the impacts of the proposed Obama Administration regulations, including higher food, water, and electricity costs, undermining of states’ rights; and current and future water supply infrastructure.
Mr. Patrick Tyrrell, State Engineer, State of Wyoming, testified how the Forest Service’s Groundwater Directive will fundamentally change federal water management and harm states’ rights. “It changes the Forest Service's national policy on water management and challenges Wyoming’s authority over groundwater within our borders, including Wyoming’s primacy in appropriation, allocation and development of groundwater. The USFS states that this Proposed Directive does not harm State rights. This is not accurate. The assumptions, definitions, and new permitting considerations contemplated under the Proposed Directive materially interfere with Wyoming’s authority over surface and groundwater, and will negatively impact the State’s water users.”
Mr. Larry Martin, National Water Resources Association, testified that the Waters of the U.S. rule will create new federal permitting schemes. "Many geologic and man-made water related features common to the arid West, including ditches, dry arroyos, washes, and ephemeral streams that flow only in response to agricultural return flows or infrequent storm events will now become subject to federal jurisdiction and permitting.
Mr. Randy Parker, Chief Executive Officer, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, discussed the impacts of the proposed regulations on the agriculture and food production. “The pervasive culture and attitude of the leaders and employees of the United States Forest Service has become even more confrontational during the Obama Administration. They are seeking to exercise greater control over the System lands that includes reductions in grazing rights, controlling water and challenging access. These detrimental actions are seemingly without regard for the history, culture and economics as required by federal laws including the Federal Land Policy Management Act.”
Mr. Rodger Clark, Director, Engineering and Operations, Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc, demonstrated that the Waters of the U.S. rule could increase permitting costs to ratepayers from the proposed regulations. “We are concerned that under the proposed rule, transmission rights of way may be considered waters of the U.S. Transmission rights of way are often simple ditches alongside roads. These ditches receive road runoff, which could grow cattails even though they infrequently hold water. EPA and the Corps have said that they are exempting ditches that drain only upland and are constructed in uplands, but the term “upland” is not defined. This gives the federal government the final say on whether or not ditches are eligible for the exemption.”
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Wall Street Journal
June 17, 2014
The latest spasm of violence in the Middle East has sent crude-oil prices climbing in recent weeks, a familiar action-reaction that frequently has proved to be a drag on economic growth.
Yet that dynamic figures to ease in coming months and years as U.S. dependence on Mideast oil is, by a variety of measures, at a generational nadir.
In the current flare-up of unrest, Islamist militants have swept across northern Iraq, threatening Baghdad and spurring fears that violence could disrupt the country's 2.7 million barrels a day in exports. Amid this, the U.S. crude-oil benchmark on the New York Mercantile Exchange has climbed to around $107 a barrel, the highest level since September.
The oil-price instability has been playing out broadly since late 2010, when a string of popular political revolutions across the Middle East drove up the price of crude to $113 a barrel from $85 over five months.
Much has changed since the so-called Arab Spring to alter the U.S. energy picture. Advanced technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have boosted U.S. crude-oil production by 47% since late 2010. Domestic U.S. oil production in October surpassed imports for the first time in nearly two decades, putting slack into the global oil market and making more crude available at lower prices to countries like China and India.
Canada, too, has made great gains in oil production, so that the U.S. now imports about as much oil from its northern neighbor as from all of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, meaning that the Middle East's importance to the U.S. energy supply has shrunk.
Better fuel economy has also left many consumers less sensitive to oil prices. For model year 2013, vehicles had average mileage of 24 miles a gallon, up 6% from 2010 and 22% from a decade ago.
"The U.S. is less vulnerable to oil shocks," said Brian Levitt, senior economist at OppenheimerFunds. "Over time, there's going to be less and less vulnerability to events in the Middle East."
That's not to say the U.S. is invulnerable. The nation still imports more than 7 million barrels a day of crude oil, and for many Americans, the amount of gasoline they consume is largely determined by the length of their commute. Higher gas prices—now at a national average of $3.69 a gallon, up 11% since the start of the year, according to the Energy Information Administration—can take a bite from consumer spending elsewhere.
An increase of just $10 a barrel in the price of oil over three months would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by about 0.2 percentage point, according to Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.
According to new numbers released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), total sales of fossil fuels from energy production on federal and Indian lands decreased by 7 percent last year. This is latest example of how the Obama Administration continues to block American energy production on federal lands and waters.
“American families cannot afford four-dollar gasoline prices, but instead of increasing access to our own energy resources right here at home, President Obama is placing them off-limits. The Obama Administration is restricting American energy production wherever and whenever possible and these new numbers from EIA are further proof of that. President Obama has imposed a defacto drilling moratorium on new offshore drilling, canceled both onshore and offshore lease sales, and imposed layer upon layer of red-tape to make it harder to develop our energy resources,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Hastings. “In order to create an America that works, we need access to affordable and reliable energy. That’s why next week the House will consider H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act. This common sense legislation will remove Obama Administration’s roadblocks to American energy production on federal lands and say ‘YES’ to over a million more American jobs, lower gasoline prices, and American energy security.”
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“Hardworking American families are already being forced to stretch their paycheck further and further each month and they cannot afford four-dollar gasoline prices. As we head into the summer driving season, it’s time for Congress and the President to act before it gets worse,” said Chairman Hastings. “In order for America to prosper, we need access to reliable and affordable energy. The best way to create jobs and help address rising prices is to develop the American energy resources we have right here at home. From offshore to federal lands onshore, America has the oil and natural gas resources necessary to make us a world leader in energy production, isolate ourselves from volatile price spikes, and free ourselves from the grip of OPEC. By unlocking our Nation’s own resources we can put over a million Americans back to work, breathe new life into our economy, and lower gasoline prices for American families and businesses.”
The Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act is a common sense action plan to remove Obama Administration roadblocks to harness our American energy resources. Specifically the bill:
BACKGROUND - Impacts of Obama Administration Energy Roadblocks:
Cabin owners have recently been faced with arbitrary, skyrocketing fees as a result of a faulty appraisal system that has allowed annual cabin fees to increase exponentially. Unable to afford the mounting fees, owners are faced with the choice of selling their cabins or abandoning and tearing them down. The bill would establish a simple, predictable fee-setting system under which cabin lots are assigned a place on a six tiered fee structure based on current appraisal.
“The Cabin Fee Act will establish a simple, predictable fee-setting system based on a tiered structure. And because future fee increases will be automatic and tied to inflation, it will eliminate the Forest Service’s costly administrative burden of constant appraisals and appeals. I am told that many cabin owners are already falling behind in their payments, so passage of this bill is an urgent matter,” said House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04).
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