H.R. 2021: Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011

H.R. 2021

Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011

Date
June 22, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, June 22, 2011, the House will consider H.R. 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, under a rule.  The rule for consideration of H.R. 2021 (H.Res. 316) provides for one hour of general debate, equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The rule makes in order 10 amendments and provides for one motion to recommit with or without instructions.     

The bill was introduced by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) on May 26, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.  The Committee held a mark-up on June 2, 2011 and reported the bill by a vote of 34-14.  

Bill Summary

H.R. 2021 would eliminate needless permitting delays that have stalled important energy production opportunities off the coast of Alaska.  To do so, H.R. 2021 would make three technical clarifications to the Clean Air Act:

  1. The bill would specify that any drilling vessel must be considered a stationary source, and regulated as such, once drilling commences.  This provision would eliminate uncertainly about which rules apply and when in the energy exploration and development process.

  2. H.R. 2021 would clarify that service ships are not regulated as stationary sources simply because they supply or service Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) sources.  Currently, service ships, like delivery trucks servicing factories on land, are regulated under the Clean Air Act as mobile sources.

  3. The bill would specify that air emission impacts are to be measures onshore.  This is consistent with the emissions measurements that apply to facilities on land, measuring emissions at the point where they could affect the public, whether at the shoreline or on the fence line.

The bill would also eliminate the permitting back-and-forth that occurs between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Environmental Appeals Board.  Rather than having exploration air permits repeatedly approved and rescinded by the agency and its review board, the EPA will be required to take final action – granting or denying a permit – within six months.  All appeals will go to the D.C. Circuit Court for resolution because of the national implications of oil production on the Outer Continental Shelf and the need for consistency in decision-making.

Background

This year, through the American Energy Initiative, the House of Representatives is pursuing a series of sensible energy reforms designed to increase the production of American-made energy, which will bring down costs, create jobs, and make America more secure and energy independent.

According to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act would eliminate the uncertainty and confusion under the Clean Air Act that has delayed – sometimes for years – oil exploration in the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf.  The bill would apply to other offshore areas as well.  While the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office has granted some air permits to allow offshore drilling, the process has repeatedly been stalled due to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board.  The Appeals Board consistently rejects permits already granted by the EPA. This prevents final agency action, which leaves energy production in a perpetual state of limbo.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting the bill would have no significant impact on the federal budget.  Furthermore, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply because the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Amendments

Under the rule, the following 10 amendments are made in order.  Each amendment is debatable for ten minutes.

Amendment No. 1—Rep. Speier (D-CA):  The amendment would strike section 2 of the underlying bill, which would require that air emission impacts be measures onshore. 

Amendment No. 2—Rep. Hastings (D-FL):  The amendment would direct emission sources from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to title I of the Clean Air Act, requiring all OCS offshore vessels be regulated.

Amendment No. 3—Rep. Welch (D-VT):  The amendment would require all permit applications to include data on federal oil subsidies received by the company applying for the permit.

Amendment No. 4—Rep. Keating (D-MA): The amendment would require that all completed applications include data on bonuses provided to the executives of the applicant from the most recent quarter.

Amendment No. 5—Rep. Rush (D-IL):  The amendment would allow the Administrator to provide additional 30-day extensions if the Administrator determines that such time is necessary to meet the requirements of this section, to provide adequate time for public participation, or to ensure sufficient involvement by one or more affected States.

Amendment No. 6—Rep. Quigley (D-IL):  The amendment would strike text in the underlying bill that would eliminate the ability of the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) to remand or deny the issuance of Clean Air Act permits for offshore energy exploration and extraction.

Amendment No. 7—Rep. Eshoo (D-CA):  The amendment would strike a provision in the underlying bill that would require permit decisions to be litigated in the DC Circuit in Washington D.C.

Amendment No. 8—Reps. Capps (D-CA), Carney (D-DE), Castor (D-FL):  The amendment would preserve state authority over OCS sources so that states with more stringent standards, limitations, or requirements can be enforced. 

Amendment No. 9—Rep. Hochul (D-NY):  The amendment would require a report to Congress that would detail how the amendments made by this Act are projected to increase oil and gas production and lower energy prices for consumers.

Amendment No. 10—Reps. Schrader (D-OR), DeFazio (D-OR), Wu (D-OR):  The amendment would prohibit any permits issued under the Clean Air Act for oil or natural gas drilling on the OCS off the coast of Oregon.