The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, H.R. 4480, with bipartisan support by a vote of 248 to 163 on June 21, 2012. This important energy and jobs package, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), includes key measures advanced by the Energy and Commerce Committee to increase American energy supplies and cut through regulatory red tape that could drive up gasoline prices. The bill also includes several legislative proposals from the Natural Resources Committee designed to help create jobs by removing barriers to domestic energy production.
Title I of the bill, the Strategic Energy and Production Act, was authored by Rep. Gardner to promote long-term supply solutions over short-term political gimmicks. The bill dictates that the president cannot tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve without taking steps to open more public lands to energy development. Congress created the SPR after the 1970’s Arab oil embargo to mitigate major supply disruptions. The reserve is intended for national security emergencies, major supply shutdowns, and natural disasters – not shortsighted political expediency.
The Strategic Energy Production Act requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production after the next SPR sale. Currently only three percent of federal land is leased for oil and gas development. The increase in the percentage of federal lands leased would be commensurate with the percentage that was drawn down from the SPR. The lands available for leasing would be among the vast 2.4 billion acres of government lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, and Department of Defense.
Title II of the bill, the Gasoline Regulations Act, was authored by Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) to achieve a better understanding of the impact of EPA’s policies on gas prices, jobs, and the economy. It asks regulators to look before leaping when it comes to regulations affecting gas prices.
The Gasoline Regulations Act requires an interagency committee to study how certain EPA regulations will affect American businesses and consumers and puts a pause on three of EPA’s most costly rules – Tier 3 standards, NSPS standards for petroleum refineries, and new ozone standards – until after the study is completed and policymakers have time to assess the consequences.
The Domestic Energy and Jobs Act also includes the Planning for American Energy Act, the Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act, the Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act, the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act, and the BLM Live Internet Auctions Act.