US House Republicans Move To Expand Oil Drilling

WASHINGTON - House Republicans are pushing a plan to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and several other areas currently considered off-limits to energy production, stapling the measures to a massive transportation bill expected to move through the House.

The House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday passed a trio of bills directing the government to allow drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans--where leases aren't currently offered--and open up a chunk of the Arctic refuge to drilling. The bills also pave the way for oil-shale development in western states.

The bills will be attached to a measure endorsed by House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) that authorizes $260 billion over five years to fund federal highway and transit programs. Republicans say the revenue from expanded oil production will help pay for the transportation projects.

The House is likely to approve the package in the near future, marking a win for the oil-and-gas industry that urges greater access to U.S. lands and waters. The fate of the legislation in the Senate is less clear, however, given the Democrats' control of that chamber.

The bills mark the latest attempt by Republicans to draw an election-year distinction from the Obama administration over energy policies. They have said the administration stifles domestic oil production and blocks off federal waters and land known to have oil resources.

Democrats have countered that Republicans are catering to the whims of big oil companies and that their policies pose a threat to areas that have been shielded from energy production for several years.

Among the most-controversial bills approved by the committee Wednesday is a measure that allows drilling on a 3% chunk of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The measure passed by a vote of 29-13.

Rep. Don Young (R), the sole representative from Alaska, long has pushed for oil production in the refuge and said it would be a "foolish mistake" to ignore the oil resources under the refuge.

Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to fight the measure, saying the refuge should be protected from the noise, pollution and environmental impacts that accompany energy production. "If we allow drilling in the Arctic refuge, it would set a precedent that would allow the oil and gas industry to set a bulls eye" on refuges around the country," Rep. Rush Holt (D, N.J.) said.

The committee also passed a bill by a vote of 25-19 compelling the Obama administration to allow drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. A formal moratorium on drilling in the areas was lifted in 2008, however, many state governments continue to oppose oil production off their coasts. The Obama administration maintained a years-long ban on the Atlantic and Pacific when it proposed a five-year plan for offshore-oil drilling late last year.

Republicans have passed multiple pieces of legislation to expedite or expand U.S. oil production, asserting the energy industry is a source of jobs in a weak economy. But the legislation fizzles once it hits the Senate.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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James Irwin | Feb. 4, 2012
Basically our highways need some repairs. Both parties want to spend money. I commute for my business. Interstate 5 in California, the Los Angeles Forest portion is in disgusting shape and dangerous.The other parts of California are crowded and a waste of time to use. Neither political party is functional. The present policy of buying from OPEC is self destructive for the USA. We have transferred our wealth for years to opulent spenders of the middle east. The resulting evil that hates us is self inflicted and not productive. Natural gas transmission, storage, compression and infrastructure is almost in place for the energy industry to do a mega move without Washington DC . We can drill for oil and Natural Gas and the various liquids. We can build safe nuclear power. We can make fuel cell power substations in neighborhoods. We have developed technology and some how created negative mind sets and ridiculous leadership from left over political concepts.

jim mcewen | Feb. 3, 2012
why dont we keep our resourses here instead of letting speculaters hoard it get prices up then sell it at enflated prices to us and shipping our oil overseas

Dallas Schwartz | Feb. 2, 2012
While the vast majority of Americans can see the need for this and support it; POTUS & Congressional Libs are loathe to support any means by which we really unleash the potential of our energy reserves. They believe that the world has run out of oil and we need (insert name of whichever energy source is the flavor of the day) too be the end all to be all. Mr. President I would ask you and Energy Sec. Salazar how those wind mill powered cars are coming along?????? Oil is NOT an evil three letter word!

nt | Feb. 2, 2012
NO DRILLING IN ALASKA OR IN THE COASTAL WATERS! It is not worth the environmental risk...The fracking processess dumping thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the ground will come back to haunt our future generations. The immediate impact of thousands of trucks pouring gravel for roads, and spreading various chemicals to control dust and ice and all of the associated equipment burning millions of gallons of diesel oil that pollutes the air and water will cause untold damage to the eco systems of the now unspoiled environment.

bob | Feb. 2, 2012
I wish every person and state who opposes US energy production would have to actually pay a prorated rate for gasoline if their state votes against such bills. I know its a fantasy but its mine.

Errol Kerr | Feb. 2, 2012
No problem with drilling in any area, providing there is a large amount of experience in the supervisory capacity and the senior drilling personnel. To be clear, the smartest graduate with a petroleum degree is still the dumbest person without some practical experience. With over 40 years experience in the industry and at a very healthy 69 years of age, I do speak from experience. Not many of us old horses left. Need a top line supervisor?

herman | Feb. 1, 2012
This would create many jobs and have an enormous boost for the U.S economy. I hope it passes!

jonathan scott | Feb. 1, 2012
I really dont know what that picture is of but the majority of ANWR IS ABOVE the arrive circle and as everyone knows trees dont grow up there second of all its the flatest most desolate piece of land on earth .

Jim Jirus | Feb. 1, 2012
I think it is about time that Washington did something constructive to create jobs. I have heard that the continenal US, and Alaska, have enough oil reserves to last us a very long time so that we do not have to depend on foreign oil or natural gas. I dont believe that Republicans are catering to the whims of the big oil in that they are supposed to be investing their profits in the development of same. Could be that the Dems are catering to the environmentalists.


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