The U.S. House of Representatives approved a package of proposals yesterday [September 16] designed to convince voters it is addressing energy production shortfalls and high recent energy prices.
The proposals, which face an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate, would continue a ban on oil exploration and development within 100 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, with the exception that exploration and development can occur outside of 50 miles from the coast if both the governor and legislature of the affected state approve.
Federal studies have shown more than 85 percent of known offshore oil reserves reside within the 50-mile zone that would remain under a moratorium. The House plan would not allow any sharing of royalties with the states, which would discourage states from approving oil exploration and production 50 to 100 miles from their coasts.
Also, rather than returning royalty money to energy consumers, the House plan would give the money to the renewable power industry to subsidize research.
Experts contacted by The Heartland Institute were unimpressed by the plan. Their comments below may be quoted;
"Telling energy producers that they cannot produce oil where federal experts know the vast majority of our oil reserves reside is like telling a person who lost his keys at the movie theater that he can look for them only at the bank across town.
"We need less politicking and more sincere action to increase domestic energy production. An offshore energy bill that continues to ban energy production where more than 85 percent of our energy reserves reside is not an energy bill at all, but merely a poorly executed head fake.
"Making matters worse, a proposal to give the royalties to the renewable power industry rather than returning them to citizens of the affected states is egregious corporate welfare that accomplishes little more than robbing Peter to pay Paul."
James M. Taylor Senior Fellow, Environment Policy The Heartland Institute
"Americans deserve better from Congress than this. The public wants Congress to allow drilling here and now--a clean drilling bill that would simply rescind the present moratorium. In response, the Pelosi plan to offer bills with all sorts of preconditions--such as limiting the areas where drilling can take place to areas off selected states and forcing states to use renewable energy even where it doesn't make sense--would raise prices to consumers and make present oil leases offshore more costly to develop.
"In the end, the bills being proposed are not meant to actually allow new domestic production (which is one of the few ways to increase supplies and reduce prices at the pump), but rather are brazen political showpieces, all flash with no substance. The idea is to appear to be doing something while in reality doing nothing that would raise the hackles of big green environmental lobbyists who have co-opted the majority party's leadership on energy issues.
"While Congress claims they want to help consumers by lowering prices at the pump and securing our energy independence, this bill will not help much in either regard."
Sterling Burnett Senior Fellow National Center for Policy Analysis
"Not allowing the states to share royalties from offshore drilling near their shorelines could very well constitute an infringement of their authority and rights as described under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"Local and state economies are struggling under the high costs of transportation and electricity. Speaker Pelosi is yet again restricting economic growth and financial freedom through her energy policies at a time when the United States is facing its worst financial crisis in decades. Is she so blinded by the environmental interest groups inside the beltway that she cannot see the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet?"
Alexandra Bourne Vice President, Policy and Strategic Development The Heartland Institute