Fi­nally, a pos­i­tive en­ergy bill

The Covington News - - Opinion - WIL­LIAM PERUG­INO COLUM­NIST Wil­liam Perug­ino is ac­tive in lo­cal and re­gional pol­i­tics and can be reached at 3pe­rug­i­nos@bel­

What with all the ter­ri­ble tragedies hap­pen­ing around the coun­try and the wash of di­vi­sive and neg­a­tive news on all fronts, it is in­deed re­fresh­ing to see that we are mak­ing progress in one area: a good en­ergy bill was pro­posed in the Se­nate that would be­gin to move us for­ward to­wards en­ergy in­de­pen­dence. This is a good but not per­fect bill and goes a long way to mov­ing us off our cur­rent en­ergy pol­icy fail­ure.

Se­na­tor John Ho­even, R– ND, re­cently in­tro­duced the Do­mes­tic En­ergy and Jobs Act, which would greatly ex­pand ac­cess to en­ergy and sim­plify bur­den­some reg­u­la­tions that pre­vent projects from com­ing on­line in a timely man­ner. While the leg­is­la­tion could be im­proved by fur­ther in­creas­ing ac­cess and re­mov­ing the top-down en­ergy plan­ning, DEJA would still spur eco­nomic growth and drive en­ergy pro­duc­tion.

DEJA would ac­cept the State Depart­ment’s en­vi­ron­men­tal re­view of the Key­stone XL pipe­line as suf­fi­cient and al­low the state of Ne­braska to reroute the pipe­line to meet the state’s en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns. The State Depart­ment stud­ied and ad­dressed risks to soil, wet­lands, wa­ter re­sources, veg­e­ta­tion, fish, wildlife and en­dan­gered species and con­cluded that con­struc­tion of the pipe­line would pose min­i­mal en­vi­ron­men­tal risk. The con­struc­tion of Key- stone XL would al­low up to 830,000 bar­rels of oil per day to come from Canada to the Gulf Coast and cre­ate thou­sands of jobs.

DEJA also di­rects the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior to con­duct a lease sale off the coast of Vir­ginia. The 2.9 mil­lion acres 50 miles off the coast has an es­ti­mated 130 mil­lion bar­rels of oil and 1.14 tril­lion cu­bic feet of nat­u­ral gas. Open­ing ac­cess off Vir­ginia’s coast is long over­due, and the leg­is­la­tion only opens up a small por­tion of Amer­ica’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters that are off lim­its.

The Off­shore Pe­tro­leum Ex­pan­sion Now Act of 2012, also co-spon­sored by Se­na­tor Ho­even, would re­place Pres­i­dent Obama’s 2012–2017 Outer Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf Oil and Gas Leas­ing Pro­gram with a much more ro­bust plan that opens ar­eas in the At­lantic and Pa­cific Oceans, in the Gulf of Mex­ico and off Alaska.

Both DEJA and OPEN in­crease the roy­al­ties that states would re­ceive from en­ergy pro­duc­tion, but both could go fur­ther to in­crease state in­volve­ment in off­shore drilling de­ci­sions. Since on­shore states al­ready re­ceive 50 per­cent of the roy­al­ties, Congress should also im­ple­ment a 50/50 roy­alty-shar­ing pro­gram be­tween fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments in­volved in off­shore drilling.

An­other im­por­tant com­po­nent of DEJA is that it stream­lines the per­mit­ting of all en­ergy projects. Re­ceiv­ing a per­mit for any en­ergy project, not just fos­sil fu­els, takes en­tirely too long. Du­plica­tive and un­nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions slow the process and drive up costs. Fur­ther­more, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists de­lay new en­ergy projects by fil­ing end­less ad­min­is­tra­tive ap­peals and law­suits. DEJA would cre­ate a man­age­able time frame for per­mit­ting for all en­ergy sources to in­crease sup­ply at lower costs and stim­u­late eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

DEJA also calls for an end to the lengthy per­mit process in the Nat­u­ral Pe­tro­leum Re­serve area of Alaska. It would re­quire the DOI to ap­prove drilling per­mits within 60 days and in­fra­struc­ture per­mits within six months.

DEJA would also pre­vent the DOI from is­su­ing any rule un­der the Sur­face Min­ing Con­trol and Recla­ma­tion Act of 1977 be­fore 2014 that would ad­versely af­fect coal em­ploy­ment, re­duce rev­enue from coal pro­duc­tion, re­duce coal for do­mes­tic con­sump­tion or ex­port, des­ig­nate ar­eas as un­suit­able for sur­face min­ing and recla­ma­tion, or ex- pose the U.S. to li­a­bil­ity by tak­ing pri­vately owned coal through reg­u­la­tion.

While this tem­po­rary fix rec­og­nizes the fed­eral over­reach in coal pro­duc­tion, a bet­ter ap­proach would be to cre­ate a frame­work that re­stricts over-reg­u­la­tion, em­pow­ers the states, balances eco­nomic growth and en­vi­ron­men­tal well-be­ing and cre­ates a timely per­mit­ting process for all as­pects of coal pro­duc­tion.

Gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions and reg­u­la­tions are sig­nif­i­cantly im­ped­ing the mar­ket’s ef­fec­tive­ness in re­spond­ing to changes in en­ergy prices and mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for sup­pli­ers of all types of en­ergy to pro­duce en­ergy and cre­ate jobs. DEJA would pro­vide Amer­ica with much needed en­ergy sup­ply and a much needed eco­nomic stim­u­lus. How­ever, rather than at­tempt­ing to cre­ate fed­eral en­ergy pro­duc­tion goals, Congress needs to sim­ply re­move the un­nec­es­sary bu­reau­cra­cies that pro­hibit the mar­ket from re­spond­ing to price changes.

Write your se­na­tor and sup­port this bill. A proac­tive and ag­gres­sive en­ergy pol­icy will be a cat­a­lyst for pri­vate in­dus­try and the econ­omy that will ben­e­fit the coun­try and all of us per­son­ally.

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