Green introduces balanced proposal to address America's long-term energy needs
July 31, 2008
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), leader of an informal group of Democrats representing energy-producing districts, unveiled a plan last night to help address the energy challenges facing our nation that have made everything from gas to groceries more expensive across the country.
Green said his plan is designed to garner broader support than some recent proposals. An impressive 15 Democratic members of Congress have signed on as original cosponsors of the bill, including: Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), Travis Childers (D-Miss.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas), Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas), Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Bud Cramer (D-Ala.), Don Cazayoux (D-La.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Nick Lampson (D-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Charlie Melancon (D-La.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.).
“No solution will bring down energy costs overnight, but we need all options on the table to meet our energy needs,” Green said. “We all know something needs to be done, and I believe both Democrats and Republicans will be able to agree on the sensible provisions in this bill.”
The “Long-term Energy Assurance and Security Enhancement Act of 2008” or “LEASE Act” includes provisions that would: allow environmentally responsible oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico; permit states the option to develop resources closer to their shores; modernize the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve and allow release of oil onto the market; help curb energy speculation that may drive up prices; and establish a fund for alternative energy development, conservation, and public transportation programs .
“This plan offers serious solutions to our serious problems,” Green said. “We need to be less dependent on foreign oil and develop America’s conventional and renewable resources. Developing the alternative energy sources of the future is essential, but in the meantime we must expand production of the domestic resources we already have.”
The bill is composed of three major sections. The first section allows drilling in certain areas of the Gulf of Mexico and removes the federal moratorium on leasing in federal waters more than 100 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
However, the federal moratorium on areas between 25 and 100 miles from the coast would remain in effect unless the governor of a coastal state made a special request to the Interior Department. The Interior Department would then have the option of approving or denying a governor’s request if leasing would cause an unreasonable risk to people or the marine and coastal environments. Leases would not be allowed within 25 miles of the coast.
Twenty-five percent of revenue from the leases would go into a new “Energy Independence and Security Fund” to be used to finance alternative energy, conservation, and public transportation programs. 37.5 percent would go to nearby states, 25 percent would go to the U.S. Treasury, and 12.5 percent would go to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The second section of Green’s bill is designed to curb speculation in energy markets. It would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use its emergency powers to curb excessive speculation that may lead to artificially inflated energy prices.
“Our goal here is to make sure the consumer price of energy accurately reflects supply and demand,” Green said.
The bill’s final section would change the way the federal government manages the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a provision originally proposed in H.R. 6578 introduced by Congressman Nick Lampson (D-TX). It would require the Energy Department to sell 70 million barrels of light crude oil and replace it with the same amount of heavy crude.
“This will make government policy compatible with our modern refining capacity, and the release of oil on the market could help reduce prices and combat the effect of market speculation,” Green said.