Big Government Holding Up American Energy Production

By Congressmen Scott Tipton, Mike Coffman & Doug Lamborn As high gasoline prices continue to hammer families at the pump each week, Americans are demanding solutions to our nation’s high energy costs. Colorado’s abundance of natural resources on federal lands puts our state at the heart of this critical national debate. Recently, the three of us introduced a trio of bills in the House aimed at furthering an all-of-the-above energy approach that we believe the Obama Administration is only paying lip service to.  Our bills seek to advance responsible development of renewables like hydropower and wind energy, along with traditional resources like oil and natural gas. While President Obama talks about cracking down on oil speculators, without providing any evidence that speculators are in fact driving up prices, we are pursuing what we believe are more effective, common sense policy solutions to lower gas prices for American families and businesses. Collectively, our bills would put an energy plan into place, cut through bureaucratic red tape, and streamline government hurdles and regulations that block and delay the development of both traditional and alternative energy resources.  Following are the specifics. H.R. 4381, Planning for American Energy Act (Rep. Tipton), would ensure that America has a true all-of-the-above energy plan. It would require the Secretary of the Interior to develop a strategic plan every four years on how to responsibly develop our federal onshore energy resources in order to meet the United States’ energy demands. That plan would have to include oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, oil shale, and minerals necessary for energy development. We must do more than just talk about the need for an all-of-the-above energy strategy. The federal government must put forward a comprehensive plan that will meet our nation’s energy needs through the development of traditional and alternative energy resources.  This bill does that. H.R. 4382, The Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act (Rep. Coffman), would require the Interior Secretary to conduct new lease sales in areas identified with the greatest energy potential. In 2011, the Interior Department, in several states, only conducted lease sales on a small fraction of new land that was identified as having the greatest energy potential: 3 percent in Colorado, 8 percent in California, 7 percent in Utah and zero in Alaska and Arizona. The bill would also provide certainty to American energy producers by prohibiting the Interior Secretary from taking away leases already sold, setting firm timelines for the Secretary to issue leases, and prohibiting the Secretary from changing the rules once the leases and contracts have been finalized. Although the President is taking credit for increased production, the truth is that his Administration has spent nearly four years blocking and delaying domestic energy production. In Colorado, new issued leases for oil and gas production have dropped -- from 363 in 2006 to only 11 in 2011.  This is costing us jobs and making it more expensive for Americans to pay for their day-to-day energy needs. H.R. 4383, The Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act (Rep. Lamborn), would set firm timelines for the Secretary of the Interior to approve permits to ensure they don’t sit in bureaucratic limbo for years. H.R. 4383 would speed up the process by directing a portion of the permitting processing fees to help the federal agencies bring in necessary personnel, expertise, and resources to get the job done. Besides cutting bureaucratic red tape, this bill also addresses delays caused by frivolous lawsuits by setting a 90 day time limit to file legal challenges to an energy project. We embrace a comprehensive approach to energy development -- an approach that the President has talked about but not acted upon. His belated support of the Southern Keystone Pipeline, while stopping it where it really counts – the border with Canada – is a perfect example. The American people deserve more than lip service -- they deserve results.  Our legislation will produce results, and meet America’s all-of-the-above energy needs. Congressman Lamborn represents the Fifth Congressional District. Congressman Tipton represents the Third Congressional District. Congressman Coffman represents the Sixth Congressional District. All three sit on the House Natural Resources Committee.