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Bipartisan Legislation Opening Up Federal Lands And Offshore Areas To Energy Development Moves Through Congress

by Countable | 11.9.17

What’s the story?

The SECURE (Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand) American Energy Act was greenlighted by the House Committee on Natural Resources Wednesday. The goal of the Act is to streamline regulatory frameworks in order to open up federal lands as well as federal territory in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to oil, gas and wind development.

The bill was introduced by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and has 11 co-sponsors, including two Democrats.

Why does it matter?

The federal government owns approximately 640 million acres of land, about 28 percent of the United States, according to the Congressional Research Service. The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) comprises four "lease regions" — Gulf of Mexico OCS, Atlantic OCS, Pacific OCS and Alaska OCS, and includes thousands of nautical miles. All of this land would be made available for energy development.

The SECURE American Energy Act, according to a summary provided by the House Natural Resources Committee, would open up the entirety of the OCS to energy development. Currently 94 percent of the OCS is restricted for those uses. The Committee projects development of these resources would create 840,000 jobs and generate $200 billion in revenues.

6.25 percent of those revenues would be dedicated to the, "Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Transportation for projects within the National Park System and energy infrastructure projects in coastal ports."

Environmentalists have serious concerns, however, because the Act would also amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which protects the ecosystems of marine wildlife in order to maintain an optimum sustainable population for the good of the coastal economy and the environment.

The Act would also prohibit the enforcement of the Obama administration’s Arctic Rule by the Department of the Interior. Using an "obscure provision" of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, President Barack Obama declared a permanent ban on offshore drilling in much of the Atlantic, from Virginia to Maine, and along much of Alaska’s coast in the last days of his presidency.

The onshore focus of the bill, according to the Committee, is to simplify the regulatory process in order to "make federal lands a competitive and attractive place to develop energy resources." The Act would allow states with established regulatory programs to manage and gain larger benefit from oil and gas development within their borders.

In exchange for revenue being dedicated to supporting infrastructure projects and funding public services, including community colleges and healthcare, the Bureau of Land Management would be prevented from "intruding" on energy development on state and private lands via “unnecessary permits and additional federal environmental reviews.”

The federal government would also be prohibited from enforcing federal regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal lands in states with "corresponding rules" in place.

Countable will continue to keep you abreast of changes to the bill as it makes its way to the House floor and, potentially, the Senate and its committees.

What do you think?

Do you support opening up federal lands on and offshore to increased energy development? Do you think this will spur needed economic growth and enhance our energy independence? Do you fear it will wreak havoc on the environment for short term monetary gain? Is oil and gas development a dead end for the good of future generations, or is there some middle ground where public land can be used responsibly for the public good?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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(66)
  • Shane
    11/10/2017
    ···

    I do not support fast tracking federal land for energy exploration of non renewable fuels. This is the legislation of greedy morons. I will not stand for drilling off shore in the Gulf of Mexico and will strongly protest any such efforts. Let's be smart and harness natures abundant energy sources and implement energy conservation techniques. Our grandchildren need this infrastructure to survive. Lead with intelligence and compassion. We will not stand for the degradation of our society and ecological systems. Not for one second.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    11/10/2017
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    It appears, as many others have pointed out, that this bill has nothing to do with Energy independence and has everything to do with Capitalistic greed for money and power. It repeals most of the environmental protections the Citizens desire to protect our waters and land, air and wildlife, as well as human kind. If this were to be approved, which is likely, it should require that and fossil fuels obtained via this bill, shall be only used to produce solar, wind and other renewable energy products, such as wave electrical generation technology and other bio-energy technologies. There shall be no profits made on these fossil fuels. The goal should be to use American Citizens last natural resources to produce a sustainable green future for our children and all generations to follow. We should utilize these last natural resources to create a legacy and be the leaders of the world of tomorrow and be a model to all societies. The profits can be made in the renewable energies sector.

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  • Michael.J.L
    11/10/2017
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    I say NO. This has absolutely nothing to do with energy independence, but with filling the coffers of Big Oil and GOP donations. We already have more oil than we can use. How about developing the untapped resource of renewable energy. Other nations, China for one, is far surpassing us in this area. Fossil fuels are so 19th Century. We need to begin the transition NOW.

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  • Kailee
    11/10/2017
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    The House Natural Resources Committee is marking up legislation that would overhaul federal offshore energy policy. When it moves to the floor, I urge you to vote no on H.R. 4239, the “SECURE American Energy Act”, which fully incorporates the text of H.R. 3133, the “Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act” of 2017. Both are dangerous bills that would strip the landmark Marine Mammal Protection Act of core provisions protecting whales, dolphins, seals, manatees, and other marine mammals from harm. The Marine Mammal Protect Act was enacted 45 years ago and since then, it has protected all marine mammals in U.S. waters. And it’s working -- many marine mammals are recovering and no marine mammal has gone extinct in U.S. waters. Yet these bills would effectively gut the act, repealing marine mammal protections in order to promote harmful oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic and Arctic. On the 45th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, our work to protect marine mammals is far from finished. Many iconic marine mammals are still threatened with extinction. We must have a robust Marine Mammal Protection Act to recover these important species and to prevent the endangerment of others. Defending marine mammals and the legislation that protects them is important to your constituents: 76 percent of Americans support protecting marine mammals from threats, including injury and death resulting from offshore oil and gas drilling, and 73 percent of Americans support the Marine Mammal Protection Act. For these reasons, I urge you to oppose H.R. 4239, H.R. 3133, and any other legislation that would undermine the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s protections for marine mammals. Thank you.

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  • Sharon
    11/10/2017
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    Absolutely no. Do not support this bill, please. Lands that have been placed under government custody have been set aside for protection to preserve them for reasons of biodiversity, the enjoyment of the American people, and preservation of history. This is just more shameless pandering to special interests, rich cronies, and wealthy donors, in my opinion. Stop it!

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  • Dara
    11/10/2017
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    This is just ignorant policy. When will this administration wake up from the stupor they are engaged in? We are destroying this planet so greedy businessmen, selfish corporate interests, and corrupt politicians can line their pockets with money. I wonder where their grandchildren will live after they have destroyed Earth.

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  • Wesley
    11/10/2017
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    No, this is nothing to do with energy independence. Diversifying the grid with renewable energy resources would ensure energy independence.

    Like (7)
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  • Ticktock
    11/10/2017
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    We should be moving away from petrochemicals rather than expanding their use and drilling in sensitive environmental locations. These efforts should be blocked legally and the individuals involved sued personally.

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  • Adam
    11/10/2017
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    Federal lands should be left intact and should be protected. Renewable energy is the future of America. Opening up Federal Lands for drilling and mining sacrifices biodiversity and the environment for the benefit of the energy corporations, not the people. If our governmental Representatives can't listen to their constituents then we will be forced to replace them.

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  • Mark
    11/10/2017
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    Looks an awful lot like the 6.25% would pay for the infrastructure development to pay for-profit companies to drill in sensitive eco systems so a few billionaires and oil companies can get richer. 840,000 jobs? Fat chance. That’s the same argument used to fund sports arenas with tax dollars and it’s just hog wash. Do the research and you’ll see it’s true. If this effort was put into green power the jobs would come and the world would be a better place for everyone.

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  • Donna
    11/10/2017
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    Federal lands are owned by the citizens of this country, not the government as a single entity. They certainly do not belong to the huge, greedy and environment-destroying energy companies and their overpaid CEOs. Have we learned nothing from the BP spill in the gulf? Allowing energy companies access to the remaining protected areas of this country for greed and profit is indefensible. I do not believe for one minute that any of the money traded for these rights will ever be used to preserve and protect our lands, waters, parks, monuments, etc. This is the same administration destroying the EPA, rolling back MPG requirements for automakers to increase the dependence on oil, repealing the Clean Power Plan to entice more coal mining and proving on a daily basis their donors and their own greed are to be put before their constituents and all future generations. This trend needs to stop before it is too late to undo the damage. Vote NO!

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  • Sally
    11/10/2017
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    This is a bad idea, we need to wean off of fossil fuels and quit cowtowing to big oil. We need to focus on renewables

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  • Brian
    11/10/2017
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    The use and abuse of federal lands needs to be stopped the Republican party’s new motto rape and pillage

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  • Gloria
    11/11/2017
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    Please do not support fast tracking the exploitation of federal lands for energy development. It's nothing but corporate greed. We must be smarter about how we take resources from the land. We will have no air we can breathe or food to eat, or temperatures we can survive if we allow money and greed to dictate our decisions. We must continue to heavily scrutinize the rape of the land.

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  • Sandra
    11/11/2017
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    Absolutely NOT. The Gulf of Mexico may never recover from the last debacle of gushing oil rig... and the deaths the explosion caused. Fossil fuels are dying a natural death. Renewable energy is taking over. Solar, wind... stop subsidizing these dirty energy sources. NOW. Stop fossil fuels.

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  • ManfromNebraska
    11/10/2017
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    It’s time to use our resources for our countries needs and stop relying on foreign countries as much. If we stop buying so much oil from the Middle East countries we can stop making Muslim countries rich. Instead it will help our economy and bring good paying jobs to our citizens.

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  • Andrea
    11/10/2017
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    Please oppose this bill if and when it comes up for a vote. It's wrong for our environment and wrong for our energy future.

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  • Shawn
    11/10/2017
    ···

    Please do not let fossil fuels ruin anymore of our ocean environment. Not only do we need to ween off fossil fuels in the near future but these have proven to be disastrous in the present with leak after leak. Wind power seems viable but I feel that that is just a trap for Dems to allow fossil fuel industries to have their way with federally controlled areas instead under the impression that some of it will be used for wind.

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  • RadicalModerate
    11/10/2017
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    Please vote no. If you care about national security, the economy, jobs, the environment, our children’s future. By supporting this and not supporting cannabis legalization you are guilty of treason.

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  • Betsie
    11/10/2017
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    Greed. Greed. Greed. We’ve almost destroyed our environment already, starting in the Industrial Age. The National Park Service was started to preserve our beautiful lands, in all their diversity. You know, “mountains’ majesty” and all that. Reversing the work of 101 years since the NPS was founded is untenable. Yellowstone was opened in 1872! Are we going to effectively put American Nature on death row by all federal lands and parks to be pillaged for that ever-harmful 1% who get the real profits of resource mining and drilling! NO! Please fight against this. If you don’t, I will let everyone know how little you care about our natural heritage. It IS the age of social media, and your actions have consequences on your career.

    Like (2)
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