Domestic oil drilling would increase exponentially under a proposal that the House GOP is developing as part of its legislative package for long-term transportation policy. John Boehner outlined the basics of the package today.
Boehner said the bill, dubbed the “American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act,’’ will be filed soon and that he anticipates the lower chamber will act on it before the end of the year. He pitched it as a jobs bill that will “expand American energy production and use those revenues to repair and improve America’s roads and bridges.’’ Asked for details, Boehner said, “As we finalize this bill and get ready to introduce it, more of those details will be available. But they’re not all available today.’’
Left unsettled is the amount of revenue the massive oil drilling outlined by Boehner would produce, when those funds would become available and how the money will be disbursed. A one-page summary issued by the Speaker’s office announced that the legislation seeks to reverse President Obama’s drilling ban on new offshore areas. It also will establish rules for the development of oil shale resources and open up about three percent of the 19 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the North Slope region of Alaska, better known as ANWR, for oil and natural gas development.
Oil interests have been looking longingly at ANWR since at least 1977 but have thus far been unable to open the region for drilling. Obama, and a host of environmental groups, oppose development, citing the potential impact on wildlife.
Whatever funds are realized from HR 7 will go “to infrastructure repair and improvement,’’ concentrating on roads and bridges, not transit.
The Speaker was short on details today but long on rhetoric. “We don’t need more short term stimulus gimmicks,’’ he said. “We don’t need more red tape and we truly don’t need higher taxes. What we need to do is get Washington out of the way and free job creators from the shackles of a government that is always meddling and micromanaging our economy.’’
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-WV, the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he finds it difficult to take the GOP plan seriously since it contains few details.
“Nothing in today’s announcement identifies real, sustainable revenues needed to address our long-term surface transportation infrastructure investment needs,’’ Rahall said. “Having both served on and chaired the Natural Resource Committee for many years, I have witnessed countless efforts to expand domestic energy production. I have been through the “Drill, Baby, Drill” cycles. Unfortunately, many of the proposals offered today have been around for decades, and – more importantly – will generate nowhere near the amount of revenue in the near term promised by the Republicans.’’