U.S. House moves on measure to ensure energy dominance

Former Interior Department official reminded House leaders earlier this week the gold-rush era ended a long time ago.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   July 20, 2017 at 8:02 AM
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July 20 (UPI) -- The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives said two bills passed through their chambers that would ensure the country remains "an energy powerhouse."

House bills passed that would avoid a presidential permit process for cross-border pipelines. U.S. President Donald Trump during his first weeks in office stepped in to get the Keystone XL oil pipeline approved after years of lengthy review of its fit with national security interests and the environment.

Four additional bills advanced out of committee to promote energy security.

"The United States is an energy powerhouse around the world [and] we want to keep it that way," Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., said in a statement. "We want our country to compete freely in the global markets and continue to positively benefit our economy."

The efforts in the House follow a visit in Washington between U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency. Birol said that, with U.S. oil production on par with some of the largest producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and an emerging potential as an exporter of liquefied gas, the country stands "at the heart of a twin energy revolution."

In the last seven years, nearly $1 trillion in capital has gone toward exploration and production in the United States, even with the revenue stream drying up during last year's market decline. Another $200 billion went toward the midstream, or pipeline, sector in the United States since 2010.

U.S. President Donald Trump has put oil and natural gas at the forefront of his national energy strategy, but he has his critics. Rhea Suh, the head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the House efforts provide a back door to expanding oil and gas drilling, including in protected parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

"Trump and his polluter allies are playing budget games to hide their dirty fuels giveaway," he said in a statement emailed to UPI.

House leaders this week held a session on federal laws on natural resources that committee members said have "gone astray." Amanda Leiter, a former U.S. Interior Department official now at the American University Washington College of Law, testified that she disagreed with the House premise.

"We can no longer simply adopt a first-come-first-served approach, as we arguably could in the days of the gold rush," she said in her prepared remarks.

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